Finding Purpose... in 2 steps.


Finding Purpose and Meaning in Life

The following excerpts are taken from Fulton Sheen’s talk: The Philosophy of Life.

Breaking the anxiety of life

“Some years ago there was an Indian who went into Tibet. He went in to do a little evangelizing and he took with him a Tibetan guide. In the course of the trip they got very cold crossing the foothills of the Himalayas and they sat down, exhausted, almost frozen. And this Indian, whose name was Singh, said, “I think I hear a man moaning down there in the abyss.” And the Tibetan said, “Well, you are almost dead yourself; you can’t help him.” And Singh said, “Yes, I will help him.” So he went down, dragged the man out from the abyss the best he could and carried him to the nearby village and came back completely revived, revived by that act of charity. And when he came back, he found his friend, who refused to aid the neighbor, frozen to death.”

Step 1: Help your neighbor

“First, go out and help your neighbor. Those who suffer from an anxiety of life do so because they live only for themselves. Their mind, their heart, each has been dammed up and all of the scum of the river of life makes of the heart and mind a kind of a garbage heap. And the easiest way out of this is to love people whom you see. If we do not love those whom we see, how can we love God, whom we do not see? Visit the sick. Be kind to the poor. Help the healing of lepers. Find your neighbor, and the neighbor is someone in need. Once you do this, you begin to break out of the shell. You discover that your neighbor is not hell, as Sartre said, that your neighbor is part of yourself and is a creature of God.”

STEP 2: Be open

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“The second way is leave yourself open to experiences and encounters with the Divine, which will come to you from without. I say leave yourself open. Your eye does not have light, your ear has no sound or harmony. The food of your stomach comes from without. Your mind has been taught. Your radio pulls in unseen waves from the outside. Therefore, allow this hole in your head, this hole in your heart, to receive certain impulses that come from without that will perfect you, no matter how far away you be, and what I’m talking about, they will still come.”

-FJS

Listen to his talk HERE (25 mins).


SUPER-READS

Life is Worth Living
By Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
Man's Search for Meaning
By Viktor E. Frankl

A 5 minute meditation on: REBUILDING

... be the palace
— an

THINK…

  • If I were a house.  What kind of house would I be?  

  • How much work do I put into - home improvement?  

  • Is my house good or good enough?

  • Are my improvements mostly cosmetic?

  • God wants to build a new palace in its place.  How do I feel about that?

  • Do I think God wants me to be unique, or the same?  

  • Do I think God wants to change me into something I don’t want to be?  

  • Who can do a better job at rebuilding: me or infinite wisdom?

  • Do I believe that there are super natural forces that can help change me (grace)?  

  • What is one wall that I put up, that has to go?  

  • What is something about myself I’m attached to that I know I have to let go?  

  • Whose best interests do I think the God has in mind: mine or his? 

  • Would I trust the God of the universe with my house?  

  • What does this mean: give myself to God?

  • Is my foundation built on rock or sand?  

  • Do I make the world around me lighter or darker? 

  • Do I believe God is 2 inches from me at this instant waiting for me?  

  • Do I believe that God’s spirit can, and is willing, to live, in me?

  • God is the divine gentleman, and is not going to do anything without our permission.  

 

The Grumpy Farmer and the Cheerful Farmer


A Simple Secret

One secret to a sweet and happy life, is learning to live by the day.  It is the long stretches that tire us.  We think of life as a hole, running on for us.  We can not carry this load until we are three score ten.  We can not fight this battle continuously for a half a century.  But really, there are no long stretches.  Life does not come at us all at one time; it comes only a day at a time.  Even tomorrow is never ours until it becomes today, and we have nothing whatever to do with it but to pass to it a fair and good inheritance in today’s work well done, and today’s life well lived.  

