Lately I have been bringing up in my homilies, our need for a solid spiritual life. I know that most people are afraid of this, as they know almost nothing about it, and have very little, if any, experience with it. So I quote St. John Paul II, “Be not afraid—Open your hearts to Christ!”; he said this from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica just minutes after his election as Pope. He was trying to motivate us to dive deeper into the spiritual life. Why would he do that? Well, he is the Pope, isn’t that what Popes are supposed to do? Then by posing that question, we totally take for granted all the spiritual instruction our wonderful and holy Popes give us and there form our excuse not to listen to them or to even check out their encyclicals. In this malaise and negative attitude, we miss sight of what Jesus and his earthly representatives (the Popes) truly want for us. They want us to be as HAPPY as possible on this earth and PERFECTLY HAPPY FOREVER in the next. Who else on earth or even beyond the world as we know it can offer us this? If we examine ourselves and stop to think for a minute—this is our deepest desire. We want to live forever. Only Jesus can grant us eternal life, and He has established His Church (the Roman Catholic Church), to deliver these opportunities to all of mankind throughout all of history, and to aid them in taking advantage of them. So now we have to ask the same question again. What are we afraid of: happiness, eternal life, the good and perfect God who offers them to us, or maybe the effort that this might entail, or maybe it is the sin, vices, and bad habits that we might have to give up? What is holding us back? Could it be the atheist brainwashing we got in high school and college, or fear of what we think our friends might say if they found out about our spiritual endeavors? As we seek answers to these questions, here are some facts to help put all of this into context. It is a profound part of our human nature to be religious, that is the yearning that God created within us to seek Him and all that is true and good. Every human society that has ever existed on the earth has had a religion. So when a person says, “I am not a religious person,” what they are really saying is, “I am trying to deny my own religious nature in order to live with the interior chaos of contradiction in the depths of my being, and I hope that doesn’t make me too depressed or push me over the edge into lunacy.” If that is not the case, then they aren’t human beings—they must be from other planets or universes, because our active denial of something so foundational in our existence can only produce these negative consequences. The majority of people around us claim to be, “Not religious persons.” Depression is the most common ailment among adults in the USA; notice children don’t suffer this as much, because they are not sophisticated enough to try and dupe themselves, and are still open-minded and generous enough to put effort towards new things. Next week we will examine ways out of this downward spiral of self-contradiction.