From Their Biography

What do all successful CEOs, athletes, authors, scientists, inventors, or anybody who made it have in common? What do Steve jobs, Michael Jordan, Dante Aleghieri, Louis Pasteur, Leonardo Da Vinci have in common? We often forget that they were not born famous, wealthy, and successful. We forget they were once unknown and unimportant. We tend to forget about their hard work, the setbacks they encountered, and the determination they showed before they got to stand on the pinnacle of the world’s cathedral. It can help us if we remember that they failed just as you and I have and will. They knew setbacks, dark nights, the bottom, and bitterness. The difference is whenever they fell, they dust themselves off and try again. They learned from their failure and moved on to the next challenge.

What makes them stand out? Why are their names on everyone’s lips today? The answer lies in their ability to remain focus on the goal. FOCUS is what they share in common. It is ingrained in their personality and honed in their DNA. They persevered despite thick and thin. And at the end, they win the prize. Perhaps, their advice can help us on our own journey (whatever that journey is).

Take Jerry Seinfeld for instance. The first time he went on stage, he was booed, ridiculed, and humiliated. What did he do? He went back to that same theater next time with renewed confidence and better prepared. He stayed at it. He kept the fight, and he won the war. It is inevitable that we lose some battles. But it is contingent on us to win the war. We learn from the losses and use them to win the war. Life is a battleship; those who survive are heroes. As someone once said, “the rule of life is tough, but once you reach the top, the view is pretty amazing”. So what does Seinfeld learn from his failure? “Keep your head up in failure and your head down in success.” Courage and focus make him one of the most beloved comedians on television. Failure then is part of the game. As Janet Fitch eloquently says it: “The phoenix must burn to emerge.”

Another inspiring figure is the British author J.K. Rowling, whose brilliant writings we have grown admiring through the Harry Potter movies. She knows what it means to give herself to the one thing that matters. Once she discovered the one, it grabs her whole being. Once she found the pearl, she sublimates all her energy to it. This is how she expressed her attitude at a commencement speech at Harvard university: ”… I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.”

Know this: those who don’t fail are those who don’t try. Failure can be the wings upon which you reach success. Don’t be afraid to ride on it. Many seem to thrive on it. It motivates them to keep on improving. Michael Jordan has an outstanding take on failure. The best basketball player in NBA history, the legend, the champion has lost many games, missed many shots, but he used them to win five championships and a handful of MVPs. As he puts it: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” He failed and that motivates him to improve.

churchill2-300x224What to say of the most successful person in human history, Jesus Christ, the son of Mary and Joseph? He asked the father to take away the cup from him. 3 times he fell on his way to Calvary; he endured 480 strokes, nailed to a cross, beaten beyond recognition, and humiliated to death. He persevered to the very last breath. The result is astonishing and magnificent, astonishingly magnificent, and magnificently astonishing; “I have made all things new”; the whole human race is redeemed. Creation is restored. Greatest success than this there is none. By the power of Christ crucified, we can do all things. No mountains are too steep for us. so in our efforts to be a a more virtuous person, a holier Christian, a better teacher, parent, child etc. We will know setbacks and many dark moments, but we can use them for our benefits. Focus. “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Heb. 12:2). Pray for the grace to stay focus. There will be noise around you; there will be distractions; there will be threats. Just keep your eyes on the goal. Focus on the one thing you know you can do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire.

The Master Key

That you know wisdom and instruction, Understand words of insight, Receive instruction in wise dealing, righteousness, justice, and equity; That prudence may be given to the simple, Knowledge and discretion to the youth (Proverbs 1:2-4)

I have come to realize that the key that opens the door to success is discipline and commitment. I have discovered that no one can succeed in a praiseworthy manner without discipline.aaa

I believe I am here to do the small things I am doing with discipline and commitment. That’s what will make it extraordinary. That’s a breakthrough for me in the sense it never dawned on me that discipline and commitment occupied such an important seat at the parliament of the heart. Discipline and commitment are the one necessary power needed to conquer, convince, and lead. A new day is dawned today. This is nothing I did not know before, but I never saw as the master key that opens all doors. The goal is to become, in the words of Matthew Kelly, the best version of ourselves. But that will require us make a choice i.e. to be disciplined and committed. Aristotle agrees with that when he said that we are to strive for excellence- arête— the act of living up to one’s full potential. That’s what later philosopher urged us to cultivate, virtue— “A good habit of the mind, by which we live righteously, of which no one can make bad use, which God works in us….” (ST I-II, Q. 55, art 4).

