Earthly and Heavenly Fulfillment
Last week we meditated on the meaning of All Saints and All Souls. We pondered over how God has created humanity in his image and likeness, to become sharers in his divinity. Heaven means sharing in the divinity of God and holiness signifies sharing in that same godliness on this earth. For those souls not yet fully perfected, thanks be to God, we have the merciful teaching on Purgatory. But what about this life?
God created us in his image and likeness. Created in the image of God, man strives to fulfill the purpose or telos for which he was created. So, holiness and even true purposefulness are synonyms for living a truly fulfilling life. Signs of sanctity are signs that a person has become who she was created to be! Jesus came that we may have life and have it in abundance!
On our pilgrim road, specific paths to holiness exist. Our spiritual ancestors have walked their earthly pilgrimage, and have carved out paths through this “valley of tears.” A roadmap exists for our journey, initiated by the Lord and written for us by those who share in glory in Heaven. These paths are called vocations, meaning callings by God. This Week is National Vocations Awareness Week (Nov 4-11). Two of these vocations are Sacraments: Holy Orders and Marriage.
Marriage is the one-flesh union between husband and wife. A man and woman who exchange lifelong vows and forge one life together, walk on the path to holiness. They form a domestic church and strive to be the first and best teachers in the Faith for their children. This is the nucleus of the parish and all of society. Our nation will go the way of the family; mark my words. Marriage is a well-worn path to live out sacrificial love.
Holy Orders (deacons, priests and bishops) are ordained to teach, sanctify and govern the Church. The heart of priestly life is sanctifying the Body (the parish) by administering the sacraments, and also instructing the faithful in doctrine. The priest strives to live a life of sacrificial love for his parish or community. I think of the parish as my bride, the one God has given me to love and cherish, the one for whom I am happy to sacrifice. You are my path to holiness.
Another key vocation is lifelong consecration (meaning: set apart for the sacred). Consecration occurs either (a) by the vows of religious life, like the Franciscans, Christian Brothers, Sisters of St. Joseph, or Poor Clares; or (b) by individual consecration while still living in the world. The Holy Spirit gifted the Church this newer form of consecrated life in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. Groups like Madonna House, Communion and Liberation, Focolare, and Cruzadas de Santa María each live out a consecration in the world. Many other groups in both categories exist and lend a wondrous spiritual cornucopia to the variety of gifts ushering forth from the Church.
Thus, as we meditate on paths to holiness (the road to a fulfilling life), I invite you to cherish the vocation God has given you. If you are still seeking out the definitive path your life will take, stay hopeful, remain prayerful and attentive to what God is trying to do with you. Lastly, please be open to the genuine possibility that God may be calling your children and grandchildren, not to marriage but to priesthood or consecrated life. Marriage is not for everyone. The Church needs that variety of gifts. Remember that God’s invitation is the path to genuine happiness. Our Good God desires an abundant life for each of his children. May OLPH flourish by responding to His invitation!
Yours in Christ,