Objective truth series — Reflection #18
Here is a brief recap of the last four reflections:
· Reflection 14 – The pursuit of truth and the love of truth as the basis for standing up for the truth, in order to fight false human respect.
· Reflection 15 – The precious blessing it is to possess the faith in these times of apostasy when so few have the faith, and having the use of reason is also something to be extremely grateful for.
· Reflection 16 – Finding delight in God bringing us a higher view of truths.
· Reflection 17 – God uses us, poor instruments that we are, to pass on the truth by standing up for the truth, and to teach the truth to others.
All of the reflections in this Objective Truth Series, especially the last four reflections, can be boiled down to what was quoted in Reflection 15, namely, the Principal and Foundation from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God, Our Lord, and by this means to save his soul. All other things on the face of the earth are created for man to help him fulfill the end for which he is created. From this it follows that man is to use these things to the extent that they will help him to attain his end. Likewise, he must rid himself of them in so far as they prevent him from attaining it [viz., his end].
As was said in the very first reflection, St. Thomas Aquinas says – First, God chooses a soul, then He loves that soul, and then He makes the soul worthy of His Love by giving grace to the soul. Thus, the saints are truly called the Elect of God and the life’s journey of the saint’s soul is God’s work. The Principal and Foundation quoted above, is the Blessed Mother’s instruction, giving souls what can be called the cornerstone of the way of salvation. In this manner the soul learns from the Principal and Foundation to have an eternal perspective of life.
What do we mean by an eternal perspective? This means that one takes the Principal and Foundation into consideration when making all his decisions. For example, he would ask himself, “Will this use of a creature, this activity etc. be something that will help me save my soul or not?” Of course, not all the saints in heaven went on an Ignatian retreat; nevertheless, they made their decisions always with the salvation of their immortal soul in mind. Hence, they had this eternal perspective in which they made their salvation the most important work of their lives. They certainly worked out their salvation “with fear and trembling,” as St. Paul admonished the Philippians to do.
For instance, St. Teresa of Avila told her nuns, “We have only one soul and one eternity.” Although she is an example of a saint who did have the influence of the good Jesuits, and her little saying shows that she made her decisions with her eternal salvation in mind, her perspective is not unlike all the other saints in heaven.
Of course, we know from our Catechism that we are supposed “to know, love, and serve God to be happy with Him in heaven.” However, we do not just automatically act upon this truth from the age of reason.
This is where God’s school of sanctity must be considered. What does He do to the soul? He spends years drawing souls to Himself and helping them sort out/discover that life is a journey, an exile, and that the soul’s true goal is heaven. Yes, one can study these things in Catechism, but unfortunately these truths do not really sink in, until the Lord causes these truths to penetrate deeply into one’s soul. The soul seems to discover for the first time that the intimate friendship with the Divine Spouse Jesus Christ is the only true goal of life.
This is a time of true conversion of heart, when Our Lord gives the soul an eternal perspective. When the soul has finally latched onto the eternal perspective, the soul is much more focused on working for God. In this conversion the soul now finally understands that nothing else is important but the salvation of the soul. The world’s “fog” now seems to lift and the soul now sees the real purpose for existence in the most serious light in which it should be taken.
But God does not stop there, for now the serious part, so to speak, of the soul’s journey, has begun. God patiently works on the soul and the soul continues to sort the distractions of this life from the supernatural realities for which man was created. With a clearer perspective, the soul now understands better how God intends that man wears himself out in the service of God. The soul, too, learns more and more how crucial it is to be detached from things of the world. This process of learning to care more and more about God continues and God draws the soul closer to Him. All of God’s adopted children are supposed to become spiritually married to Christ, the Bridegroom of the soul. Therefore, it is perfectly normal in the spiritual life that the soul would become less attached to the world and more intimately attached to God.
Once a soul has an eternal perspective, the soul looks at everything in a whole different way. The soul can see that the things of this world are so empty and shallow. The cares of the world are dealt with in a more objective way. Yes, one certainly has to deal with the concerns of his duty of state; however, these concerns are handled with one’s eternal salvation always in mind. The soul does not want to displease God in any way—seeing that we are either on the side of Christ or on the side of Satan. As Christ said, “He that is not with Me, is against Me: and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.” St. Matt. 12:30. And further, “But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the Day of Judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” St. Matt. 12:36-37.
With just these words of Our Lord in mind, it is easy to see that Our Lord wants us to have an eternal perspective. Clearly, we have to discern carefully what is involved in our decisions and consider well how we must do all things to please God. Our thoughts, words, and deeds must be weighed on the scale of eternity! Nothing in life is truly neutral and all things must work toward God and His Glory. As Catholics we cannot become callous and think that our actions do not have eternal consequences. Keeping an eternal perspective makes all choices simpler and therefore easier.
Another wonderful consequence of an eternal perspective is that placing all things in God’s Hands becomes more habitual. How good God is to teach and train a soul to have an eternal perspective! One stands only in awe at such Paternal care for our poor souls and perhaps something like the following would flow forth:
praise, to revere, and to serve Him,
Oh, this sounds so scary and grim,
Our souls were created for this,
‘Tis the only view, that brings bliss.
Why an eternal perspective?
And must we be so selective?
The Lord wants us never forget,
That we belong to Him and yet,
He knows we’re so fragile and weak
And that worldly things we do seek
He ‘minds us to think of our end,
And not to make the world our friend.
‘Tis so easy to lose our course,
And to forget that, God’s our source,
Of life, of being, our one true goal,
The only way to save one’s soul.
For every choice one must make,
We must work only for His sake.
To act for Him, ne’er Him oppose,
If we want, eternal repose.
At times a choice, seems so small,
But made badly, could costs it all,
Best to weigh things, on this wise scale,
Than forever the choice bewail,
We pray Mary, our special guide,
That with her Son, we may abide,
And live not like fools, for this world,
And not into hell’s depths be hurled.
Having perspective eternal,
Keeps the soul, from the infernal,
Wonderful outlook, for one’s life,
The soul becomes the Bridegroom’s wife.
For such an outlook, we must pray,
To stick to our goal on life’s way,
And when this view does sink in deep,
With tears of thanks we shall e’re weep.