When a Person Looks for Himself, Does He find God?

“When a person searches for his or herself, they find God."

I dispute this. I only find God when I search for God. Even in a Church, if I ignore the Tabernacle, God is there, but I have not spotted Him. If I search for myself, I find myself and I am not God. Very often the search for self is about dethroning God. I search for and find myself 99% of the time. It isn't very rewarding. Neither is it good or beautiful. If it is "honest", it is because, quite honestly, I am very selfish.

"Maybe, they don’t succeed in finding him".

I don't dispute this since in searching for ourselves, we usually find ourselves, not God.

"But they are going along the path of honesty, searching for the truth, for a road of goodness and a road of beauty…"

I dispute this. To search for yourself often leads to introspection, depression, unhappiness, selfishness and ego-centrism which we know as Pride. Of this I am guilty. I do not recommend it. Seek Christ with your whole heart.

"They’re on the right road and it’s certain they’ll find God!"

I dispute this. Here is contradiction #1.  His Holiness has already said, "Maybe they don't succeed in finding him", yet now His Holiness says, "they" who are searching for themselves, who perhaps do not succeed in finding him, now "certainly" find Him because they are "going along the path of honesty, searching for the truth, the road of goodness and beauty." There are no caveats here. There should be. One who searches for beauty may find it in the Latin Mass. Another may find it in the National Trust, another in a brothel or gay sauna. What a lover of beauty St Augustine of Hippo was and he definitely found God...Bigtime!"

"Sooner or later, they will find him."

I dispute this. When? Can it ever be too late?  This is contradiction #2. His Holiness has already said, "maybe, they don't succeed in finding him."

"But the road is a long one and some people don’t find him in their lives."

I do not dispute this, but this is contradiction # 3. "Some people", now, "don't find him in their lives", even though His Holiness said it is "certain" they will find him.  If they do not find him in their lives then, having searched for themselves, instead of God, can they hope for Salvation, or should we be warned that Christ wants to save us from everlasting death through a relationship with Him in His Body, the Church?

"They don’t find him consciously."

I do not dispute this, but ask whether in contradiction # 4 we can seriously find God unconsciously or sub-consciously in such manner that we are oblivious that we have found Him at all. A state such as this for the vast majority of people would surely denote a total absence of Faith. We would describe a total absence of Faith, as, if not as a conscious rejection of God Himself, agnosticism, or, as in a wilful rejection of God, atheism.

"But they are very true and honest with themselves, very good and lovers of beauty."

Cue this sweeping generalisation from the Successor of St Peter who, as part of the Deposit of Faith, teaches the doctrine of Original Sin. Yes I dispute this assertion also. In searching for ourselves instead of searching for God, in preferring our own will above the Will of God, we are not necessarily being very true and honest with ourselves. We can go further and suggest that, in fact, we are gravely deceiving ourselves or have been deceived by the Deceiver, the Devil. I know very good people, but it is God Alone who is Good and has given them wonderful virtues.

"So that in the end they have a very mature personality..."

Having a mature personality will profit me nothing if I die, impenitent, in mortal sin.  Not that I possess one, mind.

"...capable of an encounter with God, which is always a grace."

Capable of an encounter with God in this life, or in the next? He, or indeed I may be "capable" of an encounter with God at his or my Judgment, upon his or my Death, but are he or I ready? Would it not be better that he or I encounter God's mercy, forgiveness, mercy and grace in this life rather than face Judgment without it.

"Because an encounter with God is a grace.”

But, Your Holiness, the person has not encountered God, but himself.  That is all he has encountered for all of his life (as well as beauty). Is there not a danger that such a person may be at risk of encountering himself for all eternity, instead of God, Whose Face never shall he see? It is not a grace to hear from the Lord, 'Depart from me, you accursed, I never knew you, go with your curse upon you into the everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.' It is a curse. Are we seriously saying that happens to nobody but the mafia?

"Late have I loved You, O Beauty so ancient and new., late have I loved You."

"Yet you were deeper than my inmost understanding and higher than the topmost height I could reach."

St Augustine
This is surely what His Holiness means because, if truth be told, this is the kind of stuff I expect to find in a new age shop in Brighton. When the Catechism tries to address this issue it does so soberly, prudently and is still able to communicate that Christ is always necessary for Salvation because He is the Saviour of Mankind Who alone can save us. We cannot presume the Salvation of anyone but those known to be in Heaven by the Church of God.

Nothing in Scripture, nothing in the writings of the Saints and the Fathers of the Church or the Popes suggests that Jesus is in any way indifferent as to whether we believe He is our Saviour, or not.  Nothing that Jesus said could possibly give us room for presumption concerning our salvation or that of others and if His Holiness keeps talking like this, unless Jesus Christ has let His Vicar onto a very big secret indeed, let us be quite clear: there is no reason why you should become a Catholic or even teach the Faith to your children. After all, they'll find God in 'their own good time' and they'll do it, 'my way''.

As I live, says the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked man; rather let him turn from his evil way and live.


Liam Ronan said…
The first two sentences quoted are obviously self-contradictory.
Some of the most profound narcissists I have known in my life, exquisitely self-absorbed and exclusively attentive to their own thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and behaviours make me question the logic of the proposition that when a person looks for himself he finds God.
Anonymous said…
The Church has always thought and taught that one finds God in the search for objective truth. That wishy washy new age stuff won't help the young persons find God.
Yes, I thought exactly as you thought when I read it.

