In our lives, we frequently come across the question tearing at our hearts: why are we here? At this point in our lives, in our twenties, we start to wonder. Where am I going? Does what I do even matter? What should I do? What will make me happy?
We Catholics know the answer. It is difficult to interpret, but as a group we took a crack at it in our meeting on Monday.
Q: Why did God create us?
A: God created us to know, to love, and to serve Him in this life, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.
Enough said? Well, technically, but lets be a little easier on ourselves and apply this idea to its logical conclusions.
So, are we slaves of God to do whatever He bids? No, we are His adopted children, cooperating with him through a synergy towards our salvation. This is all fine and well, but it is not consistent with what we have long been told which is the cause of the crisis at this time of life.
We have spent our lives so far establishing our identities, and we have been told we can do whatever we want and that we should succeed and be great. Let's be honest, though. Life kinda sucks and does not work that way. We have become obsessed with doing things just right--finding our career and the perfect spouse so that we can lead happy lives. We want to be happy, but what is happiness. This we also know--real happiness is communion with Jesus Christ. This communion into which we enter sacramentally and grow into day by day is our salvation into which we enter fully in the next life. There is no guarantee of happiness in this life except in our encounter with our Lord.
What does this mean? Well, it means that it does not really matter if we don't find an enjoyable career, and we don't need to be overly concerned with finding the perfect spouse. Everything will be lacking to some degree--the gaps are filled by the cooperation of our work towards good and the grace of God. We must focus on being at peace now, more than being happy. In the liturgy we pray for freedom from all distress, and this is the peace that God gives to us, but all-too-often we fight this peace. Moreover, we must focus our lives on loving, for that is why we were created. Love and service will hurt us, but why should we expect anything better than our Lord, who loved perfectly and died a tortuous death for it?
How do we apply all of this to the crises in our lives? We must discern God's will for us. This requires, first of all, prayer and communication with God in all His Persons. We need to drop all attitudes and actions which lead to persistent disquiet and disturbance in our lives. Peace--we are to be at peace. Sometimes this principle will lead us to drop even big things from our lives. We must pray to the Holy Spirit for this peace. If we will accept it, He will give it so we can love God and do His will. Jesus became like us so that we could become like Him. Michael, which name means "Who is like God?" is a trick question--we are to be like God. Our salvation is becoming like unto Him, and we must have peace and love for Him to make this transformation in us.
In making any decision, we must ask whether it helps us love God or neighbor. If not, we should abandon it. All of us fail at this in some way, but we can begin to work on it. Sometimes, though, not all is clear. Sometimes because of our woundedness, we have to go down the wrong path (not evil, but just not right) to realize that it is the wrong path. We may not be happy at all in this life, but that in no way should discourage us. As long as we can devote our lives to the cause of Christ there is a redemption. Why do we do the right thing? Because it is the right thing to do, not for any reward. Therefore fear not, and do well!