Little-maximus-myers-Jesus-carrying-crossThat’s what St. Paul, probably after encountering Greek philosophy, asserts:” whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” (Phil. 4:8). If we are to always tell the truth, do the noble thing, be pure and lovely, we will have to cultivate discipline and commitment.

It takes a lot to be disciplined all the time. Find what you want to accomplish and commit to it. Practice makes perfect. Practice allows us to master an art until it become second nature to us.child

Think about it, all the historical figures given as an exemplar of life have employed discipline in their lives in order to accomplish extraordinary things. They made a choice—I am sure it has taken them time and grind to find the right one— and they commit to it and work at it with every fiber of their being. They give their whole life to it. Their name is written in the history book because they practice discipline. They listen well. They look for help and were committed to something. They believe in something to the point they would die for it. They had a dream. They make it a reality.

Take Itzhak Perlman for example, one of the gods of music, and Jewish composer who won 15 Grammy and 4 Emmy awards for his works. He is said to be a genius performer. How many hours did he practice per day before he was known? 9 hours. Before he became known was reduced to 4 hours of violin practice in the morning and 5 in the afternoon.

One day, he put an extraordinary performance at a concert in Vienna; afterward people came to greet and congratulate him. One member of the audience who was wowed by his performance said to him: “I would give my entire life to be as great as you are”. Perlman responds: “I have”. He has given up everything to follow this one dream. Today, he is on top of the world. How did he get to be so great? He found what he likes, committed to it, and stuck to it with discipline and commitment wholeheartedly.

Those Olympians we admire watching, do you think they get to be so good overnight or without commitment and discipline? Do you think they practiced only when they felt like it? Do you think they ever take the minimalist attitude i.e. “what is the least I can do to be an Olympic champion?” Was it easy for them to wake up every morning, eat the right food, and go to bed at a certain time regularly? When they go out there, did their body always cooperate? Yet, they keep the faith. They fight the fight. They pushed themselves to the maximum of the ability. They invest their heart, mind, and soul to achieve what they believe in. A few years later, they amaze us with their skills and their arts. They are now famous. They won the prize.Perseverance pays off. The reward is delicious.

Discipline and commitment are the mother of all other arts. On the heights besides the way, in the roads that lead to success they browse; beside the gate that leads to the top, they stand. At the entrance of our house, they beg to be given a place of refuge. In their bosom insight is found and strength resides. Look for their instruction and knowledge instead of wealth and goods. By them, kings reign and issue judgments. They who pursue them find enduring wealth and prosperity. Their fruits are better than gold. So in choosing discipline and commitment, we get everything else. Choose wisely!

Letter to a Christian Nation

Unless the blood of the martyrs watered the garden of the Church, her plants could not bear good fruit. The faith of the martyrs is the cistern that irrigates the garden that feeds Christians. Their blood is the pillar upon which the Church is built. When I read St. Ignatius’ letter to the Romans, this understanding seems to have been how early Christians perceived themselves in relation to the young Church. They wholeheartedly believed that persecution presents an opportunity for Christianity to show her greatness. The Church was able to develop and transform the Roman society only because the early Christians lived radically the gospel. Unless the church of today is willing to jettison her privilege and power to follow Christ radically, governments will continue to violate her rights until she is completely suppressed. So, what we have seen lately is only the beginning. It is also a call to live the gospel sporadically, and to make a choice for or against Christ.

Ignatius_of_Antioch_2As St. Ignatius was approaching Rome on his way to martyrdom, he begs the Roman Christians to not try to interfere with his death because this was the only way to get to God (chapter 1, line 2). He understood that only by a tragic death— martyrdom— will the Church be recognized as the foundation of truth, something authentic, and source of salvation. Only when the Roman leaders start seeing that people are not afraid to death will they give credit to the faith.

