From invocation to use

Corrado Gnerre

Statistics have recently been published on the use of drugs by young people. These are terrible figures. We are literally getting used to self-destruction. But what is happening? I am a mother and I cannot tell you what concern I have …

Dear friend, a great saint like Alfonso Maria de Liguori loved to say: “Those who pray are saved, those who do not pray are damned.” There is a great increase in drugs and cocaine. Speaking of the latter, the Ministry of the internal affairs in Italy has been denouncing increases in consumption for some time. It is even recognized that the demand for this substance is so great that it is difficult to stem the market. Such a great demand attests its diffusion in all social groups. We speak of young people, adults and even the elderly. There is talk of the unemployed, of workers, of truck drivers, and – even more predictably – of artists, politicians and professionals. There is also talk of surgeons who, before operating, would use cocaine to obtain the right concentration.

Let us take up the phrase of Saint Alphonsus. It expresses an indisputable truth: only those who pray can conquer Heaven. But this first meaning underlies others (second but not secondary). For example, it implies the fact that without the wisdom of invocation man loses the understanding of himself and of his loneliness, that is, of the fact that he can feel “alone” in every adversity. To invoke also means “calling within”: not just “calling”, but calling so that the one who is called can do something in something: in a problem or in a situation. So, invoke those who experience loneliness, loneliness in a problem: How can I face this problem alone? Who will give me the strength?

Dear friend, the absurdity of our time is in having censored the need for company (we believe we can do it by ourselves) to substitute use for invocation. Man tries to solve his problem both in invocation and in utilization. However, if the invocation arises from the desire to fill a loneliness; the use, on the other hand, implies the presumption according to which an “other” is not needed, but only a “something” in order to solve the problem alone. Invocation underlies an interpersonal relationship (above all a person is invoked) and therefore underlies a sort of embrace; utilization, on the other hand, implies an instrumental relationship and therefore a sort of possession: the possession of an instrument and that’s it. The person invokes himself, the object is used.Where is the current paradox? It is in the fact that contemporary man, in order not to humble himself, has renounced invoking; and decided, to own, to use. It resulted that, by renouncing to invoke, man (in order to possess and not to distance himself from the illusion of being able to be self-sufficient) has lost himself, destroying himself. Strength is no longer to be obtained in invocation (prayer), but in use (for example, drugs).

Drugs have always existed, but they have become sociologically widespread due to bad teachers, but also because they have found fertile ground on which to take root. The fertile ground lies precisely in a man who has been taught to use and not to invoke, who has been taught that he can do it himself: that he would only need something and then everything will be resolved.

Dear friend, the solution? Without prejudice to the importance of using every means to stem and penalize the phenomenon, the Truth must be proclaimed from the roofs. We must win souls for God. We must enthuse about the beauty of Christian truth. In fact, Christianity is the only religion that really manages to bridge all loneliness. First: it is crucial to know that the Christian God is so willing to love his creature, that he has given all of himself … to the point of even being eaten. Other than drugs! Second: only Christianity offers the centrality of maternal tenderness in the existential dimension. The Christian God gives the Immaculate Conception, the One who allows all anguish to sink into the sweet tenderness of a mother. It is no coincidence that the saints loved and loved to say: “Jesus and Mary, you are the only reason in my life!”

(From La buona battaglia. Apologetica cattolica in domande e risposte, 2019©Chorabooks. Translated by Aurelio Porfiri. Used with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved)