meaning of life

Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth

Is prayer a form of escape from the world? Is that the ultimate aim of Christian life – to leave this world behind and instead to dwell with God in heaven? Are we to live for the next life, and not for the present life?

Well, yes and no.

Yes, because we are made for God and for eternal life, and we must renounce all finite distractions that would keep us from Him. Our destiny is the fullness of life in God Himself and nothing less. We are told again and again to deny ourselves, to renounce the world, and to live for God alone. We must not fall into thinking that prayer or spirituality or the Christian faith are concerned primarily with improving this world and this life. The Christian faith has a far larger vision.

‘If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God.’ [Colossians 3:1-3]

But no, because Jesus came to save the world. He didn’t come to save us out of the world, He came to redeem the entirety of creation with us in it.

‘For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.’ [Romans 8:20-21]

So then, how can we have both yes and no? We save the world with Jesus, but only in renouncing it with Him. ‘Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose it shall preserve it.’ [Lk 17:33] In the same way, whoever seeks to save the world will lose the world, but whoever shall renounce the world will save it.

Jesus saves us and saves the world by the sacrifice He made upon the cross, present at every mass. In this sacrifice, He renounces absolutely everything, His life, His body, His soul, everything He loves and cares for (including you and me), offering it all to the Father. It is in this offering that we are saved. We are sinners, and do not have the purity of heart to truly offer ourselves to God, except by being united to Jesus’s own self offering.

This is the goal of Christian life and the heart of Christian prayer and spirituality. We renounce ourselves and the whole world, and offer it all up to God, united to Jesus’s offering upon the cross. Or to express it differently, we let go of our selves, of every finite thing, of every desire to control and possess and consume, and we entrust it all to God, to Him who is eternal love, uniting ourselves and all the cosmos to the holy sacrifice of the mass.

So then, what does this renunciation and salvation look like? For now, it looks like loving the world, but refusing to grasp at it, even in thought. It looks like placing ourselves and everything in our lives into Love’s everlasting hands. And in the end, it looks like the resurrection of the entire universe.

God bless you.

Am I wasting my life?

(tl;dr: Yes, definitely)

The other day I had to delete a couple of games from my phone because I realised they were a) addictive b) taking too much of my time and c) not even very fun. So yes, I definitely tend towards wasting my time and therefore my life.

Then there’s the time I spend watching TV. Multiple hours each day in front of the box. That can’t be good. And then there’s all of the things I do and then regret.

I like to imagine that when we die, God shows us all of the stats for our earthly lives, like you can see on a video game. Things like jokes told, total time spent on mobile (excluding phone calls), friends made, friends lost, total time spent in prayer, total money donated to charity, biggest expense, total time helping others, total time laughing, total steps taken, total carbon footprint, time dominated by gluttony/lust/envy/greed/wrath/pride/sloth, total apples eaten, etc. etc., and with breakdowns for all the data over time. But I don’t think my stats would look very good.

I also like to imagine we get to see a highlights reel showing all of our best and worst moments. I’m not sure I’ll like watching my highlights reel either actually… Too much bad and not enough good.

I’m glad to say that we’re not judged on the basis of these stats or highlights, and don’t have to reach certain thresholds to enter heaven (although they maybe give a rough idea of purgatory time). But I don’t want to die and realise I wasted my life. Or even just a portion of my life.

Why did God make you? A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next. [From the Baltimore Catechism]

So what am I going to do about it?

  1. Delete any apps that waste my time
  2. Use the daily examen prayer to make sure I use my time/energy/life right each day
  3. Commit more time to prayer
  4. Watch less TV

God bless

Why did God create?- God’s plan

Why would God, who is infinitely and definitively good, create? No quantity or quality of creation will ever increase the total amount of good that exists, since He is infinitely good already. Why should there be creation, if creation adds nothing to its creator?

Because of the nature of good itself. Truly, good is not like mere human desires and pleasure. It is not something to hoard, and seek for yourself. God’s goodness is not His being perpetually pleased with Himself. God is not the perfect drug.

Rather, it is in the nature of good to give itself. Goodness is inherently diffusive. At all times, the good desires to give itself, and to be united to others. Consider how a flower’s scent gives itself to those nearby, and is especially good as we are united with it by breathing it in, and how the flower advertises itself with beautiful colours, and invites in the butterfly, to drink of its sweet nectar, and so be even more perfectly united by nourishing the butterfly’s flesh.flutterby

Goodness entails a thing pouring itself out, into the other. Consider how the Sun doesn’t only illuminate itself, but all of creation. And consider how Brother Sun is actually destroying his own mass, at a rate of about 4 billion kilograms per second, to provide heat and light for the cosmos, and how the Earth receives this energy, and turns it to life! The Sun gives itself, and so is united with and internalised by Earth, and the Earth, filled with the Sun, leaps and hops and sings and rejoices!

So God did not create seeking goodness, but expressing and sharing and pouring out His goodness. And this gift is everything, because God created from nothing, ex nihilo, giving all things even their very being. God creates because He is good, not because He wants good. God made all creation, in order to share His goodness.

But God’s goodness is not content to stop at creation of the universe, but desires this universe to be bursting with God Himself. He is determined to share His very person, His very self, with us.

