Saturday, May 9, 2015
On Living a Good Life
I’m glad that the readings in the Liturgy of the Hours (which I read each day) repeat each year. Some things I need to hear over and over again --- I forget. The words of St. Augustine in today’s Second Reading are ones I need to remember:
Our thoughts in this present life should turn on the praise of God, because it is in praising God that we shall rejoice for ever in the life to come; and no one can be ready for the next life unless he trains himself for it now. …
Because there are these two periods of time --- the one that now is, beset with the trials and troubles of this life, and the other yet to come, a life of everlasting serenity and joy --- we are given two liturgical seasons, one before Easter and the other after. The season before Easter signifies the troubles in which we live here and now, while the time after Easter which we are celebrating at present signifies the happiness that will be ours in the future. What we commemorate before Easter is what we experience in this life, what we celebrate after Easter points to something we do not yet possess. This is why we keep the first season with fasting and prayer; but now the fast is over and we devote the present season in praise. Such is the meaning of the Alleluia we sing.
Both these periods are represented and demonstrated for us in Christ our head. The Lord’s passion depicts for us our present life of trial --- shows how we must suffer and be afflicted and finally die. The Lord’s resurrection and glorification show us the life that will be given us in the future.
We are praising God now, assembled as we are here in church; but when we go our various ways again, it seems as if we cease to praise God. But provided we do not cease to live a good life, we shall always be praising God. You cease to praise God only when you swerve from justice and from what is pleasing to God. If you never turn aside from the good life, your tongue may be silent but your actions will cry aloud, and God will perceive your intentions; for as our ears hear each other’s voices, so do God’s ears hear our thoughts.
The words printed in BOLD in the above quote are underlined in my prayer book. They remind me that I must “train myself” for the next life, now --- that’s prayer and reading to understand God and His word more. They remind me that often all I seem to focus on is the “troubles in which we live here and now,” especially after I walk out the church door. But, as Augustine reminds me, my life is not and cannot be lived only in the church, and to not worry about the trials of this life, and how well I bear them. “God’s ears hear our thoughts.”
He knows I’m trying. God tells us we are not to judge our neighbor --- only He is the final judge. I know that, and I do try to prevent myself from being judgmental of others.
Why, then, am I so judgmental of myself and my failings?
Do not be anxious, He said..