An analogy is a comparison of one thing to another. There are many spiritual analogies out there, ways in which we can illustrate how Christians live in the secular world today. Let’s explore some of them.
Analogy 1: Lunar Expedition
When the Apollo astronauts went to the moon, they had to live in a very hostile environment for a week or two. This included the journey to the moon, as well as walking on the moon. Once the Apollo spacecraft left the Van Allen radiation belts which surround Earth, the astronauts were subject to solar radiation. If a solar flare would have occurred on the way to the moon, or on the way back, the astronauts would have gotten a huge dose of life-threatening radiation. While on the moon, the astronauts had to wear specially designed spacesuits, which provided both pressure and oxygen. Without the spacesuit, they would have been dead in minutes. The moon was a wonderful place to visit, but they knew that it wasn’t their home. Getting back home to earth and family was as much a goal of the lunar expedition as exploring the moon was. At all times, the astronauts had to listen to, converse with, and obey, Mission Control. Without the help of the experts back in Houston, the astronauts would never have been able to make it home safely.
How is this germane to the spiritual? We, as Catholics, also have to venture out away from the safety of our family and church, to work in the secular world to make money. Like the astronauts, we can get a huge dose of life-threatening radiation there, known as secular humanism, which is the mistaken belief that we are only made for this world, instead of for God and heaven. We should know that the earth really isn’t our true home either, any more than the moon was for the astronauts when they were there. Our real home is in heaven, not earth. Our protective radiation shield is our faith in Jesus which protects us from secular humanism and moral relativism. The Catholic Church, which was founded by Christ Himself, provides us with our protective spacesuits as well. Instead of oxygen and pressure, though, our protective suits provide our souls with sanctifying grace from the sacraments, as well as the life-giving Word of God. Without sanctifying grace and the Word, our souls would be as dead as a spiritual doornail in no time. Like the astronauts, we also have to listen to, and converse with, our own Mission Control, which consists of the Magesterium of the Church and God. As obedient Catholics, we don’t have the right to do our own thing in regards to salvation, any more than the astronauts could tell Mission Control and NASA to get out of their way so that they could do their own thing. That would have led to death on the moon for the astronauts, just like ignoring the teachings of the Church leads to our spiritual death here on earth. The analogy is clear: if we want to return to our true home in heaven, instead of dying on this hostile (to Christ’s teachings) planet, we must listen to what the Church teaches, obey as best we can, converse with God in prayer like our lives depended on it (they do!), and put on the Church’s protective armor of grace and the Word as often as possible. Otherwise, the toxic environment of this world, which is getting more noxious every year, will kill our souls and lead us to Hell.
The bottom line is that if you want to go to the moon, you have to join NASA, obey NASA, and get on a Saturn V rocket. You can’t get to the moon on your own. Similarly, if you want to go to heaven, you’d be best served to join the Church, obey the Church, and get the sacraments as often as possible! Trying to make it on your own into heaven would be as futile as trying to fly to the moon on your own!
Analogy 2: Deer Hunting
When a property owner decides to lease out his farm to deer hunters, he usually has a set place where he feeds the deer throughout the year. Every day or two, he will go throw out corn and molasses in an area where the deer feel safe. The deer love this sweet treat, and soon gather there every evening for the free meal. They have absolutely no idea that they are being set up for the kill. All summer long, they get fattened up, thinking that the free meal is wonderful and will never end. Little do they suspect that when deer season arrives in the fall, they will be killed in that very spot by the deer hunters who lease the property.
Spiritually speaking, this is exactly what the devil does to us with his temptations that we continually give in to. Like the deer, we love the feeling that our particular sin gives us, whether it’s pornography, masturbation, gluttony, lust for money, fornication, drugs, or whatever. We, too, believe that the fun will never end. But the wages of sin is death, and whether we know it or not, we are being set up for the kill. One day, our sinful house of cards will collapse on us, whether through betrayal by a loved one, divorce, an unforseen disease, an accident, a job loss, or worse yet, through death. God allows this in order to get our attention and to teach us about wanting heaven over the things of the earth. The solution, of course, is to repent now and not wait for the tragedy.
