God is always speaking to us. Whether it be through friends or through circumstances or through the liturgy of His Church, He speaks to us and tell us exactly what we need to hear and what He wants us to hear. This is why I have always been so impressed by the season of Lent. What is God saying to us? What does He want us to know?
To answer that question, we need to go to the prelude of Lent, Septuagesima. What does Septuagesima mean? It is a marker given to us by the Church which tells us how long there is until Easter Sunday...but what does that actually mean? What is the underlying message of this time marker? It is Christ stating His end, telling us His goal, His objective—
I will rise in 9 weeks.
His goal is to rise from the dead. It is the dead God’s resurrection that brings about salvation. Without His resurrection, there is no redemption. Without His resurrection, there is no victory over death. So what is Christ telling us?
I will rise in 9 weeks. I will rise so that through My victory, you can become what you were meant to be. But in order to rise, I must first die. And so I will not rest until I do.
Christ is telling us His goal. He is telling us what He is determined to accomplish. And then He sets His standard:
I will and I must accept only death in order to achieve what I have come here to do. I will die. And I will not rest until I do.
He has a far-reaching goal before Him. And He has in His vision a standard of excellence by which to judge His worth. Life won and life lost. Resurrection by death. And no rest until that death and life occur. This is the Man. This is the One by which we all are to be judged. Therefore this is the path that we must also follow.
But what is our goal? And what standards do we set before our eyes? This very moment, what is our end that we seek? Is it something difficult to aspire to? Something challenging by which we will have to test the limits of our soul, mind and body? Is it as ambitious as rising from the dead? If not, it should be.
Too often we live our lives with comfort as our only goal. What can I have at this very moment that will make this situation easier, more pleasant, more satisfying? We live in a constant state of pleasing ourselves. It might not necessarily be something sinful, but it is always something that brings us even just the smallest ounce of comfort in order to make our lives easier. Maybe we just want to fit in with the world? With the fashion? With the language? With the music? With the movies and shows? It could be anything. But what is your goal? Is it something along these lines? Answer truthfully. Don’t dodge the question; don’t stammer and stutter. Don’t try to justify what you want you want to do on a daily basis. Simply ask yourself and be true: What is your goal and what is your standard?
You’re wrong, writer. I do have a good goal. I want to get to Heaven. I want to be in Heaven for all eternity. See, told you. I’m right where I should be.
This is why we fail. Because our end is Heaven. But our end should not be Heaven. When our end is Heaven then our mind is simply focused on reaching that goal regardless of how we get there. And that is not catholic, because that is not what The Man would do. Our goal is something much more difficult, something much more grand. Our goal should be to wake up everyday and spend ourselves becoming what we were born to be. All of us were given from the moment of our conception a vast space of potential and capacity. God grafted to our beings the ability to reach and fulfill what he set within our hearts to aspire to and to achieve. And it is that space that we must seek to fill everyday.
We must wake up hungry for the chance to reach beyond the comfort zone that has so often locked us within its chains preventing us from doing anything brave or out of the ordinary. We must live our everyday looking to do what we thought was impossible because our weak and selfish hearts told us so. We should endlessly be looking for the challenge to spend ourselves working and toiling and fighting for the God that has given us the challenge of our potential and who now looks to see if we can live up to His expectations for us.
No, my end is not to reach Heaven. Too many reach Heaven just by being in the state of grace and nothing more. Therefore Heaven will not be my focus or my end. My end is to simply push myself to the limit. To go where, the day before, I dared not go because of weakness or self love. I wish to be hard on myself and cruel to my weaknesses. I want with all my heart to become what God made me to be the day that His hand forged my being into existence and set my heart upon His mighty path. Don’t speak to me of Heaven. Speak to me of struggle. Speak to me of the challenge. The struggle to do my God proud and the challenge to show Him that it is Him alone that I live for. Maybe I will go to Heaven, maybe I won’t. My only focus and my singular obsession, is to push myself everyday to the very limits of my mind, soul and body to show God what I can do for Him when my heart is on fire and my mind is unchained.
I have one single dream. A dream that lights up my mind on so many a night. I find myself lifted from this earth, from this field of trial and war. And as I break through the dark and trembling clouds, I see a Man who stands like a God. He does not speak. He simply lets loose a light so strong that it nearly blinds me. And in the light I see myself. I am no different in this vision than I am in my own body and this puzzles me.
“Why?”, I ask this God-Man before me. “Why am I no different than the man in the light?”
He does not smile. He does not speak. His voice simply resonates within my head saying,
“Look into the light. This is the man that I made you to be. Most men do not become the men that I create them to be. Each soul that comes before me is shown the man, woman or child that I envisioned them to be from the moment I breathed life into them. They see what they could have been. Yes, some enter My land still. But as they walk into the kingdom I have prepared for them, they understand one thing: that they could have been so much greater, so much brighter and so much more like I had envisioned them. But you. You have fought everyday. You have pushed yourself past every limit. You never rested but always looked to be more and to do more for Me.
You have followed My path. Welcome, my brother. You are the man I created you to be. And now I shall give you peace.”
What is my goal? And what is my standard?
One day I will rise and so I will die. But until then, I will not rest. For there is no rest when greatness is able to be achieved. There is no rest, my brothers, my sisters.
There is no rest.
Not now. Not yet.