If we pray without growing weary, and do so with an openness to whatever God has in store, we will know Him. That is, in the end, the only thing that matters. If I have Christ as my friend, a cancer diagnosis does not destroy my life, rather it becomes as beautiful opportunity to show those I know and love how to suffer joyfully. We look to Blessed Chiara Badano who, upon hearing her cancer diagnosis as an 18-year-old declared, "It's for you, Jesus; if you want it, I want it, too.”
St. Thomas Aquinas writes in his beautiful hymn Adoro Te Devote:
Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived: How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do; Truth himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.
The beautiful Hopkins translation speaks to the beautiful mystery of the mass.
This is the 1st of four lectures given to the Catholic Youth Coalition on Fundamental Theology.
This lecture was on the existence of God. Can we discard the idea of God without losing the ability to explain the world as it is? I don't think so, here are the reasons why:
1. We cannot explain the origin of the universe.
2. We cannot explain human consciousness.
3. We cannot claim there is any meaning in the world.
With those questions to guide the conversation, we will explore it all more in depth in the next three lectures.
C.S. Lewis says it’s precisely the greatest moments of our life which make it clear that nothing in this world will ever make us happy. Looking back to the image in the gospel, we calculate the cost of the building and realize it’s beyond our means, we look at the battle of 10k v 20k and realize we can’t win. What are we to do? Sue for peace? Settle for mediocrity? That’s not the Christian way.
C.S. Lewis follows his insight with another saying, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
There is a certain relish in bitterness, cynicism and a feeling of helplessness that gives us an escape from culpability for our actions- or lack of action- and wins a certain amount of sympathy from our peers. If there is one thing this attitude toward life does not accomplish (there are more than 1), it is any real meaning or happiness.
But how can it be that striking out to find my personal happiness could be the thing that makes me unhappy? Let’s figure out why our current attempt is failing, then we might look to the gospel for an answer to the predicament.
“I have come to cast a fire upon the earth, and how I wish it were already blazing!” Jesus doesn’t come to preach bland tolerance, but love, and love is an all-consuming fire. There are two fascinating and terrifying things I want to point out concerning fire: First, is its ability to annihilate everything in its wake. Second is its ability to transform what it consumes into itself. Both are at work in the gospel.
Is this gospel a threat? In a sense, yes, but not one based in fear. Jesus speaks strongly on this subject because the consequences are so great when we fail. When the gospel is not preached, young people’s lives have no meaning and it naturally follows that they will want others to feel the profound suffering and emptiness they feel, so we end up with this absurd violence.
Is Machiavelli in step with today’s scriptures? Yes and No. Ecclesiastes does, in the beginning, point to the inherent volatility of life, but it takes the problem much further and makes a much deeper and more profound claim than The Prince. For Qoheleth, the author of Ecclesiates, takes into account the possibility that someone could live as Machiavelli suggests and “labor with wisdom and knowledge and skill,” yet even that man must die.
I remember walking into the YMCA courts in BIllings when I was a kid and seeing one of the new kids fiddling around with a basketball. It was obvious he had never played the game. At best, he had maybe seen a few nba games on a bad TV, because what he was doing was not basketball. Me and a few buddies gave him the general overview of the game and played a bit with him. At first, giving him the rules just made him depressed, but he was an athletic kid so after a few months, he began to pick it up. By the following year that kid was a decent player, and continued on to love the game in all its beautiful minutiae.
That, brothers and sisters, is how we are in this life. If we don’t know the Lord, we are like a kid thrust out on a court with a ball in our hands, but no clue how to play. Our guides on how to live as a human being and raise a family are Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, and the best hope for happiness is making $1 million dollars or accruing 1 million followers. What a weak and pathetic existence, running around with no clue who we are.
Be courageous, trust that you are a member of Christ’s body, and no matter the mess in the Church, your mission as a Christian is always to preach the gospel and draw souls to Christ and his love. We find that love in the Church, we find our mission in the Church, and those outside may only hear that truth if they hear it from you.
The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few. Butte is 75% baptized Catholic, where is everyone? Let’s go out and get to work!