Those of us who live in the West live in cultures that pride themselves on autonomy, individualism, and a will-to-power. According the philosophies that undergird our culture, we as individuals are the harbingers of truth and freedom. We don’t need people. We only allow them into our spheres of influence if they serve some kind of purpose or utility.
That is, if they make us happy or feel good about ourselves in some way. These relationships are easy because we can discard the person once they no longer make us happy or feel good. This is part of the reason that all relationships are in shambles in our culture. It is not only romantic love that suffers, it is familial bonds and friendships that suffer as well.
This belief, predicated upon rugged individualism, has also infected the Mystical Body in the West. Not the Church, not even God, can stand in the way of what I want or how I want to do things. This type of thinking is the antithesis of the Catholic understanding of what the Mystical Body truly is at the deepest levels of reality.
Christ has made it clear to us that we cannot get to heaven alone. Doing things “my” way is not the path to holiness. It is the path to destruction. We are united to one another and meant to walk together. This is a struggle for all of us who have been shaped by this ideology of individualism.
Entering into deeper communion and holy relationships with others is inherently difficult in our Fallen state. It is even harder when we’ve mistakenly been taught to believe that we can go it alone and that we do not need others to walk the path to holiness with us. We may not even be consciously aware that we have absorbed this belief from our culture and allowed it to shape the way we understand the life of faith. If we keep our brothers and sisters in Christ at arms length or we believe that all we need to do is attend Mass on Sunday, then we may have accepted the erroneous tenets of individualism.
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