|Pieter LastmanThe crucifixion, 1616Museum het Rembrandthuis|
Saturday, January 26, 2013
Our Purpose in Life: A Catholic Perspective
I hear (and read) friends' questions such as "Who am I and what do I want out of life?" and "What's my purpose? Do I need a purpose?" I guess I've been too busy lately to contemplate these questions, or maybe it's just that I haven't needed to. After all, I know who and what I am, a child of God. But I don't like to see people floundering. I know how that feels.
When I decided to blog about these questions, I was at a loss as to how to answer them in a clear and eloquent way. On my own I came up with this:
My purpose, as a Catholic Christian woman, wife, and homeschooling mom, is plain--to serve God and my family, and to help others in various ways, i.e. praying, volunteering, donating food, clothing, or money to organizations that help the needy.
But not everyone has those particular vocations. What is the basic Catholic answer?
I did an "image" internet search-- "Catholic who am I." (I rarely Google in grammatically correct language.) The results were interesting: a few cards with variations of "I am a Catholic. In case of an emergency, call a priest" (because we need the blessing of the sick and/or Reconciliation), photos of priests holding signs saying "We can't wait for health care that protects life," and a many Rosary pictures, and other things (including some not so nice sentiments).
My favorite was a C.S. Lewis photo with a quote:
“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”
Of course, C.S. Lewis wasn't Catholic, though he was one of the greatest Christian apologists in recent history.
So, the verdict is-- We are called to seek the Sacraments, defend life, pray, and (if C.S. Lewis is correct) do things that are difficult, uncomfortable, or downright unpleasant. Gee, that doesn't square with what the world tells us--"Do whatever makes you feel happy."
I don't know how "happy" I feel when I'm cleaning up a child's throw-up at 2am. I don't always feel like donating money to feed the poor or volunteering my time to organize some homeschooling group. I mean, I get gratification in knowing I was useful in some way, but it's not always a barrel of laughs, or as C.S. Lewis puts it, "a bottle of Port." (What the heck is port?)
And I really don't think it felt pleasant for the martyrs who were shot, burned, beheaded, or ripped apart by lions.
I heard a guy on Catholic radio a couple years ago who reminded us to pray for the Lord's guidance concerning our vocation. To ask Him to make His will our will. I pray that for my children, who are still discovering their calling. I think it's a wise prayer, one that would benefit everyone. The trouble is, many in the world today don't want to surrender to God. That's too bad, because God is pretty dang smart (actually, "smart" doesn't begin to describe His mind) and he loves us more than we can ever comprehend. Look what He's done for us!