Can you think of just one concept or quote from Sacred Scriptures upon which all the others rest? Put another way, what is the bulls-eye of the bull’s eye of a target, the exact center? Again, if you had to write down just one quote upon which everything rests, what would that be? Jot it down now.
That is the question, actually two questions, that I asked in my book entitled Six Threshold of Life: How to prepare to live…Forever. You may find it in the Store section of this blog.
Threshold One: What is the purpose of life? This is actually the larger of the two questions. It is, what does God say the purpose of life is, to be precise. Look up Deuteronomy 6 and Matthew 22:34. These two identical pillars of spirituality speak of loving God with your whole heart, your whole mind, your whole strength and loving your neighbor as your self. Isn’t it ironic that the pillars of both the Old and New Testaments are identical. What does that tell us?
For those wanting to follow rules, this is the one and only rule you need to follow. In the Gospel, it states that we should seek first the Kingdom of Heaven, and all else will be given us besides. Look up Matthew 6: 33. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (NRSVCE)
We get so tied up the notion that religion is all about keeping the rules. While it is true, it is also true that God desires mercy and not sacrifice. Doing and practicing the laws is greater than just being able to keep them, like a check-off or laundry list. The heart always wins out over the keeping of rules for the sake of keeping the rules.
Threshold Two: What is YOUR purpose in life? This is HOW you plan to find meaning using the purpose of life you listed in question one. I call this my center, my personal ground of my being, the reason why I am happy, that which makes my life worthwhile, the reason I can sustain myself in time of personal trauma. My personal center is only eight words long. It is also the one reading I do every day in Lectio Divina meditation and contemplation. Every day! My center is found in Philippians 2:5. Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus. It is more important than my marriage relationship. It is more important than my children’s relationship. It is the most important because in doing this, I achieve all my other goals. It is first seeking the kingdom of heaven.
But this is more than just memorizing a Scripture passage and then forgetting it. This phrase is what informs all my thoughts and aspirations. It is what I want to become. It is what I hope to be with God’s help. When I had cardiac arrest (2007), this is what keep me going. It is what I first thought about when first told that I had leukemia (2014).
As an aspiring Lay Cistercian, I use the spiritual practices and charisms of Cistercians to help me to grow even deeper into the Mystery of Faith, even in the midst of pain and suffering. Life has purpose and meaning for me because of both the purpose of life and the purpose of my life.
If you can answer these two questions correctly (there are many false answers out there), then not only fulfill what it means to be human but also what it means to be an adopted son or daughter of the Father. You can’t image how much peace you feel.