Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Journey of Life

Life is a journey and every journey has a destination. The destination that awaits us at the end of our lives is only one of two places. Luckily the place we will end up spending all of eternity is totally our choice.

At one end of the journey we have heaven where we get to have the beatific vision of God. A person cannot begin to understand what true love really is until they are fully immersed in love itself. There are no words in any language that can describe what it is like to be in the presence of God.

At the other end of the journey is hell. In hell there is only total love of self. Again, there are no words that can describe what it is like to be in hell.

God created man to live with him forever in heaven. God sends no man to hell. God finds man there by his own choosing. If hell is such a horrible, horrible place why would any person ever willingly choose to go there?

God is ἀγάπη, agape, sacrificial love. It is the total love of the other. Someone who chooses hell has only total love of self. For someone who only has love of self agape is hated above all else. Agape can be physically painful. They will do everything they can to get as far away from it as possible. This means choosing hell, choosing total love of self, over being in the presence of love itself.

God offers heaven to each and every man when we pass from this life into the next. To borrow an image from scripture, we will stand alone with Jesus over a charcoal fire. For the person who had never been introduced to Jesus he will be his best advocate for them. As he did with Saint Peter he will ask each of us a simple question – do you love me above all else (agape)? Very few of us can answer that with a truthful yes. As long as our answer is not no we will be given a chance to perfect the love we do have until only agape remains.

For those who answer no to his question Jesus will honor their choice made freely and they will be left utterly alone with only their love of self. They will be in hell.

Which direction are you traveling in this life? Is what you do done for the glory of God in love and service of others or is what you do done for love of self? One way leads to eternal happiness and the other leads to utter loneliness.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Lie of Secular Happiness and Joy

Catholic happiness and joy begins with selflessness and emanates outward in love and service to others. The secular lie is that happiness and joy centers on the self and all love and service should emanate inwards toward the self. The true root of all evil is the disordered love of self. Selfishness is at the heart of every deadly sin.

Lust – Lust is the intense desire to have something for our own, whether that is a lusting for sex, power, or knowledge. Adam and Eve lusted for the knowledge God was not willing to give to them when they ate from the tree of good and evil.

Gluttony – Gluttony is the intense desire for food or drink. It causes us to overindulge. We want food even when we do not need it.

Greed – Greed is the intense desire of possession. No matter how much of the object of our desire we have it never satisfies the desire for more. Adrenalin junkies push the limits of sanity with ever increasing dangerous stunts for the high they get by doing the stunt. Greed also presents itself as an intense desire for control or power.

Sloth – Sloth is intense lack of desire to be spiritually, emotionally, or physically active. Work has redemptive value to it. Scripture tells us that God does not like people who are lukewarm, people who lack passion. Sloth is the intense lack of passion.

Wrath – Wrath is an intense emotional response. Anger is both good and useful when it is just. Wrath is unjustified anger that often leads to the desire for revenge or other malicious intent.

Envy – Envy is an intense sadness when looking at the goods or goodness of another. Envy often drives us to find a way to justify our shortcomings. This is usually done by comparing our shortcomings to ones who are worse. God, I thank you that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.

Pride/vanity – Pride is unrestrained and disordered appreciation for one’s own worth. I am the best, the most knowledgeable, the most beautiful, etc. It is listed as the worst of the deadly sins for where pride leads the rest of the deadly sins usually follow.

All deadly sins reside and grow within a self-centered heart.

The foundation of this lie is Moral Relativism. God is sacrificial love and he gave us laws that flow from his very nature to insure that we live selfless lives in love for the other. For Satan to turn us from God he had to get us to freely choose selfish lives over selfless lives. He had to get us to think of the law as something subjective. When we allow morality to be personally defined by each and every person morality loses its meaning. What good is a speed limit when everyone is allowed to drive as fast or as slow as they personally deem safe?

Take the commandment Thou Shall Not Murder. Pretty cut and dried. One human shall not kill another human. Moral relativism allows a person to define murder for themselves so we get things like – one human shall not kill another human unless that human is an unborn baby residing inside the first human or one human shall not kill another human unless the other human is terminally ill and is going to die anyway. Moral relativism allows each individual to define what is morally right for them, rendering morality a useless measure of anything.