It is a blessed secret this, living by the day.  Any one can carry his burden, however heavy, till nightfall.  Any one can do her work, however hard, for one day.  Anyone can live sweetly, patiently, lovingly, purely, until the sun goes down.  And this is all life ever means to us - just one little day.  “Do the days duty, fight the days temptations, and do not weaken or distract yourself by looking forward to things you can not see, and can not understand”.  God gives us night, to shut down our little days.  We can not see beyond.  Short horizons make life easier, and give us one of the blessed secrets of brave holy living.

-Fr. Lasance, My Prayer Book, p.51.  

Do God and Science contradict one another?


God and… or… Vs… Science

For some reason, we have the idea that it has to be either God - OR - science, as if one contradicts the other, as if one disproves the other, as if they are two opposing forces at battle. But if there is a God (and I believe there is) and God is Truth (and God would have to be, or else He wouldn’t be much of a God), then Truth could never contradict science, and if anything, science should lead us to God, never away.

The Fine-Tuned Universe

No matter where you stand, the idea of the “fine-tuned universe” is utterly fascinating, but don’t take my word for it, look it up:

Here is a much better, much more thorough video on fine-tuning (Youtube) HERE

To remain objective, here is another video from a modern leading physicist (YouTube) HERE

The greatest resource online about God and science from a methodical scientific stand point can found here - Magis Center

Objections to the fine-tuned Universe:

Isn’t it arrogant to think that the entire, vast, massive universe is made just for Us?

If you don’t believe in God, then, we are all just meat and electricity on some rock in the middle of nowhere, and arrogance really has nothing to do with it.

But if you do believe in God, then look at it this way: Wouldn’t any loving parent give the entire universe (and more) for their beloved child? Wouldn’t you?

Isn’t it a waste? All that space and time, just for us?

See Obj. one above.

Second, God is beyond, outside and above space and time, so no matter how big or small, long or short the universe is - is irrelevant to God. To God, the universe can be as tiny and simple as one single atom, and all of time, from start to finish, and everything in between, God sees at once.

What about other planets? more life out there?

Absolutely, there could very well be. And I would bet every dollar I have, and the shirt off my back, that if there were - intelligent life - out there, they would also have some notion of the one God.

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If you break down any particle in the entire universe, eventually you come to laws and math. Are laws and math the activity of mind… or accident?

Quotes from the scientific community on God and Science

“Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing and delicately balanced to provide exactly the conditions required to support life. In the absence of an absurdly-improbable accident, the observations of modern science seem to suggest an underlying, one might say, supernatural plan.”

-Arno Penzias (Nobel prize in physics)

"I find it quite improbable that such order came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle. God to me is a mystery but is the explanation for the miracle of existence, why there is something instead of nothing.”

-Alan Sandage (winner of the Crawford prize in astronomy)

"When I began my career as a cosmologist some twenty years ago, I was a convinced atheist. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that one day I would be writing a book purporting to show that the central claims of Judeo-Christian theology are in fact true, that these claims are straightforward deductions of the laws of physics as we now understand them. I have been forced into these conclusions by the inexorable logic of my own special branch of physics.”

-Frank Tipler (Professor of Mathematical Physics):

"I find it as difficult to understand a scientist who does not acknowledge the presence of a superior rationality behind the existence of the universe as it is to comprehend a theologian who would deny the advances of science.”

- Wernher von Braun (Pioneer rocket engineer)

On DNA…

“As regards the origin of life, our uniform experience is that it takes an intelligent agent to generate information, codes, messages. As a result, it is reasonable to infer there was an intelligent cause of the original DNA code. DNA and written language both exhibit the property of specified complexity. Since we know an intelligent cause produces written language, it is legitimate to posit an intelligent cause as the source of DNA.”

- Charles B. Thaxton, Ph.D.

