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Enlightening “The Difference God Makes”

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rev. Matthew D. Spahr, pastor for The Immaculata, spoke about “The Difference God Makes,” at the University of San Diego’s fall faculty/staff prayer breakfast Tuesday in the La Gran Terraza.

Spahr, a 1983 USD graduate (BA, philosophy), discussed his thoughts on the effective ways that God’s presence makes against society’s cultural ideas, including individualism, relativism and nihilism.

“Culture is a part of us that we can take for granted and we’re most affected when things break down,” he said.

Individualism, in God’s way, is expressed in the need for “dignity and rights” for every person. Relativism in society, Spahr said, has to prevent an attitude of the “triumph of subjective experience over real truth.” He believes the difference God makes regarding relativism happens when a person has a “true divine revelation; that (God) is the way, the truth and the life.”

The same applies to nihilism. “So many lives are marked by boredom, that life means nothing,” Spahr said. Looking for ways to cope with it, some even turning to violence to “feel alive.” But the difference God makes is visible and “comes through in the lives of the believers,” he said.

Spahr (pictured) also reflected on the importance of God’s presence in three key areas of our personal lives — marriage, illness and death.

A 2009 book by the Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Charles George’s The Difference God Makes: A Catholic Vision of Faith, Communion and Culture, Spahr said, served as inspiration for his topic on Tuesday.

In an October 2009 Catholic Chicago Blog entry after the book’s release, Cardinal George explained, “the theme of the book is simply that relations are prior to and more important than individual experiences in defining who we are and that the relation to God relates us to everything and everyone else. It takes a lifetime to grow into all these relationships, and the task is never completed.”

— Ryan T. Blystone

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