(This post is part of a series on ‘Living as a Catholic in a Secular World’)

In an effort to explain why the church teaches certain things and why a modern person would follow these teachings it is hard to know where to start and how to actually make these posts short! So here goes. The starting point:

“We would not have a gadget in our house five minutes without knowing what it was for; yet some live twenty or sixty years without knowing why they are here or where they are going. When life is meaningless, it is dull; the absence of a goal or purpose begets worries, anxieties, psychoses, and neuroses. What is the use of living unless we know the purpose of living?”—Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

1415366_heart_cross_2What is the purpose of living?

We are constantly surrounded with advice about what is “normal” – “normal” relationships, “normal” clothing, “normal” entertainment, “normal” ways to better yourself. Through the media, other people, education and what the world is telling us we are pressured to act in a certain way.

Our culture emphasises getting what you want NOW, doing what will make you feel good NOW, even at the expense of others. What effect does this have on you, your families, your communities, your country and your world?

Results of this mentality leads to divorce, sexual abuse, rape, sexually transmitted diseases, depression, eating disorders, guilt, addictions, cutting, cheating, abortion, even suicide. Why are the rates of all these things sky high around us?

Why can love seem so hard to find?

The ground work of anything behind the teachings of the Catholic Church and what the church is about is real life. Although people think it is about big heady concepts and the church just getting money and followers, it is quite simply about us. About living real life and the things we need in life. The very purpose of life. At its root of course, is God. Jesus Christ. And Love.

Love. What’s love got to do with it? Why can love seem so hard to find?

n. a decision to will the good of another person (CCC 2351)

Sometimes we confuse love with attraction, and then our attraction fades away and we think we have fallen “out of love” or turn our attractions to something or someone else. We don’t really know what love is. Its not enough just to feel attractions and look after our own feelings.

The true reality of love is that Love is an active decision, made every moment. It isn’t just about feeling good, although this is part of love. We must make every effort to do what is best for the other and to be committed to love that person totally.

So True, Everlasting Love comes from the decision to give oneself to another and do so totally.

You were made in God’s image and likeness. This means you were designed for True Love. As the Catechism says,

“ God himself is an eternal exchange of Love… and He has destined us to share in that exchange” CCC 221

Jesus said that the greatest commandment is “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-38). But you were not just called to love on earth, because ultimately we were created for union with God (here and in heaven) forever. That is the key part of our faith.

But love often gets confused. Particularly with:

n. The disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. (CCC 2351)

Lust is a sexual desire that selfishly seeks your own pleasure at the expense of others. In other words, lust is using someone for your own wants.

Lust seems to dominate our culture. You can see it on the television, hear it on the radio, it surrounds us in advertisements, in conversations with friends and in the books and magazines we read. It is often a hot topic.

Need some examples of lust?
What about these images that frequent our lives?

Or these headlines?

  • “Sexting” shatters Sydney schoolgirl
  • Men Objectify Women in Semi-Nude Images Study Reveals
  • Child Porn Charges Barred
  • Alfie, 13, not baby’s father, paper says

As we get used to this surrounding us, we start to become numb to lust and how harmful it can be for ourselves and others. We begin to settle for less than true, good and beautiful relationships.

Sometimes, we hear about Sexual Liberation, which means escaping rules to be able to do whatever you want with your sexuality. In reality this isn’t sexual freedom, its excuse to use sexuality as a form of recreation, often leading to the slavery of sexual addiction, emptiness and broken relationships (more on this later…)

But… God will never offer you a challenge without offering you every grace needed to overcome it.
If you apply the truth to your life in a practical way, your life is going to change for the better.

If the purpose of life is true, authentic LOVE then we give of ourselves and we have purpose.
This is the goal of our lives.
This is the challenge.

It is a challenge to live in a different way than it seems everyone else is.
It is a challenge to live the truth, especially when it seems that everyone else doesn’t want to believe it.
How you find your purpose and how you live it out will influence your future on earth as well as your eternity after death.

You aren’t what you have done before, or the sins and bad habits you have got into in your life. What matters is what you do NOW…
Learn how to receive the love of God, and allow that love to transform your life into something beautiful.

“For love to be real, it must empty us of self.” – Mother Teresa