Why am I here?
Amidst all the recent concern about a pandemic and morose political conversation, it’s important that Catholics remain cheerful---confident of our supernatural end. This seems a good time to reprint a still timely editorial composed by our founder, Fr. Kenneth Baker, from 1994.
Why am I here?
By Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J., from The Homiletic and Pastoral Review, May, 1994.
Why am I here? Where did I come from and where am I going? At some time or other every person asks himself these questions. The Baltimore Catechism answered: “God created me to know him, to love him, to serve him in this life and to be happy with him forever in the next.” That answer is very profound and worth hours of prayerful meditation.
One dimension of the answer is that man has a supernatural end, i.e., God has destined man to be his child and companion for all eternity. The word “supernatural” means that human nature in itself does not require the Beatific Vision in order to be complete. So God could have created man, who is by nature immortal, for an immortal life of happiness which would not include the face to face vision of God. But God did more than that. Out of the great love he has for his rational creatures, in addition to creating us immortal he also freely chose to give us the Beatific Vision if we live according to his plan for us. Vatican Council I taught this doctrine infallibly and it was taught to all Catholics until the advent of the “new catechetics” which came on the scene shortly after Vatican II.
During the past twenty-five years we have not heard much about the supernatural end of man. There has been more emphasis on time and this world than there has been on eternity and heaven. It seems that many Church leaders and intellectuals have been more interested in changing this world through economics and politics than they have been in converting sinners to Christ, to tell people about heaven and to help them get there. This change in direction from God to man has often been manipulated under the good-sounding slogan of “justice and peace.” In many Catholics, it reflects a loss of faith in the supernatural mission of the Church to change hearts.
Many young Catholics have given up on the Church — and is it any wonder? To them the Church has been presented as a worldwide social agency for change—and one that is not very efficient. If that is all the Church is, they seem to say, then they can dedicate their efforts better elsewhere.
What a shame that they have not been given a higher goal to aspire to, namely, to become a saint like St. Paul or St. Teresa of Avila! They should have been told that man is called to something higher than this world. Just as Greece and Rome passed away, so also will the United States pass away, but each immortal soul remains forever — either in heaven or in hell. One of our serious tasks as priests is to announce the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ — and to announce all of it, not just what is pleasing to the ear. We must tell those who will listen to us that God loves them so much he wants them to be his friends for all eternity, but there are some conditions.
Since man is free, he must fulfill those conditions freely in order to attain the supernatural end. For, God made us without our consent but he cannot save us without our consent. The question the rich young man put to Jesus is one that we too ask, “Lord, what good must I do in order to attain eternal life?” And what did Jesus reply? He said, “Keep the commandments.” That is basic. If everyone did just that much, we would not have the social problems we have; we would not have single parent families, or murders or poverty or AIDS. It is clear to me that most of our social problems are the result of sin. The solution, however, is not more government spending and intervention; the solution lies in the personal conversion from sin of each individual. If we all avoid sin, the social problems will take care of themselves.
The goal of the Church is to get each person into heaven, not to build a better world here and now. It is also true that when men strive for holiness one of the side effects is a peaceful and just society. So when priests teach the truth about man’s supernatural end, they are also building up human society.
During this time of “lockdown,” we are receiving calls from viewers who are turning to the station for the Masses we broadcast on EWTN and 14.1, and from those who are using this “downtime” as an opportunity to grow in their faith. As you know, we have no paid staff, so our expenses are fixed. Please continue to support the station with your prayers, a financial contribution if possible, by telling others, and, if you would like to give, but are not able to at this time, to offer up that suffering for the station.
God bless you this May, the month of Mary.