One of the cultural challenges we face in both living and proclaiming the faith is that the true faith doesn’t often fit our frantic pace and instant expectations. Consider that may today, including we who believe, demand the “Quick Fix.”  What ever the situation, be it sickness, a needed repair of something we own, the delivery of something we have purchased, a resolution of family troubles, or even deeper issues such as inner peace, we want a quick fix.

But many things do not admit of a quick fix, especially the deeper things of the human soul. And the faith we proclaim does not propose something so simple. In this sense, the faith is less “marketable” to our quick fix culture. We do not (cannot) say “Simply Come to Mass for six, sequential Sundays and your problems will be over.” Rather, we say, “Give your life to Christ.”

The solution of God and of the true faith insists on an often slow but steady movement toward God wherein he draws us in stages, ever deeper to Him, to holiness, to perfection. Little by little, our fears fade, sins diminish, we become more loving, patient, compassionate, chaste, serene and so forth. The process usually takes decades, no quick fix here.

And many medicines need to be consistently applied: daily prayer, daily Scripture and spiritual reading, weekly Mass and Communion, frequent confession, and communal life in the Church to include helpful friendships, faith-filled relationships and works of Charity.

There is an old saying that “Grace builds on nature.” That is to say, that God’s grace respects the way we are made by him. And just as it pertains to our physical nature to change slowly, almost imperceptibly, (but surely), so our spiritual nature usually follows the same pattern. And, while there may be growth spurts, it is more often the subtle and sure growth that makes the deepest difference.

I can surely say this has been my experience. I have been serious about my spiritual life for the last 28 of my 50 years: daily Mass, daily Scripture, daily holy hour, weekly confession, fellowship with my people, holy friendships and spiritual direction. And wow, what a change! But it has taken 28 years to get here, and most of my growth was imperceptible, day to day.  I’m not what I want to be, but I’m not what I used to be, a wonderful change has come over me.

Not the quick fix, not the fast rush, just a inching along like a poor inch worm (as an old Spiritual says). But praise God I am where I am today.

Lifelong plans may not “sell” but they are the way God insists on working.

On Fridays I have often tried to keep the post a little shorter and have tried to use a commercial to make my point. So how about this one:

  1. In the commercial, below the is a man, Jerry, who is in a “State of Regret.” In a certain sense (as we shall see), Jerry represents all who stray from the Church and God’s life long plan of faith, looking for a fast rush, and quick fix elsewhere, apart from the faith and the Church.
  2. Sure enough, Jerry’s regret is that he has dropped his “State Farm” Insurance and went with the “other company,” let’s call that company “Quick Fix Auto Insurance.” I allowing State Farm to represent the Church, I intend no endorsement, but do recall that “farming” is no quick fix business. It involves a lot of patient waiting and persistent working. Such is the work of the Lord and his Church, no quick fix, but more like farming.
  3. Jerry complains to his former agent “Jessica” (but lets call her “Mother Church”). His complaint is: It only took me 15 minutes to sign with that other company but it’s taking a lot longer to hear back. OK, so now he’s learned that there really is NO SUCH THING as a “quick fix” when it comes to many things. And so must we learn this same truth. The world, the flesh and the devil, often make such promises and sow seeds of impatience in us when God does not act instantly, when the Church bids us to be patient and persistent. But Now Jerry’s impatience has brought him further troubles, as we shall see.
  4. Jerry explains he’s had a “fender bender” The truth is Jerry has bent far more than a fender. He is in real trouble. We too often like to minimize our state when we have made bad decisions.
  5. Jessica (Mother Church) is sympathetic but wonders what she can do, for Jerry has ended his relationship with her. Without a relationship, how can she help him? Here too, Mother Church often wants to help us, but must have a relationship with us to help. God too, seeks communion with us, in order to help us. But communion, a relationship, with the Lord and his Bride the Church are necessary for help to be extended.
  6. Indeed Jessica (Mother Church) knows Jerry well, and seems, like a mother, to know implicitly and exactly what he has done. She knows he’s in real trouble and has “put his car up a pole” (again). There’s just something about Mother Church, she knows her children and what we do, she knows, and understands.
  7. Hearing Jessica’s (Mother Church’s) knowing but compassionate words Jerry breaks down and says “I miss you Jessica!” The ad then says, “Let it out Jerry! Then come back to State Farm.” Yes, indeed. And so too for us. Soulful and tearful repentance and a restoration of our relationship with the Lord and his Church, are the way out.
  8. Quick Fix Insurance Company can’t cut the deal. Come back to the Lord and his Church. The solution may not be “quick” but it will be sure if we stay the course.

