Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Papal Intentions for September 2016

Papal Intentions for September 2016

Universal Intention: That each may contribute to the common good and to the building of a society that places the human person at the center.
Mission Intention: That by participating in the Sacraments and meditating on Scripture, Christians may become more aware of their mission to evangelize.

Prayer for the Pope

V. Let us pray for Francis, our Pope.
R. May the Lord preserve him, give him life, 
and make him blessed upon the earth, 
and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies.

Our Father... Hail Mary...

O God, Shepherd and Ruler of all Thy faithful people, look mercifully upon Thy servant Francis, whom Thou hast chosen as shepherd to preside over Thy Church. Grant him, we beseech Thee, that by his word and example, he may edify those over whom he hath charge, so that together with the flock committed to him, may he attain everlasting life. Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Foundation of the Christian Life - Homily for August 28

A few years ago a trilogy of books was put out and movies subsequently made about them titled Divergent. It was set as a future of America, more or less, where society had kind of crumbled and they were living a completely type of different state than what we would be used to. Rather than individuals being part of a complex social system, society was divided up into five specific groups. There were individuals who kind of represented five essential characteristics or virtues of the human person. But it was a taken to an extreme, and each of those individual groups were called to live out that extreme to the highest. There were the Dauntless who embodied the virtue of courage to an extreme of craziness, such that it was almost a rule for them to have tattoos and wild hair and had to jump off of trains as their mode of common transportation - it was kind of bizarre. There the Erudite whose entire life was consumed with knowledge and education. There were other groups as well, and then there was one group called the Abnegation. They were the extreme embodiment of selflessness or humility. They were required to wear drab gray clothing, rather than bright colors that might indicate something special. They were required to have a certain hairstyle, not to have fancy things, nice things or many things, but rather to be abundantly simple. You were unable to express your gifts and to use the good things that were part of your own natural life because you were Abnegation. You had to necessarily quench and reject all of those things. Whenever you were in the presence of members of the four other branches of the society, the Abnegations were always the ones who had to had to step back and defer to the other groups. 

I mention that because this weekend we hear the words of scripture inviting us to reflect upon humility, and often time when we hear "humility" we think the "abnegation" - we have to have the drab gray clothing, a sense of unable to be .......*TRAIN!!!*....... Anywho, when we think about humility, we often think of that extreme version. "O yea ... you know ... I'm not really good at that. I don't really have that gift." It's this false humility that basically is a lie. When St. Benedict - the founder of Western monasticism of the great Benedictine monasteries - was writing his rule on the monks and their gifts, he said it would be a shame, even more a sin against God if a monk who had a good voice intentionally neglected it because he didn't want it to stick out. It would be a sin for one to reject their gifts that were rightfully given to them by God. And unfortunately that's what we can think humility is - a rejection of the gift that is something that could lift us up, that could exalt us. 

St. Thomas Aquinas said to recognize truth and to live truth was humility; to be humble was to recognize that every single one of us was created in the image and likeness of God - that we are created for heavenly life. But at the same time, on account of our sins, we deserve hell. But on the other hand, Christ has saved us and redeemed us. And by the gift of Baptism we are heirs to the kingdom of God, but we have to work and labor for it. So it's recognizing the truth that I am a sinner who is called to be a saint. 

St. Theresa of Avila, when she was in her own convent with the Carmelites, she was struggling with how to live out humility herself as a religious sisters. One day she asked the Lord point blank in prayer, "Lord, what is humility?" and the Lord Jesus responded to her, "Knowing what you can do and knowing what I can do." Knowing what you can do - and the limits thereof - and knowing what I can do and the fact that there are no limits to it. That's humility. It's knowing that in our weakness, we have many great gifts that come from God, but they rely upon Him. Everything is reliant upon the Lord Jesus. That's humility - not this false humility that rejects all of the goodness in us, but a recognition of the good and where it comes from.

Humility is very important in the Christian life. It's not one of the virtues that's taken among all the virtues. It's the most important virtue of all. Today is the feast day of St. Augustine of Hippo, a great doctor of the Church. He was a man who lived a life of revelry, of partying, of debauchery. But he was converted. He became a great priest and bishop of the Church, one of the most profound bishops. He was a writer that was absolutely incredible at his writings. Sixteen hundred years later and we still haven't translated them all into English, so prolific was he. A profound writer. And as he was reflecting on the spiritual life, he came to the understanding in his prayer and said that if we don't have humility, every other virtue that we appear to have is a lie. Because every other virtue I appear to have, if I don't have humility, ultimately is just about me. It could look really good on the outside - it could look positively saintly on the outside - but without humility, it's really about me. 

