Faith: The Tower in the Corn Maze

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin - Without a Doubt

I’ve never walked through a corn maze, but it looks like fun.

You know what a corn maze is I presume – a walking path carved out of a large corn field, with the depleted corn stalks so high you can’t really see very much around you. The challenge is to find the exit. It becomes a kind of a puzzle to explore, a popular activity for families and kids to try during the fall.

Some corn mazes are simple and small. Some are large and complex. If you want to see something really impressive, just Google “images of corn mazes” that reveal how intricate some corn mazes can become.

In fact, some corn mazes are so large and complex that on occasion people get lost in the middle and can’t find their way out. I’ve heard of individuals spending hours trying to escape, eventually calling 911 to be rescued. For that reason, some mazes have guides stationed at strategic points along the way, or even towers set up in the middle of the field, elevated stations which people can climb to get a view of the entire maze to find their way out.

Religious faith, it seems to me, is a lot like a tower in a corn maze. If our earthly pilgrimage is somewhat akin to walking through a corn maze, faith is the virtue that gives us the full picture, a better perspective. Faith helps us to remember how we began and points to our final exit. It reminds us that we came from God, are made in his image and likeness, and that we are destined for God again, to be united with him forever in heaven.

Faith imparts a spiritual vision of life and motivates us to take care of our souls, as well as our bodies. It inspires us to focus on realities “seen and unseen,” to celebrate festivals and feasts that lift our spirits beyond the confines of earth to consort with angels and saints.

Faith teaches us that death is not the end of life but rather a bridge over which we pass from this badly tarnished world to a new and better way of life where we will live in peace and justice and love forever.

Faith gives us a strong foundation of moral values on which we can build our lives in the “here and now” so that we’re not tossed and turned by every politically correct fad that comes along. It gives us the wisdom to know right from wrong, and the courage to choose the good, even when it’s unpopular to do so.

Faith reminds us that even if we do get lost on occasion, if we drift from the path because of weakness and sin, we can be lifted up, forgiven and begin to walk again with God as our companion.

Faith gives us assurance during the storms of life – when we suffer from illness, the death of a loved one, marriage and family problems, financial worries, anxiety about the sad condition of the world – that the storm will pass, the clouds will part, and the sun will someday shine again.

Really . . . I don’t know how people survive the challenges of life without some sort of religious faith. How do they deal with inexplicable disappointment, suffering and pain? If life is no more than a few quick years here on earth, destined to end in a pile of dust in some cemetery, where do they find the joy of living, the purpose and meaning of life?

People without faith – I feel sorry for them, and I worry about their well-being. How impoverished their lives must be; how sterile, how sad, how soulless their journey on earth!

So many of our young people, including nominally Catholic young people, have fallen into the quicksand of unbelief. They’re not involved in a faith community; they don’t go to church; they’ve eschewed any hint of spiritual guidance; their lives are totally secular. They’ve abandoned the religious heritage of their parents and grandparents and they feign religion only when it’s socially fashionable to do so, for weddings and funerals for example. “I’m spiritual, but not very religious,” they say. Bull feathers! That’s just a lazy man’s way of avoiding commitment I think.

Sorry for ranting, but there’s a lot of spiritual laziness going around these days, and it’s as worrisome as it is irritating.

Pope Francis used much more noble language to describe the importance of faith. In his encyclical, Lumen Fidei, he wrote: “There is an urgent need, then, to see once again that faith is a light, for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim. The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence. For a light to be this powerful it cannot come from ourselves; it must come from a more primordial source: in a word, it must come from God.” (#4)

Oh well, if you have the opportunity to walk through a corn maze this fall, I hope you enjoy it. Have fun and don’t get lost. If you do, though, ask for assistance or climb the tower in the middle of the field.

And as you continue exploring the corn maze that is your pilgrimage on earth, use faith as your tower. You’ll never get lost. You’ll find your way safely home. I guarantee it!