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When God disappears, man is slave to idolatry

· The prophet Elijah and prayer in the catechesis of Benedict XVI at the General Audience ·

When God “disappears” from man’s horizon, “man falls into the slavery of idolatry, as the totalitarian regimes of our times have shown and as the diverse forms of nihilism show, which make man dependent on idols, on idolatry and enslave him.” They are dangers which remind us of the story of the prophet Elijah, which was discussed today by the Pope in his catechesis at the general audience this morning, June 15, in St. Peter’s Square, dedicated to the prophet and his challenge to the people of Israel to choose between God and the idol Baal.

“Idolatry,” said Benedict XVI, “is the continual temptation of the believer who, under the illusion that he can serve two masters, tries to serve the Omnipotent One placing his trust also in an powerless god created by men.” Elijah, the Pope explained, experienced a moment of crisis during a situation of open syncretism in Israel. He found himself faced with a people ready to give in to the flattery of those who proposed a malleable god, fashioned by men according to their own use. To unmask “the deceitful foolishness” of those who proposed false idols, the prophet gathered the people of Israel before an altar which he had erected and invoked God, “involving him in the history of men.”

And God showed himself. Once again, he did so through fire, an element, “both necessary and terrible,” said Benedict XVI, “linked to the divine manifestations of the burning bush and of Sinai.” This fire of God which transforms our hearts, explained the Pope, is, “the true fire of God, the love that guides the Lord all the way to the cross, to the total gift of himself.”

The primary purpose of prayer, then, said the Pontiff, is conversion, just as true adoration of God is “giving oneself to God and to men. True adoration is love. True adoration of God does not destroy, but renews and transforms.”

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St. Peter’s Square

Sept. 18, 2019

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