“What is the Will of God for me ... for My Life?”
perennial question, wrought
from the depths of perplexity and suffering in the human soul, cannot
be answered by man. It must be answered by God.
In fact, it is answered by God.
Another way of stating the question is really this: “Why did God create
It is no mere coincidence that this is the very first question asked
in the Baltimore Catechism used by generations of Catholics throughout
America and which had a clear-cut Question and Answer format. The answers
were straight-forward, simply stated, and did not diffuse into unrelated
issues, allowing the student to focus on the answer, and yes, encouraging
them to memorize it, knowing full well that the answer to the question
will serve the student later in life when confronting some issue about
God or what Holy Mother Church teaches.
There is nothing wanting, nothing evil, and nothing untoward in memorizing
the truth. Students of geometry have done it from time immemorial, and
no one disdains either the question, “What is a triangle?”, or the answer,
“A triangle is a polygon with 3 sides, the sum of whose internal angles
equal 180 degrees.” It is simply the case. No matter how much you may
wish that it were otherwise and that a triangle had 4 sides with 5 internal
angles equal to a sum of 360 degrees … and one is certainly free to
choose to believe this … the objective nature of a triangle is quite
different. We may not like it, but it nevertheless remains so, however
much we choose to believe otherwise.
To wit, the Baltimore Catechism puts the question this way:
Question: Why did God create me?”
Answer: God created me to know
Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this life, and to be happy with
Him forever in Heaven.
Our present question, however, is less general and far more specific:
“For what purpose, for what reason, did God create me? In creating me,
what does He will for me, what was and is His will for my life — why
did He create me and what does He want me to do?”
Can we answer this question in general terms? Yes. “God created you
to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this life, and to be happy
with Him forever in Heaven. In this lies your happiness and the meaning
of your life. This why you were created (“to know Him”). This is what
you must do (“To love Him and to serve Him”). And this why you should
do this (“to be happy with Him forever in Heaven”).
Is not all of this true? Why, then, would we hesitate in stating it?
It may not please the questioner any more than a triangle having 3 sides
may not please the aspiring but misguided geometer. But it is true,
no less, and we may state it with absolute certainty. For all our hubris,
it is not ours to define the truth or to articulate it to our liking
or the liking of another. Ours is to recognize the truth, and if questioned
relative to it, to state it. In the end, we cannot give someone a round
stick to fit into a triangular hole simply because the idea pleases
him ... or us.
Can we, however, answer this question relative to particular and clearly
distinguishable circumstances? “What does God wish me to do in this
matter?” Note that the person is not asking what you think he ought
to do, but what God would have him do.
Can you answer this? Or do you think yourself presumptuous in answering
for God? You can answer this and you are not being presumptuous in answering
for God. In fact, it is what He expects of you (“to serve Him”)!
Presumably, you know the Scriptures. You know the 10 Commandments. You
know the Sermon on the Mount. You know what Jesus Christ actually said
and what He explicitly and clearly expects of us:
“So, what then is the Will of God for
my life? What is God now asking me to do?”
It is to “renounce yourself daily,
to take up your Cross, and to follow after Him.”
It is to do as He has done (“exemplum
dedit vobis” — “I give you an example”)
It is to be perfect as your Heavenly
Father is perfect”.
It is to forgive perfectly ... as
He Himself has forgiven you.
It is to be merciful, just as God
has shown you mercy.
It is to give unstintingly … just
as He has given to you.
It is to love others not simply
as you love yourself, but as Christ has loved you.
It is to make disciples of all nations
(yes, that means evangelizing ... by your words, and above
above all, by your example). Christ commanded this!
It is to lose your life for His sake.
Literally. To die to yourself, and if necessary, to die for Him, for
His Name, for His Church, and in the face of wanton persecution.
In other words, all that Christ has taught us! All that
His Holy Church teaches us! This is what God is now asking
you to do.
We have heard the WORD OF GOD HIMSELF! We know what He
said! We know what He expects of us! He has taught us, told
us, shown us by His own example — very clearly what His will is.
For any Catholic to claim, “I do not know what God’s will for me is
in this life” is a terrible, terrible indictment of the appalling failure
of the Church to teach Her own children what Christ, both by word and
example, commanded Her to teach.
We know what God would have us do, what God’s will for us is, in nearly
every venue of human life — by appealing to His word and His example.
Freedom and Obedience do not Conflict
God, wishing to endow us with every
perfection, also gives us the beautiful gift of freedom! As with our
First Parents in the Garden, we are free, free to do what we will —
God only asks that we be attentive to Him, to what He has told us, taught
us, shown us, so that we will not be deceived by the evil one and unwittingly
choose what will bring us to sorrow and death. That is why His yoke
is gentle, and His burden light. We are free to do all that brings us
happiness … but we only find happiness through obedience to God — to
Whom alone all ends are known.
But we can obey only what we know, and will only know what we are taught.
This has been the great failure of the Church for the past 50 years:
the failure to teach us what God would have us do … rather than what
is currently “correct” by the standards of the world with a thin veneer
of Christianity to anoint it. It is a systematic failure much in the
form of the triangle we invoked earlier, with the Bishop at the apex,
indifferent to his primary responsibility as “Teacher of the Faith”
and either tolerant or ignorant of whatever is taught in his diocese,
to a broadening base of administrators in collusion with deeply entrenched
and highly profitable publishers of glossy and insipid “catechisms”
and “workbooks”… that are mandatory for each student to “buy”, and which
remain largely unopened. (A mandatory new edition every year to guarantee
continued and uninterrupted sales and profits …).
The Religious Education Teachers, of course, constitute the broad base
of this triangle, many, if not most of whom, are themselves largely
clueless about Catholic Doctrine and teach what is most comfortable
to them in the classroom, even if it does not square with the Faith.
Pastors, by and large, do not visit classrooms, and never question what
is being taught within them.
Is it really any wonder that many Catholics can ask in good earnest,
“What is the will of God for me? Can you tell me, because no one ever
has? Indeed, can anyone?” That they genuinely do not know is not their
fault. They have never been taught. It is a low priority on the bishop’s,
the pastor’s, the priest’s — and yes, the parents’ — agenda. There are
more important things to be done … and after all, as long as there are
warm bodies to “teach”, the pretense of “Religious Education” will continue
as it has for 50 years, churning out proud “graduates” for their Confirmation
in a Faith never taught them and subsequently about which they know
nothing. In the end, it is why the the question itself — “What is the
will of God for my life?” — is, and is likely to remain, perennial.
Boston Catholic Journal
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