God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. (CCC, 1)
GLADE PARK, CO (Catholic Online)--If we notice anything in today's world, it is that people are thirsting for the supreme goodness and love of the divine Other who is the source of life itself. In countless ways, people are seeking happiness, and striving to find peace, security, and fulfillment.
However, they are often pitifully unaware of how to attain the desire of their heart. This is especially evident during the season of Christmas when, influenced heavily by the frenetic quest of a consumerism gone awry, people are loading up on material gifts in an effort to experience a taste of the happiness they so crave. At the foundation of gift giving, the office parties and the celebrations, the bows and ribbons and toasts and rushing from place to place, is a deep, unquenchable thirst for happiness.
That we are driven by the search for goodness and the quest for happiness is true. But then, when the party is over and presents are unwrapped, the tree, with all its lights and glistening decorations, comes down:
"When you got what you wanted, were you happy?" asked Archbishop Fulton Sheen. "Do you remember when you were a child, how ardently you looked forward to Christmas? How happy you thought you would be, with your fill of cakes, your hands glutted with toys, and your eyes dancing with the lights on the tree! Christmas came, and after you had eaten your fill, blown out the last Christmas candle, and played till your toys no longer amused, you climbed into your bed and said, in your own little heart of hearts, that somehow or other it did not quite come up to your expectations. And have you not lived that experience over a thousand times since?"
It's easy to get trapped in that experience, living it over a thousand times, like some kind of cruel nightmare in which fulfillment is an impossible dream and disappointment seems the only reality. And one cannot seem to wake up.
But one can wake up. Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day to awake from sleep. The choice is yours. In fact, there is a Person who came precisely to fulfill you, to offer you new life and a new way of living. Jesus Christ saves, redeems, fulfills and restores and completes--these are not abstract musings but definite realities revealed by God himself. In Christ you can become a son or daughter of the Father, who lovingly grants you the gift of sharing in his divine life and glory, and who offers you the opportunity of living a blessed life forever--all of which is made possible by the Son of God who became man.
So basic and fundamental is every person's thirst for God, the Catechism of the Catholic Church opens with the following truth of the faith:
"God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life" (CCC, 1).
Do you want to be happy? As St. Teresa of Avila wrote, "Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices."
God wants to give himself to you. Think about what that means. Can you imagine the love you would feel? What does it feel like for God, who is Infinite Love, the almighty and all-powerful Creator who made the universe and all it contains by speaking it into existence, to fill you with his love? That it is not the same as human love is certain. Yes, it is a great deal beyond creaturely love.
The question is, how do you come to possess God? That is what the Catholic Church is all about, my dear friends. She is the instrument of salvation in the world who leads her children to become sons and daughters of the Father in the Son. Live the Catholic life. Fully, actively and consciously participate in the divine liturgy this Christmas and every Sunday thereafter. Live the gospel life. All of it, with its denial of self, its hate for sin, its determined holiness and thirst for the truth, its joy even in the face of life's difficulties.
Heaven on earth is a real possibility. It's not a fairytale fantasy, but a reality made possible by the Son of God who became man in order that you might come to share in God's supernatural, divine life. Open your heart to Jesus Christ, the Divine and Human Healer of humankind. Give yourself to the Child who comes in humility to make you like himself, like God, that you might participate in his own everlasting life.
Does this mean you will never suffer? No. Recall how Christ suffered. The way to life everlasting is the cross. There is no other way. But even in the face of suffering there is joy because Christ gives you the gift of his Spirit who overcomes and conquers your fear and suffering.
When God gifts you with his love, when he possesses you and you possess him, nothing can take that from you. Nothing but, of course, your own free choice.
Who will you choose this Christmas?
Deacon Fred Bartels serves the Diocese of Pueblo, Colorado, as a member of the Catholic Clergy. He is a Catholic writer who knows his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever receive. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at joyintruth.com
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