Congratulations! In your meanderings through the Internet, you have stumbled upon the meaning of life, which is concisely contained in the musings of this my blog. So, without further ado, I present to you the wisdom of all ages.
Paul speaks of the inner man in Ephesians 3:16, which says, "that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man." One thing this passage tells us is that the Spirit strengths us through the inner man. The outermost part of us is our appearance and actions. These can be seen by all. Deeper than that are our thoughts, desires, and memories. However, deeper still is a place that looks out on our thoughts as passing things. Even thoughts cannot define who we are in this inner place.
It cannot be observed, but it observed. Many people call the inner man the true self. However, this deceives beginners into thinking they can find the inner man by seeking the self. On the contrary, the self is an unknown concept for the inner man. All it knows is the other, as proven by the fact that it observes all but cannot be observed. Because of this, it is the grace to transcendence and love. If you find this place, you must not retreat into an attitude of indifference toward life. You must let the light you find there radiate out into a loving concern for all life. You must compassionately foster in others what you have been granted by God's grace.
Your life doesn't end at you. If you let your life pass through you to God, then God can pass through you to the world. Do not bear the brunt of all your suffering. Shift your burden to Christ Jesus. But to do that, you must not be attached to your pleasures, but offer them up to the One.
Man is a mixed being, a mixture of the finite and the infinite. You can never know the infinite, but you can know the finite and have faith that the infinite accepts the offering of your life and responds by living through you.
Life is not something that you either have or don't have. There are many degrees of life. Things that have it in abundance thrive and flourish, while those that lack it decay and corrupt.
Life is what makes a person an individual, energetic, passionate, virtuous, powerful, and confident.
Let's talk about where life comes from. We all need a constant source of life in order to survive and flourish. One way to get life is through food. Another is through the air we breathe. These are essential for all but the most refined mystics.
We also get life from personal interactions. A smile from a friend or a display of true sympathy energizes us and confirms our individuality. There are also negative ways of deriving life from personal interactions, through complaining, domination, pity parties, and revenge.
The purest ways of acquiring life are faith, hope, and love. While love has already been discussed, do not underestimate the power of faith to energize and vivify. Hope is also a virtue that is drastically underappreciated.
All life ultimately comes from God. "You take away their spirit, they expire and return to their dust. You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the ground." Psalm 104:29-30
Jesus Christ reveals the secret of life through his passion. By dying and rising, he affirms that life comes from its opposite through the process of resurrection. The Tradition of the Church and the treasure of Scripture abundantly confirms this truth, though our instincts rebels against it. Also, all of nature and the cultures of all people affirm that the cycle of life, death, and resurrection is one of the most sacred revelations of God's will.
So brothers and sisters, be blessed with the abundant life of Jesus Christ (John 10:10)! And I don't mean mere survival, but a luxuriant, tropical flourishing of energy, joy, and holiness.
"I feel angry." Nevertheless, I am at peace.
"I feel sad." Nevertheless, I have hope.
"I feel unsure." Nevertheless, I am confident.
"Nevertheless" is the inner power of unconditional freedom and goodness in the face of every circumstance.
"Nevertheless" is the courage to face onself without losing one's true self.
"Nevertheless" is the eternal life, something outside of the realm of time and causality.
Just as a diet of nothing but fudge would be disastrous for the body, so a diet of nothing but sorrow is disastrous for the soul. Enjoy a light meal of joy and remorseless rest from time to time in order to become whole and well.
Likewise, someone who subsists on lettuce will wither away. It is necessary to practice self-denial and sacrifice in order to become more than just a superficial and vain person.
The political discussion on same-sex marriage in this country revolves around legislating a particular view of morality. Punishment is exacted on or rights are taken away from people that do not conform to that moral system. These measures may be necessary in some cases, but nevertheless, I believe the root of the problem lies with how individuals in our society view marriage and human life. This is a discussion on my thoughts on this issue, with the hopes that it will educate people on both sides.
My experience is that the "noble" view of marriage in our society is the "true love" model. This is nice, and I'm not against love. I don't reduce love to animal instincts and chemical reactions, but it certainly is overly romanticized. The truth is that love doesn't always work out according to our romantic ideal in reality. This doesn't dissolve a marriage or make it pointless or valueless.
The concept of marriage as a union between two people is marginalized in our society. In marriage, two people become one. They become one in their actions, words, and thoughts, as can be seen in many couples that have been married for a long time. They become one in their goals and aspirations, pooling their financial and material interests to form one household. However, these ways to unity can be achieved in any friendship or partnership between any two people. The special unity that comes about through marriage is when a husband and wife become one in a new human life. This can only be achieved in its fullness between a man and a woman in a commited, loving relationship.
The importance of this unity is particularly incomprehensible in a society that prizes individual freedom as the highest good. The ideal love between a husband and wife is when they forego their personal interests and do what is truly good for the other and their relationship. This is a higher good than personal happiness, and leads ultimately to satisfaction on the deepest human level. The marriage vow trumps personal desire, which is foregone out of love at the moment of marriage.
Because of the tragic nature of the human condition, sometimes a husband and a wife are forced to separate. These circumstances call for not only extraordinary compassion to the people involved but also a respect for the indissolubility of marriage. True love is final and unconditional, though it can no way justify abuse or sanction it. In some cases, the vow never happened because of an inability on either side to make the vow completely and sincerely.