They could not decipher the mystery of the truth of the Church unless blood is shed, something radical. She would be ‘a meaningless voice’ (1, 2) crying in the desert of the Roman Empire if no one were willing to be offered as an immolated lamb for her. It was that understanding that spurred St. Ignatius to step forward to defend this salvific truth with his own blood. While he was like an offered lamb, while there was an altar at hand (2, 2), the whole Christian community in Rome was like a choir singing the praise of Christ in the ears of the Roman authorities. Their voices echo to the furthest corners of the Roman Empire, and the authorities start paying attention to the Church, which will eventually become the official religion of the whole empire.

aaAre we comfortable with the way governments treat today as Christians? If we are, then nothing needs to be done. If we are not, then we need to start living the gospel drastically. That may mean not buying products from companies that oppose our Christians values. That may require that we don’t follow some inhuman laws although we may have to go to jail for that. We don’t even know if they accidentally make laws that contradict our Christian values, or if they merely think we are irrelevant. If the former, they should be able to easily correct it; if the latter, we must wake up. They test us and we don’t react strongly enough, and so they just keep hurting us. How far will they go? How much are we willing to accept? It is getting late Christians.

The Christians of Rome cooperate because they did not want to be the barricade that blocks St. Ignatius’ blood from watering the garden of the Church. They saw in his courageous act an opportunity for Christianity to assimilate herself with her suffering Lord. They rightly understood that he was “imitating the passion of his God” (6, 3). That imitation was not like monkey imitation. It satiates thirsting souls; it brings hope to the despairing, repose to those who know no peace; it delivers those who were held captive from the bondage of sins, and it leads to perfect joy– the joy of being counted worthy to be treated as our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. He knew what St. Francis eloquently says years later, “It is in dying that we are born to eternal life”. Thus, he says, “do not stand in my coming to life” (6, 3).aaa-Tertullian-church-Meetville-Quotes-239492

What do we learn from this letter? When the Church is in trouble, it is because her cistern is empty. When the church is challenged or under persecution, or seemingly becomes irrelevant, it is a call to live the gospel of Christ radically. She needs men and women to step forward to selflessly give themselves as the fertilizer that helps the flower of the Church to bourgeon without counting the cost. The willingness to die for the faith is a sine qua non condition for the Church to remain herself in the midst of this pervert and crooked generation.

The Early Crossroad

Life is a like a Y-shaped road constantly asking us to choose the right path. We constantly find ourselves at a crossroads. No sooner do we make one choice are we asked to make another. Everything in life is a choice. Making choices require wisdom and thoughtfulness. full_confusion-corner

The choices that we make have consequences, reveal our character, and affect our lives profoundly. Have you observed that some of the most important decisions we make in life—decisions that impact our whole existence— are imposed on us in the early state of life? here, I would like to address you, teenagers as they refer to you. You represent new directions for humanity and open us up to the future. In your eyes are hidden the key that opens the door to a bright future. In your hearts is the love that all of us are so desperately needed. So this is an important time of your life. So, it needs to be shaped well.

bieberConcept image of a lost and confused signpost against a blue cloudy sky.The teenage years are a fragile period in life, yet more probably happens during this period than all the other periods. The moment we attain the age of adolescence, we have to choose a college, a major; that means leaving the bosom of our parents for the first time. It is an exciting time, but it is also full of unknown. The key to independence from parents is wide open. Peer influence and acceptance become very important at the same time. Also, the bodily hormones don’t help the cause either (you know what I mean). More importantly, it is also the time when the church asks them to make a commitment to the faith through the sacrament of confirmation. Thus, indubitably, the teenage years are the hardest stage of our development. To quote a good friend of mine: “it is hard to be a teenager”.

teensAt that stage of life, life’s most crucial questions such as what should I do with my life? What should I do to be successful, loved, and happy? What’s the meaning of all this? These questions become the most vivid. They demand that answers are articulated, and yet no answers make sense yet. So while it is necessary to let them to figure things out on their own, but not without guidance. Not bossy guidance, but good people they can trust. They are bombarded with all kinds of temptations, so they flirt with failure on a daily basis.

