Since the fall of Adam and Eve, man has been living in a dreamlike state, believing what he wills. Whether it be the god Baal or whether it be Zeus, whether it be the individuality of atheism or the harmony of Buddhism, we humans have created and convinced ourselves of whatever belief system we desire to be true. But at its core, all we’re doing is shopping for lies.
As a species, we humans are dissatisfied with the truth. We dream impossible dreams and believe the things we want to be true. We can see celebrities struggle with relationships and marriage, yet believe we would be happy as a celebrity. We can see wealthy individuals commit suicide, and yet believe we would be happy if we were wealthy. And we can see individuals who dive into sexual immorality destroy every drop of their human dignity and yet believe sex will make us happy. We aren’t interested in looking for the truth to make us happy, we are shopping for a lie to feel happy.
It is the American dream, is it not? To pursue life, liberty, and happiness. And yet can’t we see the contradiction? In the pursuit of liberty for women we deny the life of the unborn. In the pursuit of happiness we enslave ourselves to the sins of lust and greed. Why do we continue to pretend that the lies we pursue make us better off, when it is obvious they are nothing but emptiness?
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to spend Christmas in New Orleans. I was blessed with a guest room granted by Fr. Tony at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel next to the old French Quarter. The church there founded a soup kitchen across the street, and I was given the opportunity to volunteer there. I had the opportunity to sit and talk with some of the homeless, and I remember well the young woman who sat across from me. It is not by any feature of her that she is one of the few I remember from that soup kitchen, but rather it is because of her words. For her, it was very important that I be told that she was in fact rich and had no need to eat at a soup kitchen but did so in disguise as a homeless person. For her, the thought that I might be deceived into believing she was truly rich seemed to bring her great satisfaction, of which I had no intent of disturbing by revealing that I didn’t believe her. This seems to be the power of such dreams and lies, they allow us to believe that we are what we aren’t, and that we will become what we can never be, and from these fantasies and lies we draw our happiness.
I remember when it was revealed to me that Santa isn’t real, and that it was really my parents who provided the presents. And I felt betrayed—because I knew that my parents had lied to me. And yet the argument is always the same, “we didn’t want you to know because it would take away your happiness.” We are happy in our lies, fantasies, and deception, and we are distressed by those who undermine them with truth. Thus we put them to death, like John the Baptist, Jesus, the profits of old, and the countless martyrs since the death of Christ. We do all in our power to keep out truth and reason, falsifying our world views through hallucinogens like LSD, dumbing down our intellect through drunkenness, and promoting animalistic acts by claiming God made us have the desire for many horrendous acts of the flesh—as if any baby were truly born into the world with these desires. But if they can claim they were born that way, they can claim it is justified, and they can hold onto their lie.
Out of discontent for the truth of God we open our doors to the salesmen of lies. We listen to him, and buy-in on the lies we find desirable. We wear them as our jewelry, showing them off to all those we encounter. While gospel music proclaiming the truth of God is kept quiet, music screaming blasphemies is blasted through open car windows. While religious dialogue in politics is subdued and muffled, satanic dialogue over the sanctity of abortion and beauty of sinful relationships is proliferated.
I remember while once attending the March for Life in Washington D.C. an older woman, in a seemingly random way, informed our group of young men that she had no problem with the use of contraception. As she put it, “I don’t think God will send me to hell for that little sin.” It is ironic, that by advertising her use of contraception she propagated the idea that sex is for pleasure, not necessarily procreation. And yet that is the core argument of abortion. Sex is for pleasure, and abortion is to remove the undesired byproduct of procreation. But why did she feel so much need to inform us of this lie to which she upheld, without us ever having had asked for it? Because it was her jewel, the lie she had bought from the salesmen of lies.
In the world of Satan’s lies, we can propose nearly anything we want to be true. We can call ourselves perfect, and without blemish. We can believe ourselves to be a future king or queen. We can imagine ourselves becoming gods of new worlds in our death, and believe that if people of this current world would know they would bow down and worship us here. But there is one thing of which we can’t propose in the world of fiction, fantasy, and lies: we can’t propose the truth. For the truth, by its very definition, is opposed to all our fantasies and self-centered ideas of perfection.
In desiring our lies, we keep ourselves in the dark. Just as an imagination runs wild at night, so also do the superstitions and false beliefs of a soul run wild in the darkness of evil. In the light of Christ’s truth every false belief and superstition flees, but in its stead guilt for our wrongfulness ensues. In the darkness we wipe away guilt through the lie of self-righteousness, but in the light of truth we wipe away our guilt through accepting Christ’s sacrifice.
We hold on to our lies out of desire of comfort, but let us reject this temporal comfort in order that the comforts of heaven and our eternal consoler be ours. Eternal truth, may you dwell in our hearts for all eternity, Amen.