“...The capacity of DNA to store information vastly exceeds that of any other known system: it is so efficient that all the information needed to specify an organism as complex as man weighs less than a few thousand millionths of a gram. The information necessary to specify the design of all the species of organisms which have ever existed on the planet…could be held in a teaspoon and there would still be room left for all the information in every book ever written…”

- Dr. Michael Denton (Australian microbiologist)
 

“The DNA molecule is literally encoding information into alphabetic or digital form. And that’s a hugely significant discovery, because what we know from experience is that information always comes from an intelligence, whether we’re talking about hieroglyphic inscription or a paragraph in a book or a headline in a newspaper. If we trace information back to its source, we always come to a mind, not a material process. So the discovery that DNA codes information in a digital form points decisively back to a prior intelligence.”

- Stephen Meyer (director of Science and Culture, Discovery Institute).

Quotes from the Catholic Church on Evolution, Big Bang

"The Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experiences in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter—for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God.” 

-Pope Pius XII Humani Generis 1950

“Today, almost half a century after publication of the encyclical, new knowledge has led to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis.  It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge.  The convergence, neither sought nor fabricated, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favor of the theory.”

-St. John Paul II, 1996

"... there are so many scientific proofs in favor of evolution which appears to be a reality... which enriches our knowledge of life ... But on the other, the doctrine of evolution does not answer every query.

-Pope Benedict XVI, 2007

“The Big Bang theory, which is proposed today as the origin of the world, does not contradict the intervention of a divine creator, but depends on it. Evolution in nature does not conflict with the notion of creation because evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.”

-Pope Francis, 2014


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Why is sin bad?

While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
— Luke 15:20

SIN REFLECTION 1.

  1. TRUE / FALSE: Relationship is the glue to Marriage. Family. Friendship. Community. Country. Religion.

  2. If/when relationship breaks down, what are we left with?

    (…)

  3. What is the foundation of relationship?

    a. Love (this is what I mean by love)

    b. Something else.

    c. Science.

  4. What is the foundation of my love of [the other]?

    a. Because I’m a really nice person.

    b. Because they’re a really nice person.

    c. To get something I need or I want out of it.

    d. Because of the invaluable dignity of every person (this is what I mean by dignity)

    e. some other thing

  5. The foundation of the invaluable dignity of every person is?

    a. The fact that we are all made of, and from, the same stuff (physical and spiritual).

    b. The fact that we all know and experience the same stuff (suffering - - - - joy).

    c. The fact that we all have knowing, loving, and good-ness, in us.

    d. that fact that we all are like the divine, in some way.

    e. all of the above.

  6. TRUE / FALSE: Relationship, which is the glue, is based on love, which is based on the invaluable dignity of every human person, which is based on our human/divine heritage.

So why is sin Bad?

SIN degrades, diminishes, disregards, cheapens, patronizes, ignores, and/or just-could-care-less about the dignity of the other, and ourselves.

And in doing so, sin destroys love and puts self above the other and above God.

And therefore, sin destroys relationship: with ourselves, with each other, with God.

That’s why it’s bad.

BONUS QUESTION: What is the anti-dote for sin?


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Is religion just a something for the weak?

It is no longer about my strength, only His.
— Ab

Marx: religion as, “the opiate for the masses”.

Even though today we have taken this phrase out of its original context, with perception being what it is, the question remains, is religion (Christianity) an opiate for the masses?  

Opiates are an artificial means to a high used to ease or escape some current affliction for temporary relief.  So the question is…   

Is Christianity artificial?  

Many would argue, YES, ironically, Marx would not.  In fact, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Karl Marx was not an atheist, but rather, against God.  However, the argument that Christianity is a “fake” is a difficult one to make given today’s scholarship.  We may disagree on who Jesus is, but to say He was completely invented is an argument that no longer holds its ground. (Watch the video: I don’t believe in God because I think it was all made up.)

Is religion a “high”? 

For some, Yes.  Religion is another “feel good pill”, or something I do to make me feel “better”.  While God does and will provide consolation, it’s not about this.  And if we get hooked on those consolations, then Marx is right. If we are in it merely to “feel good”, we may need to re-examine our motives just as if we would if we were in a marriage merely to “feel good”.  There is so much more. God doesn't want us to get hooked on his “good feelings”, he wants us to get hooked on Him, as any passionate lover would.

