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Without God, mankind slips into slavery, Pope tells Wednesday audience

Catholic World News - June 15, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI offered a reflection on the encounter between the prophet Elijah and the priests of Baal, during his general audience on June 15.

The Holy Father reminded the crowd in St. Peter’s Square that after the priests of Baal failed to light their sacrifice, Elijah “called on the people to come closer” as he prayed, and God answered his prayer by lighting the fire for the sacrifice. In this way, the Pope remarked, Elijah helped to draw the people of Israel closer to God, and remind them of God’s power and mercy.

The story of that encounter on Mount Carmel, the Pope said, offers three lessons for contemporary believers. The first is “the priority of the first commandment of God’s Law: having no god but God.” Next is the reminder that “the main objective of prayer is conversion: the fire of God which transforms our hearts.” Finally, the sacrifice of Mount Carmel is “a foretastes of the future, which is Christ.”

Pope Benedict dwelt at some length on the temptations of idolatry. As the Israelites fell into idolatry through a sort of syncretism, he said, modern man is tempted toward an idolatry based on materialism—“as shown by the totalitarian regimes of our time.”

“The worship of idols,” the Pope continued, “instead of opening hearts,…closes the person into the exclusive and desperate circle of the search for self.” Thus, the Pontiff said, “When God disappears man falls into slavery.”

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