Why Did God Make You? |
The End of Man has its roots in his Creator Who gave man free will to choose to be obedient to His Natural Laws or to follow the fallen angel Lucifer and say "non serviam". In order to guide man, God provided a blueprint called religion, which is the virtue by which man can give God the due honor due Him alone as Creator, Master and Supreme Lord. It was the Son of Man Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself Who established for all time the one True Religion to attain man's spiritual goals - the Holy Catholic Church of which the "gates of hell will not prevail against it."
"Many people spend their lives in a vain pursuit of riches, honors, and pleasures. But these never satisfy the heart of man even on earth. Besides, they have to be left behind when the hour of death comes. We learn to know, love, and serve God from Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who teaches us through the Roman Catholic Church."
One of the first facts Catholics are faced with in orthodox catechesis, such as the time-honored Catechism of Trent from which the Baltimore Catechism format was taken, is "Why did God make you?" The answer of course, is one memorized by every Catholic prior to Vatican II and by Traditional Catholics today: "God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next."
The purpose of this series is to better illustrate how we can know Him, love Him and serve Him in this world in order that we can attain life everlasting. Everything else pales in comparison. In a world today so enamored with temporal things and the common good of man at the expense of serving God, we as Catholics need to realize how to truly live our Faith by applying it in all we do 24 hours a day. Lip service does no good if we simply talk the talk. No, we must walk the walk and often it is most narrow, most difficult. Yet, as Christ has assured us, "Take up My yoke upon you, an dlearn of Me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. For My yoke is sweet, and My burden light" (Matthew 11: 29-30).
In this series, we will borrow abundantly from Bishop Louis Laravoire Morrow's incomparable "My Catholic Faith", as well as "The Catholic Church Alone - The One True Church of Christ" (1902), "Cabinet of Catholic Information" (1904), and "The Glories and Triumphs of the Catholic Church" (1907). There will be other reputable, unerring works we will be referencing - all before Vatican II including Father George Leo Haydock's comprehensive Catholic commentaries from the Douay-Rheims Version of Sacred Scriptures. You'll also note that all pronouncements by Our Lord in Divine Revelation are characterized in red type to distinguish the Word made flesh. Thus, let us begin.
In creating us, God gave us the power and right to choose which path we should follow in life: either the path of obedience, or the path of disobedience to His commandments. The first seems wearisome and full of thorns, but reward comes in the end: happiness with God. The second seems full of pleasures and roses, but punishment awaits the traveler at the end: eternal damnation in hell. Each must choose for himself. We may find the choice a hard struggle. We shall be strengthened in the choice of the difficult path if we remember that we belong to God, that He loves us, that He will help us and is waiting for us at the end of the road-of obedience.
Man's high destiny is to go to God, because man comes from God, and belongs entirely to God.
Our reason tells us that Someone made us. That Someone is God. Nothing can proceed from nothing. If there had ever been a moment when nothing existed, nothing would ever have existed. Therefore, because we exist, we know Someone who made us also exists; that Someone is God. "He made us, and not we ourselves" (Psalms 99:3). "All things have been created through and unto Him" (Colossians 1:16).
Our reason also tells us that God must have made us for some purpose. God made man to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy forever with Him in the next. God made us for Himself. The end of man, as of all creation, is the glory of God; to manifest the divine perfections, to proclaim the goodness, majesty, and power of God.
"The Lord hath made all things for Himself" (Proverbs 16:4). Whether he wishes to or not, man must manifest God's perfections, dominion, and glory. Man's very existence does this; even his sins will in the end show forth God's infinite holiness and justice. Through glorifying God, man is destined to share His everlasting happiness in Heaven. Man was created chiefly for the life beyond the grave; this present one is merely a preparation for the eternal life. In this life we are exiles, wanderers, pilgrims. Heaven, the Home of God, is our true country, our true Home. There God wants to share with us His own unmeasured bliss. "For here we have no permanent city, but we seek for the City that is to come" (Hebrews 13:14).
We belong to God. Since we are His creatures, we have certain duties towards God which we must fulfill. Religion teaches us what these duties are. Religion is the virtue by which we give to God the honor and service due to Him alone as our Creator, Master, and Supreme Lord. It is by religion that we know, love, and serve God as He commands us to know, love and serve Him. It is by religion, then, that we fulfill the end for which we were made, and so save our soul. In order to practice this virtue, we must: Believe all the truths revealed by God.
In religion we learn about God and His perfections. We learn something about His great love for us. We learn what is right and what is wrong. We learn what God commands us to do. We learn about the future that He has prepared for us.
In religion we carry out in our lives what we learn about the duties we owe to God, about His commands and wishes. Mere knowledge is not religion, and will avail us nothing. The devil has knowledge, but he has no religion. Religion includes the service of God in fulfilling what we have learned of our duties towards Him. Religion is not a matter of feeling; it is a matter of will and of action through Faith.
Our Lord Jesus Christ says: "Blessed are they who hear the world of God and keep it" (Luke 11:28). The Apostle Saint James said: "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves" (James 1).
We can prove that all men are obliged to practice religion, because all men are entirely dependent on God, and must recognize that dependence by honoring Him and praying to Him. It is absolutely necessary for us to practice religion. God gives us no choice in the matter. Our chief business in life, the business which God commands us to attend to, is to go to God. And this depends on our practice of religion.
It is by religion that we fulfill the purpose for which we were created. By believing what God has revealed, we know God. By knowing God, we cannot help but love Him. By practicing what we learn and obeying God's commands, we serve Him. "He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me" (John 14:21).
Many people spend their lives in a vain pursuit of riches, honors, and pleasures. But these never satisfy the heart of man even on earth. Besides, they have to be left behind when the hour of death comes. We learn to know, love, and serve God from Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who teaches us through the Roman Catholic Church.
The study in which Jesus Christ teaches us about God and how to know, love, and serve Him, is the study of Religion. It is the most important study anyone can undertake. The neglect of this study is the root cause of crime in the world at present. Without a knowledge of God men give way to their basest passions.
Our salvation is much more important than a knowledge of physics, poetry, or history. All our science and knowledge, with our wealth and honors, will be profitless if we do not save our soul. "What does it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, but suffer the loss of his own soul?" (Matthew 16:26).
This study needs thought and attention. We need to listen to a good teacher. We cannot study it well by ourselves alone. The deacon Philip asked the Ethiopian reading Holy Scripture: "'Dost thou then understand what thou art reading?' But he said, 'Why, how can I, unless someone shows me?'" (Acts 8:31).
Those that advocate no study of religion are generally termed free-thinkers, agnostics, skeptics, and rationalists.
These thinkers claim that all problems can be solved by the use of the intellect alone, without necessity of any principle, law, dogma or authority. "Freedom of thought" has a pleasant sound, but it is against reason; by it the mind is fettered by error. We submit our minds freely to natural and scientific truths; that is true freedom. If there is no freedom of thought in mathematics, why in religion? "Freedom of thought" is evidently a contradiction; we are not free to think what is not the truth. There are fundamental laws that bind the intellect. For instance, are we free to believe that the sun revolves around the earth, even if it appears to do so?
The intelligent man, in order to attain the kind of freedom humanly possible, should find out to which authority he must submit; he must discover which is the Law. And this is why the rational man studies Religion, to find out this fundamental Law.
Next issue: The Apostles' Creed