By Canon Gerry Conroy

It seems to me that we as Catholics trying to live in our society can in many different ways be almost forced into living a kind of dualism or think that we need to live a kind of dualism if we are to have any kind of life. It is almost as if part of our life has to be separated from our faith; acknowledging having any kind of faith can put added pressure on us. And that causes us some distress because we hear the words of Christ, ‘cut off from me you can do nothing.’  Or ‘As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself, but must remain part of the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me’. Christ is clear in what he says and it seems, at least according to the dictates of modern society, that we have a choice to make either we believe or we abandon our faith to fit in.

Perhaps the most obvious dualism that we are confronted with is, the often repeated claim that you either believe in God or in science. There is certain scorn poured on those who are naive enough to have faith as if it meant suspending any rational thought. But the truth is that those who claim the only reality is material or social, economic or the political problems we face are the ones who are closing their eyes to reality. This pandemic has surely reminded us that there is more to life and us than these material realities. What faith helps us realise is that without God we cannot understand or respond adequately or realistically, we cannot respond humanly to ourselves.

And it is not only in these ways that we are coerced into a dualism in living out life. The view of relationships our society promotes from the earliest ages with its advertising and expectations is at odds with the Christian vision of what relationships are about, there is even disagreement over the nature of love. In our society relationships have almost been reduced to just another way to find pleasure, they have lost the greater vocation of the way to bring us to the fullness of our humanity. Once God has been removed from relationships it was never going to be any other way. Without God there is no unity in anything.

There are so many ways that our society expects us to put faith to one side if we are to live and work in it. Leave your conscience at home and do what is expected of you. But faith cannot survive such dualism, our humanity cannot survive such dishonesty. Faith will become simply a servant of a society that seeks to control every aspect of our life by offering an opiate to those whose conscience is still searching for something and so needs to be silenced.

What should our faith be for us? It is the guardian not just of our conscience but of our humanity, of our soul. It should make you passionate about truth and about reality. It should make you question and keep seeking for the infinite in you and in our world, in whatever you are doing. In our work and in our play, in our relationships, if we have forgotten the infinite, if we have forgotten God, then we have been seduced by the lie our era is propagating; that we have no need of God, that faith is a hindrance to our freedom and humanity, that there is no possibility of a lasting unity.

Faith tell us it is by listening to the word that Christ has spoken to us that we find the infinite in all we do.

Canon Gerry Conroy is parish priest of St Patrick’s, Dumbarton

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