Tuesday, June 22, 2010
To what purpose?
Many are in the habit of walking without direction. Rather than a definite idea of their purpose on earth, they have only a hazy understanding of what others have told them their purpose should be. Would it not be easier to find holiness if we could define it? For what end are we fighting? What is our final goal? We may never learn to ask these questions, but some will find them essential to peace of mind. In addition to this, perhaps we are not even seeking the ideals that our intellect has told us should be sought.
In the world today there are many extremes, but I will focus on three in particular. The first is to achieve heaven, holiness, and eternal life. Though this is contorted and misunderstood, it is probably the most common. The next is not so definite. This philosophy is held by professed agnostics, and that is to never put your hope in afterlife, or in what you can't understand, but rather to focus on the present as the great moment. Again some will discern this differently... one may say that in that moment you should make a difference, an impact on the world, while another might say that moment should be spent without any thought of the future, in enjoyment and fullness of life. The final extreme is this: to disregard any hope of an afterlife, and focus on this world alone. Evolutionists and atheists are the most common to hold these views, and thus naturally have a completely different take on life than most people. In their eyes life begins, and life ends, in a cycle of science and change.
I am not going to go into each of these points individually, although I thought it essential to explain my understanding of each of them. My main intent is to share my own insight in this matter. As humble as it may be, it is completely developed from spiritual intuition and my exposure to the wisdom of the saints. I have formed an ideal which I pursue without reservation, and it is an ideal that cannot fail, at least not for me, because of the direct implication of the Divine Compassion, in which I have absolute faith.
St. Therese is well known for her "Little Way." It is a way of life, even a state of being, that puts us into the hands of God to be used and guided as He pleases. It is true that one factor that enabled St. Therese to live this life was her great faith in God's goodness, but her desires were not focused on her reward, which she could never doubt she would one day receive. No, Therese's desires were absolutely unselfish, to the point of foolishness. She spoke of herself as the ball of the Child Jesus, which He could play with or set in the corner at His pleasure. Towards the end of her life she revealed the interior disposition of not even desiring heaven, for it would seem that to be happy she must cease to give Jesus pleasure and consolation through suffering. While this statement is actually contrary to the eternal love and fullness that must be present in heaven, and in the union of the Trinity, it does give us a major insight into what ideal we could pursue that puts us utterly and completely into the hands of God.
My goal in life is simple: to give myself entirely for God and others, whether my person could bring them good and pleasure in the end or not. I am not so presumptuous as to say that I am the tool that, through my sacrifice, will bring many souls to heaven. Nor do I lack the faith that the Good Jesus can and will do it through me. I do not think myself so perfect that my love and life will give pleasure to God, nor do I distrust His insistence that it does. I know that God's work in me alone is what achieves any good, therefore I claim no inheritance or reward, but at the same time I do not doubt that I will receive it. None of these factors waver my decision to give myself wholly and entirely to God, for His sake and the sake of others. Why? Because I have given my will as well, I have called Him God, and I know by the virtue of Charity that He deserves all things, and all others deserve infinitely more than I. Justice itself has justified my purpose, therefore it cannot be swayed.
You must not mistake this frame of mind as unconcern or indifference. My goal, the end I hope to achieve, does not double as my way of life. My goal, to be completely God's and retain nothing for myself, is yet to be reached. Indeed, one who has dedicated herself to God, given herself to God unconditionally, does not sit idly in His possession. God has shown me that love is the greatest good, and therefore I pursue love before all else... first love of God, then love of all my brothers and sisters. For the sake of this love, I seek personal virtue and holiness, so that I may cease to give God pain and give Him only what He wishes to receive from me. For the sake of love, I pray with the faith of expectation. I am unworthy, I hope to one day be utterly detached from all selfishness, and yet I pray for the consolation of others knowing the outcome of my prayer will bring them good. But finally, the greatest sacrifice, I admit my inability to obtain perfection and tendency towards failure. I acknowledge the sad truth that I am not my ideal, I do not even earnestly desire it (that alone would make a saint), therefore I can not give to God and others my great gift... but a poor one, one unable even to give.
I remind you that I am speaking of purpose in the sense of destination. The motivation of love could hardly be covered in this post. In simple words, I am seeking heaven, but what is my heaven? My heaven is true good, true love... it is not happiness, or possessions, or relaxation. My heaven is an eternal effort of justice, to give God the perfection He can only find in the human heart which He has created. My heaven is perpetual saintliness and virtue... on earth it can only be through pain and suffering, but in heaven it need not even be troubled by discomfort to be pure. I do not wait, I do not put off my goal... but I achieve it with every moment. How? Christ is always the same, always this heaven. The moment I cloth myself in Christ and leave myself behind is the moment I find myself in His arms, in eternity, immersed in the greatest good that I seek with all my heart. I seek, and I am, because who could truly know Jesus, even when He is present with them? He is an ocean of perfection, of mystery, which we could never exhaust. There will always be more in Him for us to find, even when our everything is complete.
I thank Jesus for my gift of my humanity... oh how heartily I thank Him! For in my sinfulness, my inadequacy, I find the only way to achieving my goal. I could never reach Christ, I could never satisfy the eternal desire He has placed within me, I could never tread the abyss of mystery that draws a gap within my heavenly soul, so Jesus comes to me. Everything that I am tugs the heart strings of God, I need only say that I love Him, and I shall have everything. I need only deny that I am anything, I need only put aside everything I seek, and grasp for God, whom I could never reach. I need only admit my limitless fault and weakness, my unstable determination, and cry out that I love Him. Who is to say He will then deny me anything!? How beautiful is humankind.
If it only remained with me, if my purpose went no further than myself, how could it be a purpose at all? If I loved, and received everything, what would it be if I have only loved He who is infinitely lovable in Himself? There is merit in this, by decree of eternal justice, but the human heart has been made to seek even more. It is not only God that I love, but others as well. And what love? A love prepared to be emptied and filled, used and grown, dead and living.. for any other infinite being on this earth. I did nothing to obtain it, but it is present. I am too weak to contain it, or to use it... I am too weak to allow it to make me a saint, virtuous and beautiful. Yet it is present, through the blessing of God, as long as Jesus remains present in us.