mentorFirst, get a mentor. Have an older person who can advise you, and you can look up to. This is the best gift you can give yourself. Let’s face it. You have to do a lot, but you don’t know a lot. You probably have a lot of potential, but you have no experience. So if you are to make fruitful choices, you must have a guide. That mentor can be a parent, a friend, an aunt/uncle, your pastor, or a teacher. Get someone! Get someone who inspires you to be the best version of yourself, and someone who will challenge you if need be. Be honest with him/her.

read-515531_640Second, befriend books. As the adage goes, “those who read lead”. Make it your goal to read something daily. Magazine, newspapers, online stuff don’t count as part of your daily reading. Reading allows your thinking and verbal skills to develop. Your young mind is open to endless possibility. Be careful what you feed it with. A young age is the time to increase your vocabulary repertoire. The more you read, good words automatically stay with you. Interestingly, reading makes you more attractive and fun too. You don’t want to be a boring conversational partner. The brain is flexible and produces good thoughts through reading. Reading enables you to engage a variety of people in conversation because your brain is well fed.

Praying-Teen-EGirl-TS-56382653-340x344Lastly, pray. If God exists and created you, he probably has a plan for you. It is fitting that you ask him unabashedly what that plan is. Confidently ask God to reveal the path of life for you. Only in God through prayer do we overcome uncertainty, find real meaning to life that we are desperately looking for, curb our passions that declare a war on us, and find light in decisive choices. Prayer is your best bet. Deepen it.

A Reference Point

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Phil. 4:8).

Most Scientists have the propensity to explain all phenomena of life through biological processes. They want to make matter the cause of human activities. Observing the human person, they want to explain his activities such as nourishing, metabolizing, formation, dispositions, motions, and organization etc. in term of what they see. They look at him as a machine, or a mere biological entity. They forget that he is a continuous and integral whole that cannot be explained in term of his parts. They ignore the fact that everything has an underlying principle, or a cause that allows it to be what it is, and capable of performing its activities. According to Leon Kass in his book entitled The Hungry Soul, the human person cannot be explained through his biological activities, which are constantly changing. Form, something that remains stable in the midst of flux, is the best way to explain the activities of the human person.Cravings-FrontCover-DigitalFinal-Vsn2-300x300

Kass makes form the heart of human activities. The form can be understood as the order that maintains unity in the midst of diversity, “giving it an integrity that the components by themselves do not have”. Form is like a reference point, a constant, or something unchangeable. He thus emphasizes the supremacy of form over materiality “though form and material are interdependent in definition and in fact”. It is not visible, but “’invisible looks’ is announced in the language of visibility”. Our look is a manifestation of our form. So, we can perform our activities because we possess a form. In fact, the form represents the foundation for everything that a person does. Action follows upon being as Aquinas says. The action that a person performs is a reflection of how he is structured. I will compare Kass’ primacy of form with Aquinas’ view on the primacy of form, and show that what we are, and do is a result of the way we are formed.

For both Kass and Aquinas, the form determines what a thing is. As Kass sees it, the form is the organizing principle allowing something to continue through a lifetime. For instance, although metabolism means the continuous exchange of stuff between inside and out and no molecule in the organism, although it seems to remain the same and persist over time, although it seems to be maintained of the self, by the self, and for the self, metabolism of itself cannot persist. Its persistence is contingent upon the form. Metabolism undergoes change over time; it needs the form to sustain it when some of its components are changing.

aaaWithout the form, in Kass’ view, the metabolism would disintegrate during change. The form of a given organism is a certain organization-in-action. So, organism is only the effect of the real cause that allows a thing to perform its activities. The true organizing cause is the form. Aquinas follows the same path. The intellect is the form of the human body. For that whereby primarily anything acts is a form of the thing to which the act is to be attributed. What allows the soul to know is primarily knowledge. So, knowledge is a form of the soul. We primarily perform vital activities through the soul. The soul is the primary principle of our nourishment, sensation, and local movement, and likewise of our understanding. Therefore this principle by which we primarily understand is the form of the body (ST I, Q. 76, 1). What is true for the relationship of soul and body is also true for the relationship of form and metabolism.

anatomyanimalMoreover, our human uprightness, which is due to our form, allows us to relate to our world. As Aquinas asserts it, it is fitting that man possesses an upright stature (ST I, Q 91, reply 3). Further in this same reply, he says that due to his erect stature, man’s superior part (the head) allows him to turn toward the superior part of the world (heaven), and his inferior part turns toward the inferior part of the world. Our uprightness, in the word of Kass, is reflected in every detail of our deep structure. The way we are shaped and formed allows us to experience the world in a manner different from all animals. Even though they and we are experiencing similar objects, we respond to these objects exponentially different. As Strauss asserts through Kass, “upright posture pre-establishes a definite attitude toward the world”. As Aquinas would have it, our structure permits us to better accomplish our proper end (ST I, Q 91, 3).

