That title is a little shocking, I know….but let me explain first.
While serving in Honduras with the Missioners of Christ, I was blessed with so many opportunities to learn from God’s “chosen ones”. Looking back, it’s harder to remember the times that I actually “taught” someone something of value….for in reality, I was learning and receiving much more than I ever expected!
As Father Agustino Torres C.F.R. once said, “Wanna break free of addictions? SERVE THE POOR. Wanna live a pure life? SERVE THE POOR.”
It was ONLY in placing myself in a situation to serve, that I began to see the world and the people around me in a pure way….by placing myself in that situation – a situation VERY uncomfortable and out-of-the-norm, that I learned about who I was, and therefore about who God IS. In order to see God, we must be humbled….that is why so many things that make me comfortable in my daily life are distractions to seeing Him….and why we all have the constant daily struggle to learn to slowly live in the world, yet not be – OF the world.
There are so many memories of holy people that I met in the mountains of Honduras….in towns where running water, electricity and even reliable transportation were seen as a blessing WHEN they were available. Towns where entire communities survived with each other, sharing the crops of one neighbor with the milk from the cows of another neighbor. Where “Jose”, the richest man in the community lent his horse to carry the sick youngest child of his very poor next-door neighbors.
Yet one of the most memorable things from those mountain villages was the simplicity they found in what we (here in the s0-called “developed” world) would call poverty. After my time in Honduras, I found that the more rural and remote villages, sometimes 5-6 hours from any other villages and only accessible by WALKING, (where priests could only visit once a year OR 2) were more in touch with God than any of us who had mass on a daily basis.
One of the missionaries in Honduras told us a story about an elderly woman she met up in a mountain village of Honduras. She was sick and almost dying, and hadn’t been to a city or town other than her own in more than 20+ years…..this was back around 2002, so you can imagine all of the world-events that she didn’t even know about.
After visiting the elderly woman with a priest, praying and sharing with her, she told the missionaries about a vision that God gave her of Hell. She explained that in this deep, dark and cold place she envisioned millions of young people with white-wires coming from their ears, and all dancing emotion-less like robots. She said it was the darkest and loneliest place she had ever seen.
Sound/Look like something familiar???
NOW, before you say anything, let me tell you! I DO NOT think that anyone who uses headphones and listens to music is going to Hell! So please, get over that.
But stop for a second and think.
Everyday that I walk in the street I see about 75% + young people staring blankly with these “white wires” coming out of their ears…..it’s no wonder people don’t say hello to each other here, they can’t hear you!!!
Thousands of our generation, depressed by the world and trying to drown-it-out with whatever we can find – tv, sex, drugs, social media and then when we have to actually get up off of the couch and go somewhere – with our traveling companion to numb it all – music. (and I understand! Without God, this world is depressing!)
And even worse is what I’ve been seeing recently (and this isn’t just in NYC) – a mother or father walking with their child in the street, one hand grasping the little child’s and the other holding the ipod or cellphone with headphones attached. I’ve noticed it MORE and MORE, so it’s not something that I’m over-exaggerating, (in fact, I’m tempted to start taking pics and posting them on Facebook to prove the point) it’s a reality. Look around.
Don’t get me wrong, we are ALL victims of this epidemic. Consuming consuming consuming, and eventually at some late hour of the night, falling asleep and never really having to think/deal with the problems we have. It’s the temptation of each of us in this modern world….and it can even enter into how we live our FAITH.
Just as those ipods play the secular music in the street , we can drown-out REAL PRAYER in Church with emotional music and praying – without any real solid and SILENT time to listen to God, as He enters the darkest most secret areas of who we are.
I think that the vision of this elderly woman (who could not have possibly known about iPods from all-the-way in her village) is prophetic and real. But, I don’t think that it means that anyone using an iPod in the street is in danger of going to hell.
What I think the vision is warning us of is the danger of “numbing” ourselves to reality. Instead of dealing with our “demons” or struggles, we just wash them away (temporarily) with our favorite TV show, our favorite music or movies, a cigarette, drug or drink-of-choice….til eventually, we’ve become so numb to who we TRULY are….that our problems seem to disappear.
The problem with this is that by the time someone who’s already spent years “numbing” themselves to their own issues/wounds/addictions, the moment they snap back in to reality it can be pretty traumatic.
Just as St Catherine said “Be who you were meant to be, and you will set the world on fire.”
Only in detaching from these “things” that surround us, spend time with our Lord in silence….allowing ourselves to listen, to feel (both happiness AND pain) and BE, will God be able to begin healing us and transforming us to the people that He created us to be.