I've been struggling lately with dealing with the deeper question of what the purpose of my life is. I know we are to love the Lord and our neighbor, but is there a will we must fulfill to accomplish these goals? Are we all expected to love in extraordinary terms and to pursue extraordinary goals for the Lord, or are we expected to live our day to day lives following the Lord in every simple thing we do? Does God have a will or "mission" for each of us to accomplish that is solely individually programmed for us? The Lord stated that he had come to set the world on fire, which seems to indicate that we wishes that we bring the kingdom of heaven to this world in a rather dramatic sense, seemingly insisting that we should go to drastic measures to bring about the kingdom, much like Mother Theresa or countless other saints have. However, many of the Lord's beatitudes can be applied simply, in very simple actions. I have always felt that God has great plans for each of us, yet I am feel clueless as to what I should be doing. Any help?
For a while I struggled with a similar question. Recently I came across an Ignatian spiritual exercise about the purpose of life, and it gave me a bit of guidance:
“Man was created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul; and the other things on the face of the earth were created for man’s sake, and in order to aid man in the pursuit of the end for which he himself was created. It follows, then, that man must make use of things insofar as they help him to attain his end; and, in the same way, he ought to withdraw himself from them insofar as they hinder him. It is necessary, therefore, that we should make ourselves indifferent to all created things, insofar as it is left to the liberty of our own free will to do so, and is not forbidden. So, for our part, we do not wish for health rather than sickness, for weath rather than poverty, for honour rather than dishonour, for a long life rather than a short one; and likewise in all other things - we desire and choose only those which best lead us to the end for which we were created.”
Personally, I don’t believe God ever leaves us or truly lets us fail. Of course, there are times where we make mistakes or do the wrong thing, but I do think they are ways of bringing us even closer to Him and to the light.
I also think God has an individual plan for each of us.
For me, the best way of fulfilling my purpose is glorifying and serving God. I realised that only recently, and now it’s something I strive to do each day. I’m yet to discover what kind of life lies in store for me, but I feel that if I can honour the Lord to the best of my ability I will be truly happy in whatever I do.
It may take you a while to discover your true purpose and direction. Pray for guidance and for strength, and trust that God will never desert or forsake you. I will keep you in my intentions. God bless.
I think the traditional Catholic answer to your question would put things in terms of "Vocation."
If a person ends up being a priest, nun or monk, then he or she DOES have a special calling to spread the Gospel in a somewhat intense, dramatic fashion.
On the other hand, if a person ends up being a lay Catholic, then he or she DOES NOT have a special calling to spread the Gospel in a somewhat intense, dramatic fashion, but instead is called to just be a basically good Catholic and work to earn a living for himself and his family and to generally promote the well being of the Church and Society in whatever extra ways he may have time for here and there.
To me, this view simplifies everything. This really was the view of virtually everyone in the Church until the last few decades. Nowadays, some people dispute this view of setting off the clergy and religious from the laity. So, perhaps I am wrong. I am just an ordinary Catholic lay person who goes to Mass every Sunday. Trust whatever the bishops and popes teach. Take everything else with a grain of salt.
Lately, I’ve been pondering the same question. When Jesus came to earth his purpose was our salvation. Everything Jesus did was directed towards that purpose. Before he left this world he commissioned us to do be disciples and make disciples. I believe that is our purpose. Now, everything I do is directed towards that purpose. I need to know the words of God, spread His words and be fishers of men.