Hedonism is all about personal pleasure. Eat and drink as much of anything you wish. Do any drug you want. Have any type of sex with any person or object of your desire. With the restrictions of morality diminished or gone one is free to do whatever brings the self pleasure.

When one is the center of one’s universe it becomes easy to believe that one is owed everything just for being alive. The sense of entitlement grows proportionally to size of one’s self-centeredness. To receive something one is due is the definition of justice. To be owed something that one is not due is entitlement.

The cornerstones of this lie are pleasure, power, and money. The secular culture would have us believe that the more pleasure we have, the more power we have, or the more money we have the happier we will be. We are bombarded relentlessly with images and suggestions of things that would make us happy if we only had them. Even people become nothing more than objects to be used and thrown away. For someone caught up in this lie there is never enough. They never reach a point where they have enough money or possess enough objects. Pleasure becomes harder and harder to obtain. Extremes must be pushed to get the same response they did in the beginning. They are never satisfied. They crave more.

In the Catholic secret of happiness and joy everything starts with Jesus at our center and radiates outward in love for others in the form of service, stewardship, and shepherding. In the secular lie everything comes in from the outside in the form of I, me, and mine. Everything for a self-centered person revolves around what “I” have done, what has happened to “me”, or about the things that are “mine”.

The secular lie is a bright, shiny object that looks to be the greatest, most fun thing ever but it is nothing more than a card house built on a sand foundation. It is only a matter of time before it comes crashing down and the only thing that remains is agonizing despair and loneness.


Be a blessing to all you know and allow them to be a blessing to you.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Secret to Catholic Happiness and Joy

At the center of our faith is the Eucharist, the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. It is the source and summit of the Catholic Faith. Everything we do as a people flows from and goes back to him. The Eucharist is the number one reason to be Catholic, to become Catholic, or to return to the Catholic faith.

Ephesians 2:8
                By grace you have been saved through faith; and not that from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

This is the foundation of our joy, that through our faith in Jesus Christ we have been saved and redeemed. Death has no hold on us. Through our baptism we become adopted children of God the Father. 

We have been provided the structure needed to live a joy filled life in Exodus 20, 1-17 and Luke 10:27. The Ten Commandments flow directly from the nature of God and establish morality which shows us how to live just and upright lives. Jesus focuses these commandments into the great Commandment – to love our God with all that we are and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

There are three things that are repeated throughout all Holy Scripture. Anytime God interacts with his people, either directly or through one of his angels, we are always told, “Be not afraid. Peace be with you.”  When we trust in God we have no reason to fear anything. We can be at peace knowing that he will always provide exactly what we need. Even during times of great distress or persecution we can still live joyful lives through our trust that God will always be there with us. 

True Christianity is never a private relationship. Selfishness is the true root of all evil. We are called to love and serve our brothers, our neighbors, even our enemies. The more we empty ourselves in service to the other the more room Jesus has to live within us. Where Jesus is there is joy. There are three ways that Catholics fulfill this calling:

Servant – We are called to directly serve others. We are called to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, give shelter to the homeless, care for the sick, visit those in prison, and to bury the dead. These are the corporal works of mercy. The measure of mercy you give will be the measure of mercy you shall receive.

Shepherd – We are called to lead and guide others, both directly and as example in how we live our lives. We are called to instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, offer fraternal correction, bear wrongs patiently, forgive offences willingly, comfort the afflicted, and pray for the dead. These are the spiritual works of mercy.

Steward – We are called to be good stewards of everything within our care. Jesus was asked by the rich man what he must do to inherit eternal life. The answer was to sell everything and follow Jesus. When we choose to follow Christ we recognize that everything we have ultimately belongs to God and that we are nothing more than stewards of these things. We are called to care for all of God’s creation. He gave us dominion over all of the earth and its creatures to care for it and not to use it recklessly for our own profit. We are to ensure that objects under our control are used properly and not for selfish gain. With what we take we can make a living; with what we give we can make a life. 

True joy starts with Jesus at your center and emanates outward with love, service, and stewardship. The more you empty yourself in love and service to others the more God fills the space and the greater your joy becomes.

Be a blessing to all you meet and allow them to be a blessing to you.