That's humility - the call to us to be humble before the Lord. It's the foundation of the Christian life. It's our everything because it's the first place that Christ comes to redeem us. In the Fall, their first sin was a sin of pride, the sin of exalting themselves, and it's the Lord who came and humbled the Lord. But in response, the Lord Jesus comes to undo that same sin, and what is the remedy? Humility and obedience to the Father. He comes, empties himself and takes on our flesh, and saves us. Without humility, we are lost, and only with humility are we saved. So we must have it, but how do we get it? How do we grow in this virtue that's the foundation of everything that we do and are as Christians. 

St. Benedict has this nice little 12 step approach where you can climb the ladder of humility. I have a hard time remembering three points quite often, so I don't expect you to remember twelve points, so if you want to find them out, you can find it HERE. I'd like to bring what he says and that part of the rule, as well as other writings, and it's emphasized in three main points. 

The first point is to pray for humility. To pray for humility is immediately to recognize that I can't do it myself. If I'm pretty sure I can make myself humble by my own will and my own choosing, I am at the height of pride. It's only the Lord who gives us the grace to be humble; it's only He who allows us that virtue to be alive in our hearts. So the Lord Jesus comes and He gives us the graces as we ask them. Pray for humility, seek it out, ask for the gift - to seek, to ask, to knock - and to know that it will be given to us. If you want a specific prayer, I encourage you in praying the Litany of Humility (found HERE), a wonderful prayer composed by a cardinal about a hundred years ago. The Litany of Humility is a profound prayer; it strikes at the root and it hurts a little bit whenever you pray it. The first time I prayed it, I felt pretty rough afterward like "Lord, we got some work to do!" The priest who first introduced me to it said that when he was given the Litany of Humility, he read through it and was so afraid to pray it that he gave it to a religious sister and asked her to pray it on his behalf. He became a good and holy priest, so apparently her prayers were effective. But it's first and foremost to pray for humility. 

The second thing is to allow humility to come forth in our speech, to allow our conversation to be marked by humility. Archbishop Fulton Sheen was remarking that in a particular chapter of one of the letters of St. Paul the words "I," "me," and "my," were a litany, where it seemed like every fourth word, something to the effect of over 30 times in a single chapter. He said these words over and over again, and at the end of the chapter he paused to reflect upon the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ and how that was His glory. Archbishop Sheen said it's interesting to note the next chapter of the letter doesn't mention "I," "me," or "my" once. How often in our conversation it can turn to "I," the focus upon myself. But as we turn to the Lord and allow Him to increase humility within us, as we allow Him to convert our hearts, it becomes more about the other than about myself. And that's what the Lord calls us to - to be conscience of our words and to focus on asking the other things - to focus on you rather than I. Simply that practice trains our mind, thoughts and speech to focus on the other, but not just in those types of things but even in the midst of conversation how easy it is for our conversations to be for a purpose of us gaining something for me, and not always in a positive sense. To gain knowledge, wisdom or spiritual insight is good, but to gossip for the gain of power and authority over someone else, because you know what they did or didn't do, is not good. So to gain for ourselves in a wicked sense, an evil sense, is not of God. So the Lord too invites us there too to seek humility, to humble ourselves and focus on others that they might be exalted.

The last thing is to do things that humble us. The Lord Jesus says explicitly in scripture to go take take the lowest seat so that whenever the host comes they can say to take the higher seat, rather than to take the higher seat and have the host come and say "Hey, you're not number one, sorry," and have you move down. What a tragedy that is, what shame is experienced, humiliation, embarrassment. And so the Lord invites us to be humble, ourselves. And here's the catch, no matter what, the Lord will always allow us to gain graces of humility; it’s just a matter of whether we gain them by choosing to humble ourselves or Him sending humiliations our way. Personally, I'd like to have a little say in how I get humbled - maybe that's my pride - so I can choose the situations rather than to be unexpectedly publicly embarrassed. So for us to take up those actions of humility, so that we grow in it ourselves by our own choosing and desire, rather than to wait for someone else to knock us off our horse. 

