True Friends and Enemies

If the master of the house had known the hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. (Luke 12:39)

pachamama-arianna-ruffinengo
“Pachamama” by Arianna Ruffinengo

Everyone paid attention to the videos from Rome? Maybe someday our personal responses to this question will define us: Where did you stand, when they threw Pachamama in the Tiber?

But I would rather recount a conversation I had with a Mohawk man. On the Appalachian Trail, a few years ago. He’s a Christian, an Assembly of God preacher. We fell in with each other for a long stretch of walking and talking. He wound up spending a few days praying at St. Andrew’s in Roanoke, Virginia, then continued his journeys.

To generalize about “native American spirituality” or “Amazonian spirituality”—doesn’t seem like a good idea at all. You really can’t generalize, any more than you could generalize about “European spirituality” or “the spirituality of the Indian sub-continent.”

But can’t we say this: All orthodox Catholics, and most native Americans, of north and south, have something in common. We all acknowledge that the human race does not possess the greatest intelligence that exists. We God-fearing people revere the infinitely superior intelligence of our Creator, and the immeasurably superior intelligence of the angels, the non-material spirits–some of which are good, some of which are evil.

Cover of English edition of Pope Francis' encyclical on environment

Therefore we orthodox Catholics and native Americans also share this understanding: the Creator has endowed His material creation with an inherent order—and that order also surpasses our intelligence.

Not that we Catholics would say that trees, deer, and rivers have “minds.” But we recognize, along with native Americans, that Mother Nature possesses this endowment of organization, unity, and co-operation. Mankind forms but a part of this.

We human beings have a unique role—but not the role of mastermind. We must humbly respect the mystery of Mother Nature’s inner-connectedness; we must seek to co-operate with it ourselves; we cannot presume to understand it completely.

So, my point is: Why would we fight among ourselves, we God-fearing people who respect the Creator’s higher intelligence? When we not only have such crucial presuppositions in common, but also clearly face a common foe.

Namely, the school of willful blindness to the inherently religious dimension of human life. The technocracy. The oligarchy of materialists. That rejects prayer and sacraments as merely projections of inner psychological confusion. That prizes only bodily comfort. That cannot conceive of our human mission to co-operate humbly with God and His laws.

I didn’t just make up this take on the problem, during a walk in the woods with an Indian. This is a thesis that Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict both embraced, as we can see in the citations in Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’.

A non-Christian native American who reveres the inner mystery of Mother Nature has more in common with us orthodox Catholics than the people who run the world right now. Who know no gods other than man and money.

4 thoughts on “True Friends and Enemies

  1. Accurate if somewhat sad. A few adds for plain meditation apps certainly shows the lack of understanding of true meditation with Our Lord.

  2. Yea father mark really accurate….. the way native Americans see things… how they view the Creator is something i think we can all learn from…..it is a travesty how many put so much above our Lord… and is certainly something i think needs to be looked at, but of course those that do such … well it seems they cant even see they are doing it…. its sad so many think we can only learn from those that look and act the same as we do…..
    God bless
    Prayers up tobacco down….

  3. I was not familiar with Pachamama so had to look up the information… she is a “fertility goddess revered by indigenous people of the Andes.” She can also cause earthquakes. I do not see how a “goddess” fits into orthodox Catholicism. I realize saints (people who actually lived at one time) often are connected to certain areas of life. (St. Brigid of Ireland was patron of milkmen, poets, yard animals, healers, etc.) And we have statues of saints in our homes and our churches. But wouldn’t a statue of a “goddess” be considered an idol?
    Judy R.

  4. HUZZAH to the brave men who removed the false gods from Sacred Ground! Would that more lay – Men would rise up for Our Lord and Our Lady in voice and deed!

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