Sometimes when reading in the forums I get the idea that we are so focused on gaining Heaven that we kind of forget the day-to-day aspect of that process, or even that it is a process. I was reading one topic where there was great discussion on proving a point of view rather than living out a point of view. No, I am not identifying the forum or thread because, in fact, in the midst of the kerfuffle, people are living out their understanding. Whew. It is perplexing.
I believe that these two positions need to be co-occurring. In having your focus on the end you will naturally strive to conform your daily living to Christ’s teaching.
The two are not mutually exclusive.By conforming our will to our Lord’s daily,we will also be moving towards the end goal which is Heaven:)
We live our daily lives in conformity with God’s will *because *we focus on our final end.
I agree with the poster St. Francis, too.
Every day we are striving to get towards the end. So, in my opinion, it is important how we live our daily lives, because it is going to affect the end for us.
I agree that maintaining an awareness of the “end”, a desire for heaven or union with God is important. BUT, it is the day to day living with all the ups and downs which will finally lead us there in hope.
Here’s my take on the issue. A few points up front: although I was raised Catholic, I abandoned the faith for 22 years. It’s now been 16 years and a bit since returning to the faith.
We read on these pages a lot, that you “have to believe X and reject Y” to be “Catholic”. The truth of the matter is that we don’t really become fully Catholic until the very end… if at all. I believe it’s a life-long transformational process.
Too many people think that all we have to do to grow in sanctity, is to follow the regulations. As long as we obey the rules 100%, and go to confession for when we fail, we’re OK. Confession with that approach isn’t transformational, it’s merely a penalty box.
The problem with that approach, is that we are 100% reliant on our own willpower. In other words, we are still our own God. Our outer behaviour is nothing but a more or less hard shell that masks the true self underneath it… warts and all. In my case I ended up first making life miserable for those around me, then crashing and burning. Nobody can be perfect from their own willpower.
The true inner transformation will not begin when we just simply start following the rules. It will come from complete trust in God’s mercy. We have to confront and accept ourselves as we are, that we are imperfect sinners, and the only way through the narrow door starts first with full trust in God’s mercy, and that He loves us just as we are.
The focus then is not on achieving day-to-day victories, nor on the big victory. It becomes on loving God and wanting to enter into a deeper relationship with him… through prayer, through lectio divina, through meditation, and through His sacraments. That trust in Him will in turn open the floodgates to His grace. We need to put in practice only one thing: the first word of the Rule of St. Benedict, “Listen with the ear of your heart” to what God is telling us. He is telling us that He wants us to have love affair with Him. He is telling us that the Word is a giant love-poem to us. He wants us to be as madly in love with Him as He is with us; so madly in love, He gave up His life to us. Just as I love my imperfect sons in spite of their goof-ups, He loves His children as imperfect as they are like the Father that He is.
When I finally gave in and stopped focusing on rules and doctrine, as my wife said “I became more of a mensch”. Am I perfect? No. Am I still a sinner? Yes big time. But I know my flaws and weaknesses, and I put them into God’s hands rather than trying to change them myself. We all have great capacity for good and evil. God’s grace is transformational. Through time we conform more and more to Christ’s image via this grace that we acquire by deepening our relationship with Him.
Via His grace only. Not through willpower. Not through following rules. All He wants really, is for us to return that love to Him. We were put here on Earth to Love God.