Is religion an escape?

Religion is about as far away from an escape as San Diego is from say… Pluto.  In fact, a relationship with God is the anti-escape. It’s more like a giant 1000x magnifying mirror that reveals even the most hidden blemishes and blackheads of our soul. Only when we see them for what they really are, can we remove them once and for all, and God will provide the tools (and this doesn’t always feel good).  

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Do you really think she did it just for a high or to escape?

Is religion temporary?  

For many of us… unfortunately, it is.  We are temporary creatures.  Hot/cold, in/out, short attention spans, bored easily and disenchanted easily-er.  In the grand scheme of things, our lives in this place are temporary.  Our culture, our world, the universe and everything in it… is temporary.  God is the only constant.  

Freud: religion as, wishful thinking.

Freud theorized that it was our early, collective psychology of - neediness - that projected the “illusion” of an idyllic, benevolent, loving father, to comfort us from the harsh realities of life, protect us from our violence, and forgive us of our guilt.

And he was probably right… about countless ancient beliefs and their deities.  But this is not Jesus. Jesus was a living, breathing, historical, figure who walked the earth at a specific time, in a specific place, was recorded, believed in, and followed to this very day.  Jesus is no psychological projection just as Abraham Lincoln is no projection.

However, isn’t it interesting that Freud, the father of psychology, identified our deepest psychological need of being loved, of being comforted, of being protected and being forgiven.

The Real Illusion

Maybe it is not God that our psychology projects, but rather the image of strength that is the illusion. We are unceasingly bombarded by these images… aren’t these the artificial, the escapes, the opiates of the masses? And maybe it’s when we can shed this image, like throwing down a heavy armor, and are - ok in our weakness - that God can finally get through to the flesh, un-impeded. And once he is in, he brings his strength with Him. And then we are strong. And it is in this sense, that God is for the weak.


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What is love?

What is Love?

There are many types of love, the love of a friend, the love between family members, the love of a mother and her child, the love between spouses, but this can seem confusing, is there one-type-of-love that we can use across all these?

Love’s only focus - the other

The hard question we all must ask ourselves is, do I love [so-and-so] for my own sake, or for theirs. Love’s only focus is - what is good for - the other.  And love’s only aim is - how can I give myself for that good; even if in giving something for their good, I have to give up something for my good.

Love is NOT:

An emotion. Love is not sappy, sentimental, warm and fuzzies; or hot and steamy, romance, pleasure and stimulation; or thunderbolts and electricity, or some kind of invisible force (those these may all be side effects of love).  Love is certainly not something I do to get someone to love me back, or even just to like me, to make the loneliness go away, or to feel better about myself.  Love is something we do, for the GOOD of the other.

Is love just, giving “the other” what they want?

If your child desires something that is harmful to themselves, to you, or to anyone else, is it loving to give it to them? Or is it just feebleness.  Love wishes and/or gives only what is good for the other. The hard part is knowing the difference between that which only seems good, and that which actually is good.  And Loving someone certainly DOES NOT MEAN, we stay in a situation that is harmful.

Love your enemies…. or, love the people you don’t like. 

I once heard a Catholic priest say that the litmus test for all Christians is, love your enemy.  This is the hard part. We don’t have many enemies these days, but there may be someone we don’t like, we disagree with, who annoys us, who disgusts us, who we don’t respect, or who we just don’t care about.  Can we love them? This doesn’t mean we need to meet for coffee and be best friends, it simply means, at the very least, genuinely wishing them the best in our hearts.

How do we know what love is? 

Because Love itself pierced the time and space barrier, broke into our world, and took on flesh and blood, skin and bones, hair and teeth, in the form of a human person, Jesus Christ.  You may or may not believe this, but the only way to really know, is to look into it for ourselves.  