Analogy 3: Freeway Driving
Imagine driving on a freeway with no rules, except what we ourselves believe is best for us! There would be no Department of Transportation which would guarantee highway construction safety. Nobody would have to get a driver’s license. We could go as fast as we wanted to go, our vehicles wouldn’t have to be inspected, we could stop in the middle of the freeway, we could get off the highway when there is no exit ramp, etc. It would be chaos, every day, for everyone!
Now imagine society, where everyone has their own moral codes. People can do whatever they want, whenever they want. There would be no Church to guarantee the handing on of the faith and to define morality. Nobody would ever be baptized. We could all steal, rape and pillage others at will. There would be no accountability for our actions. It would be chaos, every day!
But thank goodness we have the 2000-year old Catholic Church, which has lived through the Roman era, through the Muslim invasion of Europe, through the Reformation, through the Renaissance, through the Enlightenment, through the Communist Revolution, through the Nazis in Germany, and through the moral relativism of the twentieth century. A church, in other words, that has seen it all, and that has formulated rules and regulations for mankind that will enable us to get into heaven. Those rules and regulations consist foremost in loving Jesus Christ and our neighbor, with a strong emphasis on biblical truth and morality. Without the Church defining what truth is, the demonic media, Hollywood, academia, and political party bosses will instead. And if we listen to them instead of the Church, then we are on the aforementioned chaotic highway to hell at 1,000 miles an hour.
Analogy 4: Gardening
In order to have a beautiful flower garden, there is a lot of preparation that has to take place. First, the soil has to prepared by plowing it, in order to make it soft for the roots of the plants. All of the weeds have to be removed, so that they don’t compete with the flowers for the nutrients. Once the flowers are planted, the soil has to be watered and fertilized, and given lots of sunshine. Lastly, a fence has to be put up around the garden to keep critters out who could eat the flowers!
Our souls are a lot like the aforementioned garden. We, too, have to prepare our souls through self-denial of our bodily cravings, to make it receptive for the virtues to take root in us. All of our vices have to be removed as well, so that they don’t compete with our virtues for our time. Once we have accepted Christ as our Way and the Truth and the Life, then we have to nurture (fertilize) this belief with the Word of God in print and the Word of God in the flesh (Holy Communion), along with lots of Son-shine! Last but not least, we have to go to Confession often to put a protective barrier around ourselves to keep the devil out of our lives. After doing all of these things, our souls will then be able to produce the good fruit of God’s love.
Analogy 5: Studying for Finals
In school, all semester long, we are subjected to studying our textbooks, attending classes, and taking tests. At the end of the semester, the dreaded final exams are held, which determine our future fate as scholars and professionals. If and only if we have studied hard and listened to what our professors had to say will we pass. If we just put down on the final exam what our personal opinions are, rather than what we have been taught to be the truth, we will fail. Personal opinions are fine things to have, but they do not replace what the university told us to be the truth.
In our lives, we must study the Word of God and listen to the saints in order to pass all of the tests that God throws at us. We know from the Book of Job that God allows Satan to test us. We must know what the Good Book says to do in these trials. If not, we will just react naturally, instead of supernaturally, and we will probably fail the final exam of life. Doing what comes naturally to us humans (sin) is what the devil expects us to do in all of his temptations. It’s only when we have studied hard and really listened to what the saints did in similar situations that we will react supernaturally (praying for our enemies, helping the less fortunate when we “have better things to do,” going to Holy Communion and Confession often, etc.) to evil situations and then beat the demons at their game. That’s what Jesus and Mary did, and that’s what all of their spiritual children, the saints, did. The Truth (Jesus) trumps our personal opinions on what to do in evil situations each and every time!
There are many, many more spiritual analogies to modern life out there, but these are just a few that point the way as to how we should be when it comes to our faith. Our faith in Christ is the most important thing that we have, because it will determine whether we spend eternity with Jesus or with Satan. Remember, we do not come to a natural end; rather, we come to a supernatural end. We must let our souls lift our bodies up into heaven one day, instead of letting our bodies drag our souls down to hell. Obeying Jesus and His Word is the key; believing in Jesus and His Word is not enough. We must obey Him if we love Him.
Like the old saying goes: Heaven is full of people who said, “Thy will be done.” Hell is full of people who said, “My will be done!”