Unfortunately, familial arrangements that are becoming fashionable like same-sex parents, group parenting, in vitro fertilization, and artificial insemination can not fully realize the life-giving, personal, sexual bond that gives true marriage its noble character. While homosexuals can participate in all of the virtues of friendship, their love can never become one in a new human life through a complementary union.
This also brings in contraception, another issue that people are only educated on one side philosophically. Contraception blocks the life-giving union of love that makes a marriage different from a friendship or partnership. It fractures the relationship at its deepest level. Contraception places the self above the relationship.
I think educating people about this view of marriage will go a lot further to healing our broken homes than legislating goodness. But we have a long way to go because the mass media preaches a truly horrible view of marriage and sexuality. I can't turn on the TV without subtle and not-so-subtle messages about how all men are rapists, parents hate their children, and marriage and parenting are mistakes or last resorts. That is where I would start.
This is about more than the philosophy of what the word "marriage" means, but it demonstrates the value that is placed on human life and where it comes from. I can't outright condemn those that do not conform to this view of marriage, but I would plead with them on these grounds if I had the chance.
In ancient times, many people thought of the divine as cruel, fickle, and self-concerned. The gods of Olympus and fortune were as prone to blessing as cursing, prosperity as disaster. The ancient gods seemed to emulate the impersonal forces of nature.
Christianity teaches us that God is nothing like that. He is loving, not cruel. He is personal, not indifferent. Though some Christians still conceive of God as vindictive and self-concerned, this message is about a misconception that is a lot more subtle and pervasive. It's about what it means to be divine, and how many misunderstand God's character without realizing it.
I want to talk about becoming a god. The divinization of man is still a controversial topic in modern Christianity, despite Biblical evidence ("You are gods." John 10:34, Psalms 82:6) and traditional support ("God became man into order to make men Gods" St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas). After all, what is the Eucharist about, when a mere mortal consumes the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ? It's an outright denial of the true presence to say that the Eucharist merely makes us more like Christ. God and man become a part of each other by consuming the body and blood of Jesus Christ!
Man's divinization is controversial because people still cling to the idea of being a god as being all-powerful and making everything revolve around oneself in a completely selfish way. But if being divine is like that, doesn't that make God like that too?
While I am certainly not challenging the omnipotence and centrality of God, I am challenging what people think it means to be godly. The revelation of Jesus Christ reveals a different character to the divine. Jesus did not choose power, but weakness. He is not proud, but humble. He is not self-concerned, but sacrificial. He does not judge, but forgives. He shows us a model of the divine that is contrary to everything debased about our humanity. And yet when people think of becoming a god, they immediately think of power-obsessed, proud, self-concerned, and judgmental: the exact opposite of Jesus Christ, the God-man. This is a mistake of not knowing who Jesus really is, not a doctrinal error.
In the context of Jesus Christ's humanity and divinity, becoming divine is not the perverse obsession of sinful man. The mistake that Adam and Eve made when they were tempted to "be as gods" (Genesis 3:5) in the garden was misunderstanding the character of God, doubting his goodness, and fearing that godly obedience is a form of slavery and oppression.
It may be that true divinity may involve a lot of sacrifice, self-denial, obedience, humility, and morality. It may be that these things aren't as bad as people take them for. It gives more credence to the Christian idea that God offers us perfect goodness and we reject it as something undesireable. It gives more credence to the idea that everything we want and need is right under our noses, but to grab it, we must give up our very selves.
We will always be creations of God that are dependent on him for everything, but sacrificial love truly does make us divine, though not in the way it is commonly understood. Self-sacrifice fulfills the promise of salvation, life, peace, happiness, and forgiveness. It is not selfish or sinful to want to be divine, because "God is love," (1 John 4:16) and "love does not seek its own." (1 Corinthians 13:5)
One problem with this idea is thinking that becoming divine means that the self becomes a replacement to God. In no way am I saying that salvation comes from anyone or anything but Jesus Christ. Nor am I saying that becoming one with God means the annihilation of the self. A person can become united with God in Christ at the same time the self is confirmed and created in a uniquely powerful way. God bless!
Turn all suffering into joy through love, and offer the result to God, keeping none for yourself.
Have an eternal self-image.
The self is not changed by circumstances.
The self is not autonomous of the world.
You are dependent on other things to exist.
Be satisfied with nothing less than the eternal.
Nothing temporary can ever bring happiness.
Learn how to prosper and suffer need gracefully.
Be content with what you have in life.
Rely on grace.
Make every effort in your power to do good.
Faith is a necessary component of peace because the eternal is invisible.
Be content despite the mystery.
You don't have the eternal yet, but you will.
Live in the moment.
The present opens up to eternity.
The greatest gifts come by free grace.
The only way to give oneself meaningfully is to do it freely.
Savor the invisible.
Love the concrete.
Do not look for satisfaction in anything material.
See God in all things and all people.
God's holiness means that he is separate.
He is above everything temporary.
God is in all things
In him we live and move and have our being.
If you are suffering, God may not have given you the consolation that you see the undeserving receive, but he gives the greatest gift to those that suffer: himself. God is closest to the suffering. There is a God, and he is merciful, good, and--you will have your day!--he is JUST!