The Lord calls us to humility in a great way, but He also shows us here at Mass. That's something that I think we can reflect upon much more deeply - the humility the Lord expresses here in this offering. He does each of those things: the prayer of humility, the words of humility, the actions of humility. The Lord Jesus invites us to come here; it's incredible in itself. Our first readings says that you're not coming to something that you can simply touch and experience. You're coming to the dwelling place of God. You're coming to the Holy City - Zion. You're coming to meet our Lord. By the simple fact that we are here today should bring us to our knees in humility, and indeed it does in various parts of the Mass. To be humbled to come and to speak with our God - to love Him and to be loved by Him. 

The prayers in the Mass, as I spoke about last weekend, invite us to humility. Lord have mercy ... Lord I'm not worthy ... Thanks be to God ... these sorts of things are the words that we speak that the Lord gives to us. I think one of the things most often and easily overlooked because it's so normal to us, regretfully, is the humility of the Lord Jesus in the Eucharist. St. Peter Julian Eymard, in his reflections on the Eucharist, says the fact that Jesus comes among us in the Eucharist is the highest expression of His humility. It was incredible that He came among us as flesh, but in His own flesh and blood. He could walk away, He could go away, He could do all these things whenever people came to attack Him. He could've left. But in the Eucharist, anything that happens to Him, He humbly submits. He chooses obedience to the Father, and to us. We could take the Host and toss it in the yard, throw it in the street, use it for target practice, and the Lord would not once stop us. Not once. It would be a sacrilege and very serious sin, but He wouldn’t stop us. That's the humility of Christ Jesus who loves us, who came to sacrifice Himself for us. That's the humility of Christ, and it's that humility that he invites us to - to be able to draw near to Him, to allow Him to teach us by words and by deeds, what it is to be humble, what it is to know the truth and to live it. What we can do and what God can do.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Knowing and Being Known - Homily for August 21

Heart speaks to Heart
Readings for Sunday, August 21 / 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time:
Isaiah 66:18-21 | Psalm 117 | Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13 | Luke 13:22-30

I’d like to begin by saying thank you for your prayers. Many of you have gone to serve as well as the many donations which have been received in our parish from those who are suffering from the floods. It was a great joy to be able to see the generosity and the love of our parish. It made me really proud to be your pastor. Whenever we went to Denham Springs on Friday to drop off all the donations, we had collected one twelve-foot trailer that was jam-packed, another one was probably a sixteen foot trailer that was at least half full, and other cash donations. It was interesting because we went to the shelter to drop everything off, and they were short-handed because most of their volunteers were trying to clean their own homes. They asked if we could stay to help sort some of the donations onto the tables. As soon as we were unpacking things, there were people already standing at the table waiting to pick them up. You’d put a bottle of bleach on the table, bend down to pick another one up, and the other one you just put was gone already. It was greatly needed and greatly appreciated. I know many of them there expressed their gratitude to us who were there, and through us to you. So thank you, as your pastor, but also as one who calls Denham Springs home.

The past couple of days I’ve been at my parents’ house working, and have been reminded of the many mission trips I’ve been involved in throughout my time in the seminary. We went to Guatemala and Nicaragua multiple times, as well as doing local mission trips where we can serve in our own communities - going to Vacherie at the southern end of our diocese. One year we went to a youth group mission trip in Bayou La Batre, over in Alabama; and it was that one that stuck out most to me as I was reflecting and praying with the scriptures as we were taking care of things at the house. It was an ecumenical gathering, so it wasn’t just Catholic, it was a variety of Christian churches that had come together for this mission work after one of the storms that hit them. Each night, one of the ministers would have a little time of prayer or reflection. One of the evenings they sat us all down and the minister asked us to close our eyes. He began to describe a scene where we passed from this life, where we died, and then we ‘woke up’, and before our eyes was Jesus in heaven. The minister said, “If you could ask Jesus one question, what would it be?” and he then opened up the floor for people to respond. The profound thoughts and reflections from the hearts of 13, 14, 15-year-olds was edifying to me at that time and still today.

