In a world where many people are so lost and out of touch with who they are and they want, we sometimes get caught up with the daily anxieties and problems, too, that we have lost sight of our final destination. Even though we have heard many people being vocal about what they do not like or want in life, we have not really heard what they really want or truly desire for their own lives. Of course, people can tell us what they want “more” in materialistic terms, but no one seems to be able to put into words what they really want in qualitative or substantial definitions, understandings, and values. We seem to always want “more” but having simply more materialistic things really have not satisfied people! Perhaps, what we want, then, is not simply more in quantitative terms but better, substantial, lasting qualities that are life-giving and nourishing.
While we have done a better job in affirming human values, loving and caring for one’s self, respecting others, and being more tolerant with differences as to be able to coexist and live in harmony, we have also allowed these well-meant initiatives to dictate and control our lives as well. What used to be looked at means to achieve better relationships and understandings now have often become dictatorial, oppressive, and confusing ideologies, agendas, and ends to themselves. The overemphasis on anthropocentrism has made humanity the beginning and end of themselves, removing our teleological, purposeful, definitive, and eternal understanding of ourselves in God. We have lost, and at times so confused about our identity, mission, and purpose as created in the image and likeness of God because we have become more focused on trying to define our own self-centered identities. Too many people have lost hope and faith because they no longer know their purpose, beginning, and end, hence just becoming so preoccupied in trying to make it through lives on their own self-willed and ego-centered triumphalism, simply trying to survive and live in the humanistic rat race and materialistic struggles.
Have we really won if our young people are more lost than ever? Have we really won if we keep being enslaved by the things of this world, wanting and chasing for “more” but never really happy? We can only have peace with ourselves, able to love others genuinely, and learn to live in true harmony when we know what is important in life, why we believe, who is the source of our trust, and where we are going. When we know the essential foundations of our identity, we will be able to discern through both prayer and virtue what is necessary to put our faith values to work in the here and now of our world. Without genuine faith, we become a self-centered, hypersensitive, fragile, and vocal world, where everyone only cares about themselves, use others as needed, and trying their best to be known. Our relationships will suffer, as well as our true identity, because we have been trying too hard to be someone else than our very own self, created in the image and likeness of God, willed into being and loved by Him.
Only in keeping God‘s law can we live a meaningful, full-filled, and genuine life of love with our neighbor. Our works will then have meanings because they are no longer ends in themselves, but as tools to provide and sanctify ourselves, connected and grounded in prayerful discernment. When we are aware of His goodness and love in creation, we will be able to take time to truly care, get to know, and be good stewards of His gifts in nature and society. It is sad, but many of us are so out of touch with creation and nature. Everything has been commercialized and presented for us in nicely-packaged forms but so detached from original sources that we are becoming more disconnected from the things that nourish and give us life. Furthermore, we have also become so lost with who we truly are spiritually. Many have stopped praying and ceased to grow in their very own spiritual journeys toward God.
Yet, Christ is living among us, especially in the Church. He calls, gathers, and unites us with one another through His ministers. He nourishes us by the sacraments, which is then deepened through personal and communal prayers and devotions. Therefore, if we do not understand why we believe, our faith will become malnourished and shallow. Mass becomes boring, personal devotions decreased, priestly and religious vocations plundered, and the life of virtues is thrown out the windows. We often think that we will change the Church by making it more attractive, yet we have been so naive that we have secularized the Bridesmaid of Christ. Too many in the past were willing to profane the sacred in exchange for cultural appeals and trends.
We often think that loving God means that we know that He is there and say our prayers from time to time. We think that we are good Catholics as long as we are patriotic, pay our taxes, do not break any law or cause any scandal to others, and do some charitable works from time to time. Too many have stopped going to Mass as a family regularly, ignored the beautiful Sacrament of Reconciliation until the deathbed or when something tragic happens, and became too busy to pray together at home. Our children and young people have become more illiterate in religious vocabularies and lost in their spiritual lives because they have not seen them put into practice by their parents.
We, for the most part, have made our children so poor in their prayerful and spiritual journeys that they have become fine with being “raised Catholics” but never kept the faith because it was never an essential part of their everyday lives. As a matter of fact, we have become so dull and lost in our very own religious understanding and vocabularies that our Christian life and its powerful witness have been minimal. We are scared of showing our faith because we are scared of being judged, ignored, or isolated by others as if the Church and Christ are causes of shame for us. We have become ill-prepared to teach and form our young people because our very own lives of faith have shrunk and we have forgotten why we are Catholics.
Perhaps we have forgotten that our lives are not our own and that we are called to be witnesses of Christ Jesus. Unquestionably, our mission and purpose as baptized Catholics have never changed for we were baptized into Christ‘s own royal priesthood, kingship, and prophet offices, incorporated into His Mystical Body, and sent forth to preach the Gospel. Our very ways of life are not just to point to ourselves or personal goods but for the salvation of souls and greater goods of all. Each and every one of us needs to remember that our very faith journey needs to help and lead people to the Lord.
Our lives are beautiful and worth living when we are able to ground our very selves in Christ Jesus. It is not always without strifes and struggles, but we are able to find peace and rest in Him. The roads are not always straightforward and smooth, sometimes ours will be a little bit rough and longer than others, but the journeys are always grace-filled and beautiful. Often times, our obstacles and detours help us to slow down as to reflect, understand, and appreciate small beauties along the way. Therefore, let us not lose sight of our final destination and become more attentive in helping those along the way so we can lift our society and those around us to the love of Him who cares and nourishes us deeply from within. Truly, this journey is not about us or about what is in it for us… It has always been about Him! So, let us keep our eyes fixed on the final destination as to persevere and endure the race toward the One who loves us. Life is worth living when we know where we are going, who is with us, why it is worthwhile, what to do when we are tested, and most important of all, what is waiting us at the end of our journey.