Beware the 'idolatry of immanence,' Pope Francis says

Pope Francis at the general audience in St. Peter's Square on Nov. 4, 2015. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA.
Pope Francis at the general audience in St. Peter's Square on Nov. 4, 2015. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

.- Pope Francis cautioned against making idols out of earthly things, including our own habits, and stressed that while these will eventually fade away, their Creator is the only thing that will remain.

“This idolatry of being attached to the beauty of the here and now, without (a sense of) the transcendence, we all run the risk of having that. It’s the idolatry of immanence,” the Pope said Nov. 13 during his daily Mass homily.

“We believe that these things are almost gods and they will last forever. We forget about that fading away.”

Pope Francis spoke to those present in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse for his daily Mass. He launched his reflections with a focus on the day’s first reading from Wisdom, which recounts how man failed to recognize God in the beauty of the world.

Despite intense studies on beautiful things such as wind, air and the stars, man still did not succeed in knowing who created them and brought them to life.

Francis said the “error” of many people is that they are incapable of looking beyond earthly things, no matter how beautiful, to the transcendent, and called the attitude an “idolatry of immanence.”

Many people “are attached to this idolatry: they are astonished by the power and energy (of these things),” yet haven’t stopped to consider “how much greater is their sovereign because He created them, He who is the origin and the author of this beauty.”

“It’s an idolatry to gaze at all these beautiful things without believing that they will fade away,” he said, explaining that this fading also has an element of beauty.  

Another danger the Pope warned against is the trap of falling into our daily habits, which can make our hearts deaf.

He turned to the day’s Gospel from Luke, in which Jesus recounts the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, relating it to his final coming.

Francis said Jesus alludes to the trap of falling into one’s habits when he speaks to his disciples of the men and women during Noah’s time who ate, drank and lived recklessly without thinking or caring about the consequences. That is, until the Lord sent the flood and rained down burning Sulphur.
 
“Everything is according to habit. Life is like that: We live in this way, without thinking about the end of this way of living,” the Pope explained. “This too is an idolatry: to be attached to our habits, without thinking that this will come to an end.”

In fact, our habits themselves can be thought of as an idolatry, he said, because when we go through life with the attitude that our habits are just the way life is and make no effort to change, it’s idolatrous.

Just as earthly beauty will in another beauty, that of eternity, also “our habits will finish in an eternity,” Francis said, adding that the Church makes us look at the final end of our actions.

Pope Francis then encouraged attendees to always direct their gaze toward God, who is beyond the visible end of created things, so as not to repeat the deadly mistake of looking back, as did Lot’s wife.

“We believers are not people who look back, who yield, but people who always go forward,” he said.

Francis concluded by saying that we must always go forward in life with our habits and while looking at the beautiful things around us, “but without deifying them.”

“They will end. Be they these small beauties, which reflect a bigger beauty, our own habits for surviving in the eternal song, contemplating the glory of God.”

Tags: Pope Francis

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