One thing that cannot be denied, he gave his entire life, until his very last breath, his very last drop of blood (literally) for “the other”.  To those who were humiliating, beating, spitting, mocking Him as they slowly tortured His life away, he says, “forgive them, they know not what they do”.    


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Is Christianity just another myth, fairytale or legend?

Christianity was made up for power, control and money.  

When asked, why do you think Christianity was made up? The most common answer given is: for power, control and money.  But this cannot be the answer simply because, It’s impossible. Historically, the church wasn’t in any position to have any sort of power or control (if that was what it sought) until, at the very earliest, the mid 5th century. That’s four hundred years (or more) after the death of Christ.  That’s like saying that the United States was conceived for the purposes of something that will not occur until another two hundred years, or more, from now. 

Without a doubt, there were times throughout history where those in the church did abuse her power, (and unfortunately still do) for control and money.  And It is wrong. It’s also no secret, these are all well documented, and the church admits to them all.  But to say that Christianity itself was invented for this purpose… is not only impossible, but disregards history.  

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Do you think he was following a fairytale


So where did it come from?

In order to see why something was founded, a good place to start is its founder and the founding principles.  So if Christianity was founded for power, control or money, we should see indications of that in the founder and his precepts:

Turn the other cheek  

Love your enemy

Love everyone else as you love yourself

Forgive infinitely

Blessed are the meek, the peacemakers  

If you want to be the first, be last, the servant of all 

Work for treasures in heaven, not on Earth

Beware of the deceitfulness of riches

Sell what you have and give to the poor

If you have two of something, give one to the poor.  

Feed the hungry

Give drink to the thirsty 

Clothe the naked 

Shelter to the homeless

Visit the sick 

Visit the imprisoned

Are these the precepts of power, control and money?

We may say, yes, well Jesus and the early church had it right, but the “institution” ruined it many years later.  Then at least we can agree that it wasn’t all made up, and lets save that next debate for another time.

In peace.  

What's the best thing we could want?

Do you believe in heaven, the afterlife, eternal life?

Why not?  What is that is holds us back.  If we say science: science is not an adequate answer because the afterlife does not fall in the realm of physical science, but of the spiritual. If we say there is no proof, well we are not going to find scientific proof, but if you dig into the spiritual, there is plenty of unexplained evidence found in mystics and saints throughout the past 2 millennial.

What if its real?  How ever we answer the question will change our lives.

Imagine you are dying… 

You know you are dying.  The moment has arrived.  But at the very instant when death comes, you remain conscious.  You are still thinking, you are still knowing, still existing.  The pain, fear and suffering are all washed away in a flood of freedom, clarity, fullness. It’s as if your consciousness just broke free from its shackles and expanded from the little world inside your own head, to the size of the universe.  It seems you can experience everything, as if everything is part of you. But more so, you sense right away you are not alone, that you will never be alone again; you sense an incomprehensible love that knows everything about you.  Though you have no eyes to see or ears to hear, you perceive others around you, as if you are part of them, and they are part of you.  You know them, you recognize them, and you know they know you, and there is no hindrance of any kind in between you, only that perfect love.  You discover right away, that everything is one.  If only I knew this before, you think. And even an eternity, would not be enough to scratch the surface of that loving - Oneness (God).  It’s a completely new way, a different way, of living… and it’s just the beginning. 

Near Death Experiences, (NRE’s) 

You may think it’s all nonsense, wishful thinking, there’s no proof, and once you’re dead, you’re dead.  While we can’t “prove” the afterlife, there may be some clues.  Given our advancements in medicine, med-tech, and our ability to resuscitate those who have suffered clinical death, more and more people have reported near death experiences, or NRE’s.  Now, because of the vast number of NRE’s (in the millions), countless peer reviewed, scientific studies have been conducted and found striking consistencies among them all.    

Are NRE’s real? If so, what can they tell us about God, afterlife, and the soul? A vast resource that evaluates only the scientific research can be found at: Magis Center, NDE’s

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