The Meaning of Life

The Meaning of Life

If we do not take the time to step back from the storms in our life and listen, we will only obscure our ability to hear God’s gentle voice speaking to our hearts.

The day will come when, after mastering the ether (the upper regions beyond the clouds), the winds, the tides and even gravity, we shall finally master the energies of love for God. And then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have made fire his servant.

–Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

With this profound observation, the Jesuit Theologian, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, summarizes the true meaning of human existence, to master the energies of love for God. At the same time, he identifies the most significant obstacle to our progress.

Looking back over the last two thousand years, following the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, man has made astounding advances in the fields of science, medicine, architecture and the arts. We have extended the average life expectancy, improved living conditions for millions (though not all) and even explored the outer reaches of space.

Unfortunately, all these achievements have not significantly improved our ability to live peacefully with one another. Indeed, at times, we even find it difficult to live peacefully with ourselves.

Modern society is characterized by the ever-increasing speed of activity, and by consequence – anxiety. We experience a continual drumbeat of information, opinion and often misleading or false information about what matters in life. Thankfully, we can still hear the echo of prophetic voices who speak the truth.

In 1983, the famous Russian novelist, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, was awarded the Templeton Prize. This award, given each year, recognizes significant contributions in the field of religion and how science can contribute to man’s relationship with God. Recipients of the Prize come from a broad range of Theological and Cultural persuasions, and each have left a significant impact on faith and religion across the world.

The opening lines of the Solzhenitsyn’s 1983 acceptance speech reflected on the troubled history of the author’s beloved homeland of Russia.

Over half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

–Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn

Later, in the same address, Solzhenitsyn did not hesitate to criticize Western society for their own shortcomings in understanding the true meaning of life.

Unnoticeably, through decades of gradual erosion, the meaning of life in the West ceased to stand for anything more lofty than the pursuit of ‘happiness’, a goal that has even been solemnly guaranteed by constitutions.

–Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn

Many in our society have literally enshrined the pursuit of happiness as one of, if not the primary objective of human existence. “We are here to be happy,” is the modern perspective, “and all of our accomplishments are intended to serve this ultimate end.” This view of life has led to tragic outcomes for many. And even more tragically, in pursuing this objective, many have left God out of the equation entirely.  

Too many souls have simply forgotten the Lord God’s words.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

–Revelation 22:13

All of our science, our exploration and the improvements to our standard of living mean nothing in and of themselves. They only have meaning when they are seen in the context of the true reason for our existence. Without this understanding, all our advances merely become a series of chaotic phenomena. If we do not take the time to step back from the storms in our life and listen, we will only obscure our ability to hear God’s gentle voice speaking to our hearts.

And he said, “Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

–1 Kings 19:11-12

In order to come to a deeper understanding of the meaning of life, we should allow the winds of change to pass by; we must endure the earthquakes that inevitably disrupt our lives; and we need to do as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin suggested above and allow the raging fires to serve us by consuming everything in our lives that is not for God.

Then, in sustained silent prayer, we will hear the still small voice echoing the words that are ultimately the answer to every prayer we utter. We will hear God say – I Love You.

If we stand firm in His presence and wait; if we listen with our heart, we will hear the Master of eternity speaking to our spirit words of Love, and then we will understand life’s meaning.

Please pray this week that we might all make time to hear these words spoken to us.

God Bless

Copyright © Deacon Mark Danis

Image credit: “Creation of Adam” (detail) | Michelangelo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Please Help Us — Our intentionally minimal fundraising is currently insufficient to cover operating expenses. Please read below:

We strive to operate on a very small budget, but we need your help. Both one-time and monthly donations are welcome. Just $10 a month will help cover the cost of operating Integrated Catholic Life for one day! Please help us bring enriching and inspiring Catholic content to readers around the world by giving today. Thank you!

Please help spread the Gospel. Share this article with family and friends on Facebook and other social media.

Print this entry