Life


In God and the World, his book of conversations with Cardinal Ratzinger who later became Pope, Peter Seewald asks:

Isn’t it remarkable, how in spite of our deep-rooted longing for love, we regard everything else as being more important: success, sex, status, money, power. We use almost all of our energy in learning how to reach these goals. And we devote hardly any effort at all to learning the art of loving.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger answers:

Many of the things you mentioned are short-cuts and substitutes. . . it is an essential part of man’s calling to develop his capabilities–and only thus can he fulfill his mission of loving.

Man is meant to develop and actualize the potential within him; he is meant to do something in this world. That’s because learning work skills and setting about a job in no way conflict with his basic task of loving, but give it concrete shape. I am only fulling my mission to love . . . when I become the person I am capable of being. When I am giving what I am able to give. When I open up those possibilities in creation and in the network of human relationships that help us to get through life together and together to shape the fertile capacity of the world and of life into a garden, in which we can find both security and freedom.

This basic impulse goes astray whenever this vocational education aims at no more than the acquisition of skills; whenever mastery over our environment, improving our earning capacity, and the pursuit of power become dissociated from the inner task of loving, from everyone’s being there for everyone else. Whenever power gets the better of giving. Whenever self-assertion, turning in on oneself, the collecting of things around oneself becomes more than the primary aim and, in this way, man’s capacity for loving is choked off. Man is then dominated by things and no longer knows how to value them properly.

It is important that we not see our abilities, our vocational training, as being in themselves merely secondary. Certainly, all our abilities and all the technological capacity of man should be kept in their proper place, in our minds, and ought not to become autonomous. Whenever power becomes autonomous and is the sole category of judgment for man, then it turns into slavery and is the opposite of love.

The above quote was taken from a section titled “How Do We Learn to Love?” in pages 190-191.

To find out how to develop and actualize your potential, and to become the person you are capable of being, go to Circles of Growth.

From Spiritual Direction and Meditation, by Thomas Merton
“…the real function of meditation is to enable us to realize and actualize in our own experience the fundamental truths of our faith. But there are other subjects for meditation. Our own life, our own experience, our own duties and difficulties, naturally enter into our meditations. Actually, a lot of ‘distractions’ would vanish if we realized that we are not bound at all times to ignore the practical problems of our life when we are at prayer. On the contrary, sometimes these problems actually ought to be the subject of meditation. After all, we have to meditate on our vocation, on our response to God’s will in our regard, on our charity towards other people, on our fidelity to grace. This enters into our meditations on Christ and His life; for He desires and intends to live in us. The Christ-life has, as its most important aspect for each of us, His actual presence and activity in our own lives. Meditation that ignores this truth easily tends to be aimless and confused.”

When you buy something cheap and bad, the best you’re going to feel about it is when you buy it. When you buy something expensive and good, the worst you’re going to feel about it is when you buy it.

Grandmother of Sasha Aickin, VP Engineering, Redfin–quoted by Guy Kawasaki, Enchantment, p174.

It is true you are never too old to learn anything. God has been here for thousands of years. Even though He is very old, He learns a lot of new things every day. It is like doing a school project. God’s project is us. We have to do research for a school project. He also learns new things like we learn new things when doing a school project. For instance, He learns different things we are doing that He probably didn’t know we would do before–because He is interested in our lives.

Paraphrased quote from nine-year old daughter before bedtime.

In her prize-winning book, The Incredible Journey Sheila Burnford uses the term “companionable silence” to describe the hours spent in a canoe between two brothers during their annual vacation; and the time a father and son spends walking along a forest trail.

Is companionable silence lost forever to the generation growing up with social networks and cyber-relationships? What replaces companionable silence in the online world?

Our family was part of an informal guild restricted to those whose work allowed the flexibility bread-making demands, and whose personal history affirmed what others might think a waste of time. Instead of baking bread, in fact, I could have been taking courses to further my career, learning a language, or pursuing an advanced degree. I did none of these things. I made bread. And in the quiet and contemplation it demanded–in the symbolism it carried–it was my salvation.

Donna Sinclair, The Spirituality of Bread, p39.

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