But it was that question of “If you could ask one thing what would it be?” - in a sense that’s what we get in the Gospel today. The Lord Jesus is going from town to town on His way to Jerusalem. As you maybe remember from a few weeks ago, Jesus sets His eyes on Jerusalem. He’s resolved to go there. He’s not coming back. As He’s going from place to place, there are many times where people will see Him for the first and the last time. I think one of those people is the one who cries out the question today. As Jesus passes by, he has that burning thing in his heart - the one thing that he wants to know from the Lord - “Lord, will only a few be saved?” “What are my odds Jesus, am I going to make it, or will only a few saved?” It’s an important question because salvation is everything. If we have it, we have eternal joy; if we don’t we have eternal sorrow and suffering. It’s an important question. What side of the line am I on Jesus? Can I make it?

It’s interesting that Jesus doesn’t give a numerical response. He doesn’t say, “O yeah, probably just a hand full.”  He doesn’t say, “No. Many people will make it. All will make it. Nobody will make it.” He doesn’t say any physical number or general idea, and that’s important for us. Because if Jesus says that “Yeah everybody is in,” we don’t really worry about showing our love for the Lord and others in this life. Our natural inclination is to take the easiest pathway possible, right? So, if the Lord says most people will make it, then it’s easy to presume “Yea, I’m generally a good person. I’ll probably make it. I’ll be in the number of the most.” If the Lord says only a few people will make it, then we begin to question whether I can make it or whether I should even try. No matter what the Lord would’ve said, the question would have have arisen in our hearts  “Should I try?” either because I’m already in or I don’t have a shot.

The Lord gives the proper response: It doesn’t matter how many get in; that’s not the point. Strive to enter the narrow gate. Strive. The Greek word is something to the effect of “agonize” - give everything you can to enter through the narrow gate. Give your best effort. That’s what the Lord calls us to - to give our best effort - to enter through the narrow gate. He says that some won’t be strong enough, some won’t know the way, they won’t know Me. Then He gives that agonizing story of the ones who come, and they are standing outside saying, “Jesus, open the door for us. We are here. We’re ready to come to the feast, Lord.” He says, “I don’t know where you’re from.” “Lord you ate and drank, you taught in our streets.” “I don’t know where you’re from. Depart from me you evildoers.”

Many hours I’ve spent praying with those passages. Put yourself in that situation. Spend some time reflecting on that response. If that’s not a motivation … Every time I pray with that scripture and place myself in that place where the Lord was speaking that to me, I get this really sick feeling in my stomach. I immediately realize that I need to strive a little more I need to try a little harder for myself. And so the Lord invites, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate.”

“I don’t know where you are from” would be a hard thing to hear. So how do we fix that? How do we make it so that the Lord knows where we are from. Obviously, He’s God - He knows. He knows the number of hairs on our head, or maybe the lack thereof sometimes. He knows everything about us. He knows all the things in our heart - even if we don’t know it. You think He wouldn’t know where we are from? Certainly He does. But He needs even more than that. He wants to know us - to know us personally. And the way we do that is prayer. We have to pray, to be a people of prayer - profound prayer; not surface level prayer, but prayer that actually speaks to Christ and is able to listen. To have that time where we hear the word of God and we respond to it - a conversation with Him. We can offer up the rosary and allow our meditation to become an encounter with Christ Jesus. Other spontaneous prayers, chaplets and these sorts of things, can be beautiful ways to encounter the living God. But one of the ways that I think is most important for us is the Mass.

Today is the feast of Pope St. Pius X. He was a pope in the early 20th century, and he was part of the early days of the liturgical renewal in the Church and one of the things he desired for us as a Church was to pray the Mass. One of his famous quotes was, “Don’t pray at the Holy Mass. Pray the Holy Mass.” Again, don’t pray at Holy Mass. Don’t just come in here, and father does his thing, we say the words, but I’m kind of doing my thing over there, just kind of doing my own personal deal. No, he says pray the Holy Mass - pray the words, pray the actions. Let the things that we say and the things that we do be things that are not just on that exterior, but they are manifestations of the reality of what our heart is actually speaking to Christ. And that’s hard. It’s hard because we are easily distracted and easily caught up in the routine of things.

Being a priest, I’ve celebrated Mass every single day, sometimes multiple times a day. It’s easy - impressively easy - to become like a robot and go through the words, go through the actions. Just this week at one of the daily Masses, I remember concluding the Eucharistic Prayer and we started the Our Father - I presume - and I woke up, I ‘clicked in’ two pages later as I was offering people the sign of peace. I had to ask someone after Mass, “Did I actually pray the prayers or did I skip over them?” “No, Father, you prayed them.”