Though that is the case, our uprightness does not happen without steep effort, but that effort is rewarding because it removes us from the ground, distances us from things while at the same time allows us to overcome distance, and provides a certain mastery over nature. One of the greatest benefits of our upright standing is that it allows us to become ‘detached beholder’, or ‘disinterested interest’.

aweFor instance, a deer looks a person in order to detect whether or not he is a potential danger. We, on the other hand, look so as to see to behold and discover something new. Being a detached beholder gives us the capacity to search for the true, the good, and the beautiful through our seeing, imagining, understanding, pointing etc. Looking disinterestedly opens us to see things the way they really are without seeking closeness, nor remoteness, nor unification, nor separation. We must keep in mind that we are capable of performing these activities on a consistent basis only due to our inwardness— the form.

Our hands and arms are two of the most obvious manifestation of our inwardness. The form gives us the freedom to use our arm and hand in space and time. Though animals do seem to have hand and arm, unlike them, ours can be used on a variety of ways. our hand and arm allow us to have a ‘gnostic’ encounter with the world. When the hands and arms are cooperated with the eyes and ears, we can swing our arms to and fro, sideways, upward and downward etc. so as to relate to the different parts of our body. The capacity to perform these activities gives us the freedom to provide for ourselves through crafting. The fact that we have hands and arms opens us to “unspecified possibility”. That means that there is nothing we could not do with our hands—be it fighting or defending. Moreover, our hands and arms allow us to express our affection and create new forms of communications. In encountering someone we express our joy to him with a handshake, a hug, or simply with a wave. When we see something that catches our attention, we point to it; we behold it or show it to someone. As Aquinas says, we look for beauty and of itself. Through our hand and arm, we express both friendship and philosophy according to Kass. Again, it is due to our uprightness that we are able to access, or perform these activities. What we do with our hand and arm is a reflection of what is going inside of; it is an expression of our inwardness.

rsWhat is obvious from all this is that the human person is a mystery being that cannot be reduced to mere material entity. The human person is a masterpiece that science can never completely decipher. This lesson is simple, but profound. We are not to change our biological makeup as we see fit because we are much more than a biological being. We transcend what science will ever be able to discover about us; so, even if science opens the door to endless possibilities by allowing us to change how we were born, we must not do so because it stands in steep contradiction with our underlying principle. That’s a choice that demands us to be grounded in something other than biology. It is a reminder that man is a middle between nothingness and greatness, so he must labor if he is to be great. He is nothingness due to his biological makeup for today he flourishes and tomorrow he withers and fades like the lily, and greatness because when he grows old and decay, our body and soul are not annihilated but glorified. We are nothing since biologically speaking we are like animals, but we are great because what regulates our biology transcends biology.

constantTherefore, our decisions must not be based on our emotional needs primarily or on what the body is demanding of us. They must be grounded in something incommensurable— something constant. That’s the moment of choice. For each one of us, there will be a time when we will have to decide for or against the Good, for or against the Truth, and ultimately for or against greatness. So the question is: will you choose mediocrity or greatness? Choose wisely.

SHHH!!! QUIET!!!!

Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent (Prov. 17:28).

Silence is inspiring. We are bombarded with noise. We are so busy dealing with the noise, we barely find time to take care even of the necessities of life. It is a fact that we cannot escape the most burning and deepest questions of life such as who am I? Where do I come from? Where am I going? What must I do to be happy? What is the meaning of my life? Who creates me? Did he create me for a purpose? What is that purpose? It is in silence that the answers to these questions emerge. Unless we become students at the school of silence, life’s frustrations are just unbearable. Silence is fundamental to our perennial happiness. We do harm to ourselves if we never step out of the noise to experience silence. Unless we purposefully choose holy solitude, we are courting loneliness. Cultivate the virtue of silence.blooming-flowers-648-2

Nature teaches us that it is in silence that life grows. It is in the silent night that trees, flowers, plants flourish; it is in silence that the most powerful forces– the stars, the moon and the sun— of the universe conduct their businesses. It is very telling that it is not in a palace or in the city that the King of kings was born, but in the silence of the night. We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. She points us to God .