13 Responses

  1. Patty says:

    Your mind and my mind were traveling the same path. Last week I was thinking that as time has gone on, I have also…to becoming a better person. I have a slower pace which allows time for meditation and prayer. I feel closer to Our Lord and find comfort in knowing He hasn’t given up on me and has my hand in His, leading me home.

  2. Justine says:

    What a great metaphor using this new commercial.

  3. Jean says:

    Thank you for this article, Father! It is just what I needed to read this week.

  4. Rick says:

    Brilliant as always. I always look forward to your ads metaphors (as well as your other posts).

    Regards from Australia

  5. jj says:

    Don’t be hijacked by your past. Amen.

  6. Mary says:

    Yes, the grass is always greener! In this case it not only seems greener, but also cheaper. What does that say about us? That we are always searching for the cheaper and easier way out. If we don’t have to spend the extra money, or get around spending the time or doing the extra work necessary to get what we need, we won’t, or don’t do it.

    When the consequences of those decisions come back to hurt us, we complain, moan, cry and generally feel sorry for ourselves because “someone did us wrong”. How quickly we forget who put us in the position we find ourselves in, in the first place. It really makes me chuckle. Self-sufficiency is the work of the enemy and will trip you up every time.

    We are so blessed to have a God who forgives us and by His mercy and unconditional love forgets all our transgressions through His Son Christ. God allows us the space and time to make mistakes, to seek Him and to finally go with, to the very core of our being, where God lives in us. He waits there in each and every one of us to become aware of Him and to start receiving Him in a personal relationship that is real and eternal in truth and love.

    In the words of “Fival Goes West” “If growing up was so easy it wouldn’t take so long, my son.” We are all challenged to find God living within us. Some find the grace of God within sooner than others, but all find some part of Him at some point in their lives. Romans 1:18-20 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them..For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

  7. Tom Reynolds says:

    Thank you Msgr, Pope!

    God is our ever-present potter and we are His beloved clay, the constant work of His firm yet gentle and loving hands. He is always ever present and near to each of us, His children, especially when we are broken-hearted, in trouble, lost, or despairing!

    Psalm 131

    1 My heart is not proud, LORD,
    my eyes are not haughty;
    I do not concern myself with great matters
    or things too wonderful for me.
    2 But I have calmed and quieted myself,
    I am like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child I am content.

    3 Israel, put your hope in the LORD
    both now and forevermore.

    Let us always say, in the best of times and the worst of times, “Jesus, I Trust in You.”

  8. MargaretC says:

    Thanks, Msgr. Pope, I needed to hear this. I am frequently discouraged by what I see as a lack of spiritual progress. It helps to be reminded that there are no quick fixes and that, since it took me 50 years to become the sinner that I am, I can’t expect to have the mess cleaned up quickly and easily.

  9. Russ says:

    I understand the metaphor. It’s a good one as far as it goes. However I find the State Farm comercial itself an offensive example of crass commercialism through emotional manipulation. Neither God or His church is a salesperson, an unforgiving representat. Good stuff except the wrong metaphor. “If the glove ‘don’t fit, you must acquit.” I don’t think it fits. State Farm’s cash for service does not offer the same love, or as in the example of the prodigal son, Luke 15:11-32., or a relationship with God as that taught to us by Jesus Christ. The metaphor is a good approach till one considers the commercial itself which I find deeply offensive and deceptive. It would imply our pain is to God and His church like a representative of a ‘for profit organization. The commercial itself is about ‘a quick fix with cash not the Holy Spirit. Like what happens if I get in trouble and…my premiums’ are not up to date? If my ‘prayers’ are not up to date is more to the point than ‘premiums.’

    • All analogies limp Russ. Analogy means “like” not “is” (ana + logia). What the ad does illustrate, that you seem to forget, is that the ministry of the Church and even of God is based on relationship, a relationship that is free and thus we must stay related to God and Church. Follow the ad through to the end, “Let it out Jerry then come back to State Farm….” Sounds like an invitation. Further, the prodigal you cite had to come back for his Father to minister to him the forgiveness he needed.

  10. Russ Lewis Russo says:

    My apologies Msgr. Thank you for the reply. What attracted me to your column was its title: “Revealing the Lie of the “Quick Fix.” Another in the Series of “Truth in Advertising…”Excellent. It did what was intended…It attracted my interest like a good commercial will do. I think your point is valid, inspiring and well written overall…I think too, it tends to underscore by inference a validation by the Catholic Church for the commercial. As a Catholic I resent that. The commercial illustrates a spiritual truth implies this motivation for making the commercial over their desire for future sales. If I’m right this is the lie of the “Truth in Advertising…” If I’m wrong, and I’m sure you agree that I am, that’s cool too. I look forward to reading more in this interesting series. I wish you well and God Speed.

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