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"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Monday, January 22, 2018

THE BUSINESS OF LIFE

THE BUSINESS OF LIFE
by the Priests of the Congregation of St. Paul, 1893



What is the real business of this life? The answer to this question is found in the words of our text: "Did you not know that I must be about the things of my Father?" What is meant by the things of my Father? It means to carry out the commands of God, who is the Father. It means to do the will of God, who is the Father. 


 
Our Lord Jesus Christ, who was perfect man as well as true God, points out to us that the chief end of our existence here, and our chief and only real business in life, is to fulfil the commandments of God and carry out His will. As it was His business as man to do this in the greatest perfection, so it is our business just as much as it was His, and the more we appreciate this great truth the better it will be for us, both here and hereafter, and the happier we shall be now as well as in the other world.

To fulfil the commands of God, or do the things of the Father, is not always pleasant to human nature. It was no doubt painful to our Saviour to leave St. Joseph and His Blessed Mother in ignorance of where He was, and to make them search for Him everywhere for three long days without finding Him. But it was the will of His Father, who wished to teach us all, and for all ages, a lesson of patience and conformity, and our Lord did not hesitate; he was willing to suffer Himself, and that His Mother and St. Joseph should suffer, in order that the great good wished for by His Father should be accomplished.

He knew that His Blessed Mother and St. Joseph would derive great profit and merit out of this painful abandonment, because they would willingly accept the pain of it, and present it over and over again as an offering to their heavenly Father, who does everything right and for the best.

The example of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph should always be before us and make us accept the things of our Father in heaven, no matter how painful they may be, with resignation, and constant prayers for it if we do not feel it, and for help not to give way to murmuring and dissatisfaction because God does not treat us in some other way than He in His divine wisdom and love actually sees fit to treat us.

If we would only say constantly, and on all occasions, "What is the business of my Father? I must make it my business to do it," it would save us many an evil and many a sorrow, and fill our lives with a true joy and a constantly accumulating merit. O my brethren! what fools we are, and how short-sighted, not seeing what is perfectly plain, and what no reasonable being can think of denying.

Everything we do should be one of the things of our Father in heaven. We should consider His will about rising from sleep in the morning, not indulging too much in a sensual and idle slothfulness; and should do the same about going to rest at night, giving ourselves sufficient repose and not spending the hours of rest in dissipation and luxury. All the business of the day should be done, first and above all, as a thing of the heavenly Father, acting with honesty, with fraternal charity, and with sobriety, serving our Lord Jesus Christ, and not men or our own selfishness.

Our conversation should be something which is of God, not being in a hurry to speak of our neighbor's faults or to attribute a bad motive to him or to revile him, but in all things seeing in him the image and likeness of God. Let us remember that he as well as ourselves is an heir of immortal glory, and that Christ has loved him so much as to die for him. Bright and innocent conversation, from which all spite and malice and all badness is excluded, is a thing of the Father and a joy to men and to angels.

And all that happens--bad weather, sickness, failure to carry out our desires, want, death of friends; all come from the permission of the Father, and are handed out to us. In all these things lie concealed the most glorious opportunities of pleasing God and securing our salvation.

Let us often say to ourselves what Jesus said to His blessed Mother: "Do you not know that I must be about the things that are my Father's?" Do you not know that everything else is of no account? Do you not know that here lies the whole business of your life? Do you not know that your whole happiness lies here? Rise up, then, O my soul! and go on courageously; let no obstacle stop you; look on all things with the eye of faith, and not according to the ways of the world. Then shortly you can say with St. Paul: "I have run my course. I have kept the faith. I have fought the good fight. And now there is laid up for me the crown of glory which God will give not only to me but to all who love His coming."



VANITY OF EARTHLY THINGS


Human nature is pretty much the same in all ages of time, and I am quite sure that the Apostle, if he were living now, would repeat the same charge to us. By "this world" he means the aims, motives, and deeds which human nature will, of itself, propose and perform to secure what it looks upon as necessary or desirable for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, when not enlightened and guided by divine grace. The best that "this world" can do by its own light is to make of this life what we call an end for mankind. For if our Lord Jesus Christ had never come to this world and manifested a vastly higher and supernatural end for the human race, what other end would ever have been thought of? "Let us eat and drink," says the world, "for to-morrow we die."

You will hear on every side people who say: We live in the world, we are men of the world, and although we have faith in and know of duties towards a higher destiny, we must conform ourselves to the ways of the world or we would be left behind, unfitted to take part in the honors and riches, and learning, and other desirable things which are to be had for the striving. You see at once where these cowardly Christians barter away their birthright to heaven for a mess of pottage. They seek after all these things of the world first. They esteem them as of the first importance. If one fails in getting honors in society, or riches, or an exceptionally good education in science or art, he thinks his life is a failure. What does our Lord say to us? "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all other things will be added unto you."

Our Lord has come. He is God. He has revealed to us that He calls all men to enter and be children of His kingdom which is of God; for the kingdom of this world ends at death, and the only kingdom that will then remain is His. To fail of obtaining a right to that glorious and eternal life, liberty, and happiness is to be self-condemned to a state which the Scriptures call eternal death, chains, and misery. And, compared to the bliss of heaven, the state of hell deserves to be so called.

But you may ask: Why may we not conform ourselves to the ways of the world in so far as they are good? Just think one minute and you will see where the trouble lies. The world's estimate of its good things is all wrong. It makes them first and most important, and its estimate is false. They are of only secondary importance. When the Irish people in the hard times willingly suffered for want of food and clothing and education because to get the good things of the world they would have to put their faith behind them as less worthy, then those heroic Christians followed the advice of St. Paul and refused to conform to the world's wrong estimate of the value of its good things. They died, many of them, rather than conform.

Secondly: The world's use of its good things is wrong. It always runs to an excess which is contrary to right reason as it is to right religion. Money, and houses and lands, furniture, horses and carriages, food, drink, clothing, learning and all such things are good. But follow the maxims and practice of the world, and then judge if you, a Christian, can conform to them. What do you see? Too much money, too much land, too fine houses and furniture, too costly horses and carriages and clothing, too much eating, and too much drink. Look at it in any way you will. It is always too much. Too much for reason, and too much for religion. Therefore I say to you, as St. Paul himself would say to you in louder tones than mine: "Be not conformed to this world" this world that cannot keep within the bounds of reason and is always fighting against the wise restraints imposed by the law of Christ.

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