The Pope remains an enigma to me too despite (as you say) him speaking so much.

Certainly, some of what he says is very inarticulate.

Curiously, some of his homilies and officially written speeches are not too bad such as the General Audience speeches. There is much beauty in them. I suppose however that is because they are properly drafted and revised.

I tried to read Evangelii Gaudium and gave up. It seemed as if everything had been thrown into that document. And I am not averse to reading long Papal documents. I loved the documents of JPII and Benedict.

The most I can definitely say about this Pontificate is that it is not a teaching Pontificate.

As an aside, who would have thought that a Pope would be silent when a country ie. Belgium passed euthanasia for children.
Anonymous said…
We are made for God, desiring to know Him better. This we learn when we honestly confront the mystery of our own existence. It isn't narcissism; it's a path to God for those like the young Augustine who have no knowledge of Him but have the integrity to desire the truth and to follow where it leads.

Romulus said…
The human person is made for God. Those like the young Augustine who don't know God can nevertheless be led to him by an honest and unstinting consideration of the mystery of their own existence. It isn't a substitute for the Church, but can be truly helpful for those who need to be led to the Church and possess the integrity, or at least the hunger, to desire truth and to follow where it leads. Narcissism will not satisfy such as them.
The Bones said…
I am not saying that there is no possibility of Salvation for such. It is, however, presumption to consider that anyone is wiser than Jesus Christ Who said:

'Broad is the way to perdition, and many go that way, narrow is the way that leads to life, few be there that find it'.

The mission of the Church is to make Jesus Christ known and loved and proclaimed, not to offer platitudes to those who reject Him.
Ike Brown said…
Pope Francis is speaking double-talk. This paragraph of his so filled with contradictory statements and half-truths that it is almost laughable!
"...they find God. Maybe, they don’t succeed in finding him...it’s certain they’ll find God! Sooner or later, they will find him... some people don’t find him in their lives. They don’t find him consciously..."
Well, which is it?
And then this blog has to say at the end "This is surely what His Holiness means..." because nobody is supposed to be able to understand what His Holiness said. We have a world full of "Papal Translators" who all try to tell us what the Pope meant to say. Just read the actual words of Pope Francis and that's what he said and that's what he meant. And what he said and meant is seriously worrying.
Patricius said…
"When a person searches for his or herself...."

What do these words mean?
In English two possible interpretations are plausible. The first is that "himself" or "herself" is the object of the search. Equally plausible is an understanding of a search carried out independently or autonomously. In the first case the finding of God would be, to all intents and purposes, accidental as far as the searcher is concerned. In the second interpretation God would be the intended "object" of the search.
This is the kind of confusion that arises when people speak "on the hoof" without carefully preparing what they want to communicate- all sincerity and little sense!
tro said…
I don't think you caught all of the Pope's comments, Bones ;)

Allow me ;-)

"Look at it this way. A man takes a job, you know?

"And that job-- I mean, like that
--That becomes what he is.

"You know, like-- You do a thing and that's what you are.

"Like I've been a pope for over a year.

"I still don't live in my own palace. You know why?

"Because I don't want to. That must be what I want.

"To be in a hotel, living in someone else's gaff.

"You understand?

"I mean, you become-- You get a religion, you become the religion.

"One guy's a Muslim. One guy's a Jew.

"You got a Buddhist. Another guy's a Mormon.

"Another guy dies. Another guy gets well.

People are born.

"It's not Denzinger."

As told to 'Paul Shrader' ;)
"28 And it came to pass when Jesus had fully ended these words, the people were in confusion at his doctrine. 29 For he was teaching them as one having serenity, and not as the scribes and Pharisees."
Anonymous said…
That's more clear and coherent than usual!
John Vasc said…
I tracked down and listened to the video of the Pope's interview with the young Belgians:
http://www.een.be/programmas/koppen - at 18'25" into the tape.

The Pope did not actually say (as was reported by Vatican in English) “When a person searches for his or herself, they find God."

Nor (!) did he say the different version quoted in the Italian version of the same report: “Quando l’uomo trova se stesso, cerca Dio."
["When a man finds himself, he is searching for God"]

What he is actually saying on the live video is:
"Quando l'umomo si trova se stesso, cerca Dio". This is not proper Italian, but if you look at his gesture and emphasis, and consider the use of 'se' in Spanish, he apparently means to say "When a man finds himself in himself, he is [actually] looking for God."

If so, that remark, though still very incoherent and scarcely less sensible, was at least (probably) not an actual heresy, as the two reported versions are!!

As to the rest of the interview, ho hum.
I begin to wonder if it is worth all this trouble to interpret what the Holy Father says, as I doubt he himself sometimes has a clear meaning in mind when he starts to speak.

It certainly adds a novel intensity to the Lenten 'jejunia' :-)
Lepanto said…
The Times yesterday carried an article about obscurity in the public speech and writing of politicians. It concluded that, where the audience could not readily understand an article or speech, there were only three possible conclusions: 1)that the writer/speaker is an idiot 2)that they do not have a clear grasp of the matter in hand and are trying to mask their ignorance by obscurity or 3) that they do not wish the audience to be aware of their true view and so consciously mask it in obscurity. No's 1 or 2 might be the more charitable of the options here but I do wonder about no. 3.