Sunday, January 29, 2017

We desire not only to know fully, but to be fully known

For those who might be wondering, I have not abandoned this blog. I am currently attending a class and living in a situation that does not permit me to write regularly. Blogging is an avocation. It is something I do in my spare time. I have found it useful, once in awhile, to let things lie fallow. Taking breaks regenerates me. Thinking about all of this today made me realize, yet again, that Καθολικός διάκονος is a labor of love.

The Buddha asserted that craving, or desire, is the source of all suffering. Hence, we should work to eliminate desire in order to eliminate suffering. These simple axioms are tempting to accept until you grasp that, in the end, for a Buddhist perspective, the goal of life (of multiple lives) is the complete and total annihilation of the self. From a Christian perspective, however, desire, which results in restlessness, a lot of dissatisfaction, and even suffering, is really what constitutes our humanity at its deepest level. We suffer because we don't understand the purpose of our existence, which is not annihilate ourselves, but to become who God created and redeemed us to be. We are made, not for annihilation, but for communion.

God is a communion of persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Church is a communion of persons, too, albeit a communion not yet fully realized, even by the blessed in heaven because they await their resurrection. While it exists in the interim, in the end there will only be the communion sanctorum- the communion of holy people and things. This is what we desire, to belong to God and to one another. I believe St. Paul addressed this in his First Letter to the Corinthians when he wrote: "At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known" (1 Cor 13:12). This was perhaps most famously captured by St. Augustine when he noted in his Confessions, writing to God: "Our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you."



Desire causes us to suffer when we place our hope in the wrong things, when we seek to satisfy our desire with what can never satisfy us: money, power, and sex are the big three. This is like trying to quench your thirst by eating sand. Even human relationships cannot satisfy your desire. No other human being, except God-made-man-for-us, Jesus Christ, can bear the weight of your need. He bore that weight when He went to the cross. He lifted that weight when He rose from the dead and when He sent the Holy Spirit. Resting in God is what His return will accomplish for those whose desires are ordered rightly, whose sufferings make them aware not of what they desire, but Who they desire. What Jesus gives us is Himself, whole and complete. We do not love Christ because of He can do for us, but only for Himself. He is all the Father had to give. This is why the Eucharist is necessary for life.

Does that mean we should not enjoy life, the good things of life? No! But in using them and enjoying them we need to keep them in proper perspective, which is what allows us to use and enjoy them prudentially. About this C.S. Lewis observed:
If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and to earnestly hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I suggest that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased (from The Weight of Glory)

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