Through love, a man and a woman experience in a new way, thanks to each other, the greatness and beauty of life and of what is real. The answer to the question on the meaning of the experience of love then passes through the purification and healing of the will, required in loving the other. We must cultivate, encourage, and also correct ourselves, so that this good can truly be loved. And the mystery that it represents will become more and more defined: in fact, not even the beloved is capable of satisfying the desire that dwells in the human heart.
Therefore, the human experience of love has in itself a dynamism that refers beyond the self, it is the experience of a good that leads to being drawn out and finding oneself before the mystery that encompasses the whole of existence.
One could make similar observation about other human experiences as well, such as friendship, encountering beauty, loving knowledge: every good experienced by man projects him toward the mystery that surrounds the human being; every desire that springs up in the human heart echoes a fundamental desire that is never fully satisfied.
Undoubtedly by such a deep desire, hidden, even enigmatic, one cannot arrive directly at faith. Men and women, after all, know well what does not satisfy them, but they cannot imagine or define what the happiness they long for in their hearts would be like.
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One cannot know God based on human desire alone. From this point of view he remains a mystery: man is the seeker of the Absolute, seeking with small and hesitant steps. It tells us that man is, deep down, a religious being cf.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church , n. Chevalier ; ed. Brunschvicg Eyes recognize things when they are illuminated. From this comes a desire to know the light itself, what makes the things of the world shine and with them ignites the sense of beauty. We must therefore maintain that it is possible also in this age, seemingly so blocked to the transcendent dimension, to begin a journey toward the true religious meaning of life, that shows how the gift of faith is not senseless, is not irrational.
It would be very useful, to that end, to foster a kind of pedagogy of desire, both for the journey of one who does not yet believe and for the one who has already received the gift of faith.
It should be a pedagogy that covers at least two aspects. In the first place, to discover or rediscover the taste of the authentic joy of life. Not all satisfactions have the same effect on us: some leave a positive after-taste, able to calm the soul and make us more active and generous.
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Others, however, after the initial delight, seem to disappoint the expectations that they had awakened and sometimes leave behind them a sense of bitterness, dissatisfaction or emptiness. Instilling in someone from a young age the taste for true joy, in every area of life — family, friendship, solidarity with those who suffer, self-renunciation for the sake of the other, love of knowledge, art, the beauty of nature — all this means exercising the inner taste and producing antibodies that can fight the trivialization and the dulling widespread today. Adults too need to rediscover this joy, to desire authenticity, to purify themselves of the mediocrity that might infest them.
It will then become easier to drop or reject everything that although attractive proves to be, in fact, insipid, a source of indifference and not of freedom. And this will bring out that desire for God of which we are speaking.
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A second aspect that goes hand in hand with the preceding one is never to be content with what you have achieved. It is precisely the truest joy that unleashes in us the healthy restlessness that leads us to be more demanding — to want a higher good, a deeper good — and at the same time to perceive ever more clearly that no finite thing can fill our heart. In this way we will learn to strive, unarmed, for the good that we cannot build or attain by our own power; and we will learn to not be discouraged by the difficulty or the obstacles that come from our sin. Yet both Jesus and history have taught us that money is a fickle foundation for true security.
And worse, when we make it an idol it causes us to look at it and away from Jesus.
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That is the nature of idols, they demand our attention. How much time do you spend focused on issues related to money; how to earn it, invest it, protect it, spend it and earn more of it…? For followers of Jesus, we must be tenacious and merciless when it comes to tearing down every vestige of this idol in our lives.
When He is all we need, we will always have all we want. This rule requires us to be brutally honest in identifying our idols and unrelenting in destroying them. We all love applause. It comes in many forms and it always makes us feel valued, affirmed and appreciated.
At face value it seems innocent enough, but behind it lurks a powerful enemy. Like all sin, pride comes into our lives quietly, dressed in acceptable garb so as not to draw our attention or raise concern. Then it works its way through our mind and heart like yeast through dough until our rule of life becomes shaped by our desires to hear applause from every other source than the hands of our Savior.
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As we do, we tie our identity to those sources and then wonder why we have lost a sense of who we are. For followers of Jesus we have but one triune source for our identity. We are children of God, disciples of Christ and heirs of salvation through the power of the Holy Spirit. If that is the source of our true identity, it will also be the one place we look for the applause and affirmation we seek.
This rule requires us to check our heart and identify the pride that lurks within. It then commits us to find our identity solely in Christ and to seek only the sweet applause that comes from nail-scarred hands. This may seem basic as a rule of life. After all, to whom else would we submit but God alone? We could submit to fear, submit to pride, submit to ambition, submit to despair or submit to our passions. To submit means simply to come under the power and influence of another. As a follower of Jesus submission and filling are two sides of the same coin.
By submitting we empty ourselves that we might be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. That infilling provides us with the guidance and power we need for victorious living as a child of God.
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Just like dying to sin gives birth to rising to righteousness and living in Christ, so emptying ourselves through submission gives birth to the infilling of the Spirit and living the joyful, purposeful life in Christ. This rule brings us to our knees in humble submission then lifts us up to the heights of life and service for which God created us.
It is the ultimate act of imitating Christ, who began as a child in a manger and will come again on the clouds of heaven as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Come Lord Jesus. Rodin is the president of The Steward's Journey, whose mission is to inspire and equip God's people to be free and joyful stewards of life.