How easy it is to happen like that, that we can allow our minds to kick into autopilot, allow our lips say what needs to be said as our mind goes ten thousand other places. That’s not what we are supposed to do. It is to enter into the mystery and pray the Mass, to reflect on the words we say and to mean them: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy... Glory to God in the highest … Thanks be to God …Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ … Lord hear our prayer … Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts …. Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us … Lord I’m not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed … Amen … Thanks be to God …. These things that you say and that I say every Mass - if we really prayed them, they have a way of changing our hearts. If we allow the bodily postures that we do to form our spirit, it can change us. It teaches us to pray. It allows us to know the Lord, but even more importantly, to be known by Him.

As we come here, it would be easy to come and simply say the words, do the things, to show up at Mass every Sunday, to do all the right stuff, to check off our lists of Catholic obligations, is to come and say to the Lord, “Lord, you ate and drank among us, and you taught in our streets.” The Lord says, “But you never spoke to me. Yes I was there, but you never spoke to me. You were at the other table. You weren’t listening or responding. You were somewhere else. You should’ve been with me, listening to me, speaking with me.” And that’s what He desires for us. Prayer - heart speaking to heart. To allow our heart to speak to Christ, and not just with the words of the Mass, but to allow even the other things of our heart to speak. And the other silent moments of prayer, to allow our heart to pour out to the Lord Jesus and to really speak to Him, to talk to Him, because He is here. He’s passing by right now in this Mass right before our eyes, into our very flesh. There are many things we want to ask Him, many things we want to say, but it’s to make sure to say them, and to make sure that we mean them.

The Lord Jesus calls us to Himself.  He wants to know us, He longs to know us. I think we want to know Him as well. I invite you, as we enter into the continuation of this Mass, to respond to the Lord, to let the words really mean something, let our actions really mean something for us. I’m not preaching to you; I’m preaching to me today because I need it, because so often I forget it. How easy it is, again, to go through the motions, but to forget the Lord behind it all. Let us come together today in this Mass and to offer ourselves in love, to love and be loved, to know the Lord Jesus, and to be known by Him. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Everything is Meaningless! Praying with the 'vanity of vanities'

Readings for Sunday, July 31/ 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time:
Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23
Psalm 90
Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11
Luke 12:13-21

This week the Holy Father has been in Poland for the celebration of World Youth Day. 2 Million youth and young adults from around the world have gathered for Mass, prayer, catechesis, and to share in the joy of being a universal Church. What intrigued me in watching the various celebrations was the face of Pope Francis. In the majority of the encounters with people he was his usual jovial self - smiles illuminating his eyes and the joy of the Gospel written on his face. When he went to the concentration camp at Auschwitz it was different though. His face as he walked around the grounds and prayed at the various sites was one of a solemn and somber nature. You could see in his face and body posture the weight of a profound mystery, the great sufferings endured by so many people.

Some of the survivors of the Holocaust have written and spoken of the horrors that took place within those gates. Many recall how some of the most faithful people among them lost all faith as they endured and witnessed the suffering and death of their friends, families, neighbors, and their own selves. Many, it is said, were the ones who cried out in search of the meaning of it all – What is the point of this?! Why is this happening?! What is the meaning of it all?!

Viktor Frankl was a man who himself endured great suffering in Auschwitz. He lost most of his family there and was subjected to the inhumane conditions that claimed the lives of so many. But as he endured it all, he also reflected on it. Victor Frankl was a psychologist and he continued his labor as such even in the camp. He tells of how the Nazi guards would intentionally starve the prisoners for long periods of time and then throw a small bit of bread into the middle of the yard so they could watch the prisoners tear at each other in hopes of getting a few scraps. Many did so, seeking to feed themselves before others who were more in need. But Frankl also noticed that in the face of these attempts at dehumanization, there were many who kept their dignity and some who were able to attain a piece of bread that immediately brought it to others more in need of it than themselves. This made him think about the differences between people in the camp, particularly in how they viewed their future. He came to realize that if one had lost hope and had nothing to look forward to, they often died in the camp. On the opposite end, many who were subjected to great trials endured them on account of their desire to fulfill some hope they still clung to. Ultimately Frankl survived his time in Auschwitz and was freed, after which he wrote a book called “Man’s Search for Meaning” in which he provided an axiom that described his experience: if we have a why to live, we can endure almost any how. Or in Christian terms, if we have hope, we can carry any cross.