To this end, God sent His Son to us, as one of us. Jesus was in the heart of the earth three days and three nights, that the eternal life in him who is the resurrection and the life, might fertilise even the dirt of death, that life may burst forth. The only begotten Son of God comes to us as the Bread of Life, giving himself completely in the Paschal sacrifice, to unite himself to us, to fill us with his own life, that we may live because of him, even as he lives because of the Father (Jn 6:57).

God created the whole world, that He could give Himself to it. God gathers the whole universe under Christ Jesus, the head of all things for the Church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all (Eph1:22-23). God’s plan is for all creation, in the fulness of time, to rejoice with the children of God, perfectly united with Him, and unveiled in the glory of the children of God (Ro 8:21-22, 1Jn 3:2).

What is this incredible, self-giving, diffusive, unifying good? It is none other than love.

‘God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.’ 1 John 4:16

It is love that is good. Love is always in motion, always giving itself away. If God is love, and love is self-giving, what exactly is God giving? Doesn’t there have to be something existing itself before it can give itself? But God’s existence itself is not something passive, but His gift of Being. This is a great mystery, but I know, through and through, God is love. God is the ultimate giver, and all He asks is to be received!

We are to be thoroughly transformed by God’s love, through and through. We are to be full of God to overflowing, and we shall share in His glory, and rejoice with all creation, to all eternity.

‘God has placed you in this world not because he needs you in any way–you are altogether useless to him–but only to exercise his goodness in you by giving you his grace and glory.’ St. Francis de Sales

God bless you!

P.S. I just want to acknowledge that so much of this is informed by the wonderful book, ‘The Humility of God’ by Sr Ilia Delio. This book is quite incredible, and revealed a great deal to me, although there are parts I find myself disagreeing with still, and many times had to pause and check how what she wrote aligns with Church teaching, only to find she makes this clear on the next page. It was difficult but incredibly rewarding.

Robots, freedom, meaning of life (a bit) and God

What would a robot think about the meaning/purpose of its existence? I expect it would conclude, after much pondering, that obeying its programming is its purpose, as that is what would satisfy it, and that is what it is driven to do. It might decide that what its programmed to do is eternal, to deal with issues of its programming having no purpose or serving another purpose.

If it was designed to obey its creator, it would find purpose in that. Regardless what the creator commanded, the robot would, if designed properly, find greatest satisfaction in obedience. This robo-philosopher would probably decide that obedience to his master’s will and his master’s will itself are two eternal meanings behind the universe.

This sounds really creepy to me. Is the robot free? It doesn’t even care what commands it obeys, it simply desires to obey its creator. That doesn’t sound like freedom, though it is doing as it desires. It is still choosing its unquestioning obedience, its just that its an obvious choice to the robot.

I suppose it’s creepy because such mindless obedience, for me, is denying my self, though for the robot it is being true to itself. We aren’t made for that. We know obedience has to gain its meaning from what it obeys, and need to know this meaning. We cannot obey and simply trust in its meaning.

The reason the robot isn’t free is that it doesn’t know why it obeys. Not really. It believes from its own nature that obedience is its meaning, and it may reason that its master’s will must therefore be meaningful, but it doesn’t understand its master’s will or the meaning of its master’s will. It must work blindly. It has choice, undoubtedly. But it has no freedom because it doesn’t even know the worthiness that it serves.

But, thankfully, the human relationship with God isn’t like that [if it is according to any religion I’d be fascinated to know]. God lives in us. God is love. Our purpose is not obedience to God, it is to live in God and live in love, which are the same (1John 4:16).
It is because God is in us, and that we know Him, that we are free when we obey Him. We do not obey what we don’t know, we obey and follow Him that we know and love as the meaning of our lives.

“He that is kind is free, though he is a slave; he that is evil is a slave, though he be a king.”
St. Augustine

God bless you.

P.S. here’s a thought related to robots: if scientists found a simple robot on Mars, they would assume it was designed, and ask it to lead them to the far more complex and advanced product of natural accidents that designed the simple robot.

God bless you.

The meaning of a life

I’ve recently been grabbed by the question of the meaning of my life. I know the meaning of life as a whole (it’s love in its purest, most self-sacrificial form [Jesus-like love] [God is love]) but now I am faced with the unexpected question of what to do with my life.
I’ve been looking for grand things to do, and new ways to reveal and manifest love to the whole world.
But it striked me, just minutes ago, that we are unaware what the most significant thing we ever do is. Tomorrow I may begin to revolutionize the world, through a tiny gesture of love, or through sharing some tiny portion of truth, and perhaps never know my effect on the world.
I wouldn’t underestimate the impact a tiny but pure amount of love and truth could have.

The point I’m making here, is that because of the nature of human inspiration, its a life that is pure that will save the world, rather than a life that is grand.
This doesn’t give me the final answer of what I’m doing with my life, but it has made me more at peace, as God can use me whatever I do, so long as I live in Him and listen to him. I’m sure I‘ll be used greatly, but I don’t know that I will know at the time.

God is love, and he who is remaining in the love, in God he doth remain, and God in him.

1John 4:16

God bless you.