Monday, September 26, 2011
"Top Ten Reasons to Live"?
A form in the Diocesan Chronicle has as its title "Top Ten...Reasons to Live". This strikes me as odd to begin with. Is this for a suicide prevention task force? No...it's for a youth conference. Go figure.
Okay, so that's not REALLY what it's about. The form asks us to list the “top ten things our youth should know to live a happy and fulfilling life”. The organizers of the youth conference want to share our lists with the youth, and have the Youth Council "discern the TOP TEN to be shared with the youth” at their conference.
The first thing that struck me was that it is taken for granted that it is important to live a “happy and fulfilling life”. That’s pretty much the by-word in our world today, isn't it? Happy. Fulfilling. Until the next happily fulfilling thing comes along.
I’m a convert, and so I was not raised with the Baltimore Catechism, but I know that one of the first questions asked in that little book is “Why did God make you?” The answer: “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.”
I notice that it does not say that God created us to be happy in THIS world. It says we are to know, love, and serve Him, and be happy in the NEXT world.
I taught religion at a Catholic high school while I was in my RCIA year. I remember a student making the statement (in response to what, I do not recall) that one should “always follow one’s heart”. Looking at me expectantly, the student then asked, “Right, Dr. Boyd?” Without even thinking, I answered, “Oh no. Don’t follow your heart. Your heart will lie to you at every opportunity.” Jeremiah 17:9-10 says, “More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? I, the Lord, alone probe the mind and test the heart, to reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds.”
Don’t trust your heart. Trust in the Lord (with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding). Trust the precepts of the Church.
It strikes me that the “top ten” things our youth should know are the Ten Commandments. That’s the beginning of knowing, loving, and serving Him. And that’s what we are called to do, whether or not it makes us feel “happy” or “fulfilled”.
Maybe I’ll send in the form, listing the ten commandments. Perhaps I’m just too pessimistic, but I don’t expect it will even find its way onto the table at the Youth Council.