“God freely created us so that we might know, love, and serve him in this life and be happy with him forever. God's purpose in creating us is to draw forth from us a response of love and service here on earth, so that we may attain our goal of everlasting happiness with him in heaven.
All the things in this world are gifts of God, created for us, to be the means by which we can come to know him better, love him more surely, and serve him more faithfully.
As a result, we ought to appreciate and use these gifts of God insofar as they help us toward our goal of loving service and union with God. But insofar as any created things hinder our progress toward our goal, we ought to let them go.” ― St. Ignatius of Loyola
“God always has some end in view in all that He does. Surely, then, in creating man, the noblest work of His hands, He must have had a very special and in view. The Catechism tells us what that end is, namely, God Himself. First He made us to know Him. Although we have never seen God, we can. and do, know a great deal about Him: (1) from the Old Testament, in which He revealed much about Himself to the patriarchs and prophets, to Abraham, Moses, Isaias and the rest; (2) from the New Testament, in which through His Son, Jesus Christ, He has made known much more about Himself and about our destiny. Secondly, to love God. Even in this world we naturally love what we know to be beautiful and good. Therefore, the more we know about God and His infinite beauty and goodness, the more we are led to love Him. Lastly, to serve God. We prove our love for God by serving Him, by doing His will. He Himself has said, “If you love me. keep my commandments” (John 14:15). We all long to be happy, but we can never be completely happy in this life. But if we do our best to know all we can about God, to love Him and serve Him, we shall have in the next life a completely happy life with God for ever. He has promised this, so we cannot doubt it. So you understand now why God made you, why you are here: not to make a great name for yourself, not to get rich, not to enjoy yourself as you like, but simply to serve the God who made you. You are one of His creatures; you depend on Him entirely for everything. As your Creator, God has rights over you, and the greatest of these rights is that you should know, love and serve Him.” – The Catechism Explained, by Canon Cafferata (1922)
We know God by meditation and by studying what He has revealed in Sacred Scripture and Apostolic Tradition, as handed down and taught to us by His Church.
We serve God by doing His will in all things. His will is that we "do good"; there are no neutral acts. All of the resources that God has put at our disposal are there to assist us in knowing, loving and serving Him. When you use them for some any other purpose, you misuse what belongs to God.
PARADIGM SHIFT: Most people think they are living a very good life if they refrain from certain sins, pray daily, go to church on Sunday; and do some good deeds here and there. It is expected that most of your time will be spent just living. You provide for the needs of your family, and the rest of the time you do whatever you feel like.
Most church-going people proclaim themselves to be “servants of God” and "children of God", but in reality, they are only serving God 5% of the time and Self 95% of the time. They make their normal day to day decisions based on “what do I WANT to do”, instead of “what SHOULD I do?” You often hear “It’s not a sin to____” or “Your don’t have to____”, as a reason to do or not do something". But this is not acting in the service of God. Let’s make a comparison: A man is hired to do carpentry work. He is given the tools to use, and told what work to do. He is also given the rules of the place – what not to do. What if the man keeps all the rules, does no harm, but is only actually working 5% of the time? He gets fired.
Now, this does NOT mean we are not to do anything for enjoyment. In order to work well, we just have rest for our minds, bodies and hearts. Good, clean activities that we enjoy provide this rest. It lightens our burdens. There are two keys to deciding if this thing we enjoy is God's will for us or not:
- Is the pleasure it gives innocent in itself, or does it flow from some sin - vanity, impurity, revenge etc.
- Is it needed? Or, do you just want to do it. This is often about "how much" and "how often:.
It is not hard to discern whether or not we need some rest, recreation and pleasure, or mortification and self-denial. How do you feel afterwards? Do you feel lifted, invigorated, encouraged, and ready to move forward with greater zeal? Are you closer to God? Or, do you feel let down, miserable about returning to duties, with a distaste for prayer and the things of God? This is how St. Ignatius Loyola taught that we discern the "spirit of God" from the "spirit of the devil".
Let's look at food as an example. Food is given to us principally to sustain our bodies, but also serves to give us pleasure. A feast, a special meal on Christmas with loved ones bring greater joy to the day. This is good. However, when the food is taken to excess, it becomes harmful and offensive to God. How often people pray "Bless us O Lord, and these Thy gifts which we are about to receive...." and then proceed to use those gifts to harm themselves! Think about it.
Many people think they can cut God a short deal. Literally. Others think they can find “loopholes” to get around His plan. "Salvation by Faith Alone" is the biggest one - you don't have to do anything but "believe". But Catholics do it as well. Some think they think they can shave their "service" of God down to just avoiding mortal sin, and a few token prayers and devotions. Others do more and consider themselves to be "devout", but still live selfish lives, full of habitual venial sin they may or may not deny. Plenary indulgences are get talked about like they’re Black Friday bargains… and other good deals too, like the one about getting out of purgatory on the first Saturday after death in exchange for certain prayers and devotions. Reality is, they probably won’t even see purgatory, because they are LUKEWARM.
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold, nor hot. I would thou wert cold, or hot. But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, not hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest: I am rich, and made wealthy, and have need of nothing: and knowest not, that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. – Apocalypse 3:15-17
Our lives are precious. What will yours produce? What will you leave behind? Take time to think deeply about it, and write a Mission Statement for your life.
Our minutes are precious resources given to us by God for purpose. What will you do with those given to you today?
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Cor. 10:31