We procure noise even when we are jogging in the countryside—totally unnecessary. We create noise in the car, in the market, in the street, and in our room. We almost cannot escape it, unless we want to. Being in the noise steals all opportunity to enjoy the sweetness of life. If we are not busy with television, it is the Internet, Facebook et al, the IPhone, and people. Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all this? I do.

peacefulAllow me to propose silence as an alternative. it is in silence that we find clarity and a sense of meaning. It is in silence that life’s secret is revealed to us. It is in silence that we understand what God is telling us. It is in silence that our restless hearts find peace and leisure. Silence is the key to live life with passion and purpose. Silence is how you build yourself up to face the inevitable misfortunes of life. Silence is how you find what you need to do with your life, or the next step to take, or how to act and react to life’s curve balls. How can you deal with them without silence? Silence is golden. Do you realize when you are lost driving, you usually need to turn off the radio and ask everyone to be silence in order to find the right direction again? Do you ever wonder why? It is because it is in the classroom of silence the life’s puzzles are solved.

SONY DSCGrace yourself 15 minutes of silence everyday, and you will soon drink at the fountain of her delight. It is the most generous gift you can give to yourself. Disconnect— from electronic devices and people— to simply be quiet with you, yourself; I mean your self. It may be frightening at first, but it is needed if you are to find the right direction in/of life. It is going to be tough at first, but stay with it. Struggle with it. You can do this! All kinds of ideas are going to come rushing in your mind, dismiss them.

Finally, if you understand that man is not himself until he rests in God, then what is the best manner to rest in the transcendent God other than through silence? Silence lifts before the throne of God the deepest expression that cannot be expressed in words.

JOHN

That’s probably what St. Paul understood when he exclaimed: “we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words” (Rom. 8:26). That’s probably what incited St. Thomas Aquinas to see his masterpiece– the Summa Theologiae— as straw. That gives substance to The Psalmist’s cry: “Silence itself is your praise, O God” (Ps. 64). Moreover, the Greco-Romans, Judeo-Christian, and the Eastern tradition are in consonant that we are made for a life of contemplation. How is this possible other than in peaceful silence? Silence is necessary to reach happiness. Aristotle says in Nicomacheans ethics book X that happiness grows out of contemplation, and …wise man practices contemplation. Silence is the great teacher. The more one delves into her oceanic depth the more we can drink to our heart’s content. So if we are to learn the truth, silence is the road to travel. Embrace silence my dear!

WORK or LEISURE

In the beginning was work; work was with God; all things were made through it, and nothing was made without it. Work played a major role in creation. God worked for seven days, and before he took a break, he commissioned man to work to subdue the earth (Gen. 2:15). So in working, we are carrying out the very command of God. We are doing what God himself had done. When we work, we are being godlike because we are operating through the same mean that God had used to carry out his plan. So it is right and just that we work. Whereas the Greeks in the epic of Gilgamesh’s stories of creation depict creation as the result of conflicts between the gods, the book of Genesis describes creation as the plan of God achieved by means of work. Work then is not the result of our fallen nature; it is part of our intrinsic nature. We were made to work. Work precedes the fall, but the fall makes its fruit harder to get.trades

God not only worked, he also found delights in his work. He found his work beautiful and good (Gen. 1:31). He sees himself in his work. In the garden of paradise, work was seen as blessedness. It is a human need as much as prayer, food, beauty, and friendship are. God does not delight in laziness. When we survey the whole Bible, one pattern is unmistakable– He usually calls people who are hard at work. He called none of Jesse’s sons, but the busy David. Moses was tending his father-in-law’s sheep when he was sent to lead the people out of Egypt. Amos was a shepherd.

