You aren't an end in yourself....

How is your Lenten journey so far? What are you finding that is the most difficult? If you have fallen in your resolutions, get up and try again. Don't give up. Remember that Jesus fell three times on the way to Calvary and didn't bemoan His stumble. He got back up and finished the job that the Father had asked. So, you do the same as well. If you fall, no problem, just get up and talk to Jesus about it. Maybe you need to take yourself to Confession. Whatever it is, don't stop along the journey. Keep going.

Something has occurred to me lately. So, we know that man is the crowning glory of all creation. Jesus created in ascending order, so He began with day and night, water, stars, trees, animals, etc. and then man. Man is the only creation that was created for God alone. Everything else in creation was created for man to have dominion over and tend. Man is not supposed to live in slavery to creation, he is to master it and have dominion over it.

So that means that we were created to be stewards of the things of the earth and that our beings are created for God. He alone is what fills us and completes us.

So often we don't look for our meaning and end in God, we try to look to other places. Some people look to money, some people look to education, some people look to shopping or cars or clothes or cosmetics and some people (many I would say) look to other people, and even themselves to find their ultimate end and meaning.

Objectively speaking, there isn't anything wrong with material things or enjoying the company of others or looking to ourselves for answers and contemplation, it's when these things overshadow God or replace Hm that throws our lives way out of order.

We won't find out who we really are or our ultimate satisfaction in someone else. We won't find the meaning of our lives at Nordstrom's or Starbucks. We won't even find our purpose for living just by looking at ourselves with no reference point. What we are TRULY looking for we find in God alone. As David says in the Psalms "my happiness lies in You alone."

These material things and other people APPEAR to have the answer. But since they are creations, they won't have all of them. If we look to these things to fill our hearts and lives, then we become slaves to them. When we lose focus on our beginning and end (we came from Heaven, the heart of God, and hopefully we are going back there) then it is easy to worship what is here on earth.

One of the biggest forms of idolatry today is the worship of one's self. We do whatever we want without recourse to God. And when we do that, we are the ones who miss out. We are the losers for taking that path. Instead of being masters over creation and giving ourselves in loving service to our neighbor, we become subject to material things and also other people or try to lord ourselves over them. Neither way is the road to true peace because that's not how we were created to live.

Thank God, He is our end! We don't have to look to ourselves or other people or things to fill us because Jesus is more than happy to do that. When He fills us, it is lasting. His love, peace and joy are not a passing whim or fancy. It is not just a nice feeling but the very truth and tenderness of love. And that is what Lent is about, getting rid of what holds us back and rising in love.

So, whew, we aren't an end in ourselves.


miguelito said…
Yes, it’s amazing how easy it is for people to lapse into a state of solipsism, where they fail to take into consideration anyone but themselves, and certainly have no interest in God. Philosophers have often mused on how we can know things beyond our five senses. They are, after all, our windows into the world. But while all animals, and even some plants, on Earth have senses—many keener than any we possess—we are the only creatures gifted with the ability of abstract thought. Yet, why is it that people absorb themselves with their own sensory gratification, and take little time for thought, reflection, or prayer?

Certainly, self-centeredness and self-gratification is not purely a hallmark of our society or age, yet it is easy to fall into these traps in the over-stimulated world that we live in today. From our homes, to our cars, to our work-places, and public spaces, we’re all “plugged in” (or connected wirelessly through the ether). Everywhere we have some sort of connection to sources of instant stimuli--cable TV, the Internet, cellular phones, Bluetooth PDAs, iPods, GPS devices, and now, even surgically-implanted radio frequency tags!! It is the world of the 31-flavor-wide-screen-plasma-TV-aroma-therapy-digital-surround-sound-that-will-make-your-skin-look-and-feel-10-years-younger. It’s no wonder that we lose sight of God surrounded by all of this… noise.

A lot of it, of course, is driven by commercialism. While Mardi Gras is marketable, suffering will never sell soft drinks. For many, the partying doesn’t stop on Ash Wednesday. Sure, throw the garish string of beads at the pretty girls in the parade, but sit quietly for 15-20 minutes with your rosary beads, and reflect on the life of Christ—well, where’s the fun in that?

For me, one of my biggest goals during Lent is simply to unplug, to shuffle off the digital coil, to take pause, and spend more time in spiritual reading, reflection, and prayer. I suppose it’s ironic for me to state this when I’m posting a comment to a blog, and obviously surfing the Internet. Someone lent me (no pun intended) a book on the four Temperaments that I’m now reading. It reads like a self-help book, but is really about getting to know oneself and others around you, fostering virtue, and other good stuff. I want to finish that in the next few weeks. I also want to go to confession at least a couple of times between now and Easter. Well, those are my Lenten plans for the next five weeks or so. I like to think of it as a spa treatment for my soul. Have a happy Lent!

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