The readings this weekend help us to grapple with this mystery a bit too, particularly in regards to the reading from Ecclesiastes, which is rather jolting. This is the one and only time we hear from Ecclesiastes in the three-year Sunday readings, so I encourage you to go read through it yourself. What you will likely experience as you start to read through it is a sense that it is quite different than the rest of the books of the Bible. While many have historical or a more positive theological tone, Ecclesiastes is the gut-wrenching cry of an anguished heart: Vanity of vanities! Everything is vanity! The Hebrew word for ‘vanity’ is ‘hevel’ and is also translated as a waste, a breath, vapor, useless, meaningless, and the like. Qoheleth cried out in frustration as he sees that he works and labors with skill and all he works to attain will be left behind to another person who has done nothing to deserve it. He goes through an contemplates how he can have all wealth, power, honor, health, and worldly wisdom, and in the end he will die the same as someone who has none of it. What is the point of this life? he challenges the invisible God. Vanity of vanities! Like chasing after the wind. This litany of frustrations is not the end of the book, however. In response to all of these things and the vanity of being consumed with the things of the world, the writer concludes that we ought simply to enjoy the things that come our way and to follow the way of the Lord. So if you have wealth, health, wisdom, power, honor, and the like, enjoy it and use it well. But don’t make that your goal. These are not what matters to God and this is what he New Testament passages clearly remind us.

St. Paul tells the Colossians to set their eyes on the things that are above, not the things that are on earth, and the same applies to use. Do you not know, brothers and sisters, that you have died in Christ? Then think of heavenly things – the Blessed Trinity, the glory of the saints, the joy of the angels, the beauty of heaven. Set your hearts there and store up those riches. The earthly riches are nothing in comparison. The wealthy man in the Gospel who stores up great quantities to permit himself years of rest and relaxation is met with the voice of the Lord telling him he won’t even survive the night. Be rich, then, in the things that actually matter to God. And what is it that matters to God? What’s most important to God? You might rephrase it with that of another Gospel narrative: What is the greatest commandment? You know the answer. Love God, love neighbor. So what is it that matters to God? Love God, love neighbor.

St. Maximilian Kolbe was a Franciscan priest who himself endured suffering and death within the gates of Auschwitz. One of the norms at the camp was that if someone tried to escape or actually escaped, 10 or so men would be killed as a sort of penalty. The purpose was to dissuade trying to get out of the camp, using the possible death of family and friends as a deterrent. One day someone did escape and so a group of men were chosen to be killed. One of them began to weep and cry ‘My wife! My children!’ He had a ‘why’ to endure the ‘how’ of life there. Hearing this plea, Maximilian stepped forward and volunteered himself to take that man’s place. The guards, unconcerned about who was killed, agreed and Maximilian went to his death and the martyrs crown. Love God, love neighbor. The man survived and was later reunited with his family because St. Maximilian had a purpose and it ended in a heavenly union.

Viktor Frankl himself chose on many occasions to love God and love neighbor instead of caving to his own desires and giving up hope. When he could have tried to rest and care for himself, he instead spent many nights talking to the men who surrounded him in the bunks. As they would begin to despair he would simply begin asking questions to them one by one. Do you have an family left? And if they said yes, he would encourage them to think about being reunited. Do you have friends somewhere? Again, wouldn’t it be great to be reunited. Is there some place you’d love to travel to or some activity you’d love to do? What joy to be able to do so! Over and over and over again, by loving God and his neighbor Frankl gave hope to countless men in the camp and encouraged them to find meaning in the life they lived. As those men began to love God and love neighbor – whether outside or inside the camp – they grew in the health, wealth and wisdom that matters to God: love.

All of those is simply a shadow and reminder of the great love shown to humanity in the person of Jesus Christ, who loved God and neighbor even unto His death on the Cross.

So the end point is this: if you have worldly riches and blessings, enjoy them. But remember that out goal is not earthly pleasure but heavenly joy. Every human heart must face that reality at some point. Whether in the past, present, or future. Whether it is us personally or someone we know or even someone we don’t know. All of us are faced with those questions at times that make us want to cry out Vanity of Vanities! What is the meaning of all of this?! In those moments, when hope seems to be waning and despair increasing, when confusion seems to triumph over reason, remember your purpose. Remember the ‘why’ of life that can help you get through any ‘how’. Love God, love neighbor.