Work is foundational to our makeup. Most retired people wish they could still be working if their health permitted. Those who are constantly working rarely get sick. People who work are happier and healthier. In struggling to discover our identity, once we start working, we ipso facto discover our gifts and abilities. It seems in God’s mind that we must not only work in order to make money, we must work to live life fully. Part of life is to work. That is manifested in the frustrations we experience when we are out of work, and the pleasure we enjoy when we success at it.NYSECROWD

All work is a calling from God. Work done with care deserves to be paid well. A person who bears in mind that his work is a calling and performs it in that spirit should not struggle to make ends meet. Unfortunately, we are too familiar with good citizens who perform their work with their very soul, and yet struggle economically. This is something that must be tackled with the greatest conviction.

WRITERWork also dignifies us. The dignity of work does not lie in the kind of work one performs; it resides in how much of ourselves we put in the work. A work well done is a service done to God and our neighbor. Approached from that perspective, work becomes a way to serve and exalt someone beyond ourselves. Work performed from that spirit will allow us to be more successful in the long run due to the quality of our work. So while keeping our eyes on the Transcendent, our personal needs are fulfilled. Work well done is a service done to ourselves and society. When each police officer, judge, and lawmaker puts their hearts and souls in their work, everyone is safer. When mayors, senators, representatives, presidents put their petty interest aside, the common good benefits.

However, our life must never be reduced to what we achieved through work (emphasis added). No matter how successful we are at our work, even if the work that we do is our vocation, it can never bring fulfillment and meaning to our lives. We were made to aim for greatness; nothing other than greatness satisfies us. There is a reason why God orders rest on the seventh day (Ex. 20:8). Josef Pieper calls rest leisure in his book entitled Leisure: the Basis of Culture. That deserves more attention. He argues that work should be pursued so that we may be at leisure. “We work in order to be at leisure”. What he means by leisure is interesting indeed. It is certainly not eating and drinking, going to the beach, or watching TV. It is not simply enjoying the company of good friend, reading a good book, or writing a blog post though it does not exclude those. Leisure is a condition of the soul. It is the disposition of receptive understanding, of contemplative beholding, and immersion in the really real. He sees leisure as the attitude of someone who opens and lets himself go as if sleeping. Leisure is not idleness; it is the condition of considering thing in a celebrating spirit. That means peace, intensity of life, and contemplation at once.

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It only takes place and possible when man is in harmony with himself, the world, and its meaning. It is like the stillness in the conversation of lovers. Leisure as Pieper sees it is not a way to regain bodily strength and mental refreshment for further work though it does bring such benefits. The purpose of leisure is to keep us human. Deprived of leisure, work becomes a bare, hopeless effort resembling the labor of Sisyphus chained to his labor without rest and inner satisfaction.

Leisure gives us the power to step beyond the working world and win contact with the superhuman. It elevates us to a realm higher than work can. Leisure is the locus where the spiritual and bodily being that we are meet each other. It is the embrace of heaven and earth in us. It allows us to move beyond this cacophonous world of work and see that man cannot live as a mere functionary, but as a divine being.

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Celebration or festival is at the heart of leisure. All celebrations derive their source from experiencing and living out in harmony with the world. No one or nothing can be in harmony with or experience the world without being in harmony with God, the Creator of the world. Therefore, all celebrations, however remote that may be, give praise to God, claims Pieper. True worship occurs only within a religious framework. A simplified version of Pieper’s point is this: when man withdraws himself from his labor, he becomes harmonized with God. In so doing, he discovers that he is not simply a being made for work, but someone made above all to love, know, and worship God. That’s how we keep the being that we are from being a complete functionary consumed in the total world of work. Leisure is the rescuing of man from being considered an object of usefulness. Because man has dignity, he can never be evaluated according to his performance. Leisure enables him to live as he was meant to live from the beginning.

Unless leisure, we are slaves. For Ecclesiastes, if there were nothing beyond this life, the toil of man under the sun would be pointless. For some of the Greeks, work is demeaning. It is a barrier to the highest kind of life—the contemplative life. “We would reach the level of the gods if we can withdraw from the active life to consecrate ourselves solely to the contemplative”. For Aristotle, “only those who are incapable of the higher life should work”. Those views hold true only if man reduces himself to a pure worker. However, when work is seen as being coworkers of God, she work is viewed for what it is, man is capable to reach greatness and give glory to God.