The Long Way Home

We know that we were made for so much than ordinary lives, it’s time for us to more than just survive.  We were made to thrive.”
– Casting Crowns, Thrive

This is not our home.  As much as we are aware of this fact, sometimes its reality can press upon us.  A sudden death, incurable illness, or natural disasters can certainly remind us of our own mortality.  So, what are we to do?

Saint Augustine contemplated the phenomena extensively on his writings concerning what he labeled as the “two cities.”

In the work “City of God,” Augustine says, “The earthly city glories in itself, the Heavenly City glories in the Lord.” Later, he continues on the subject: 
“The earthly [city] has made for herself, according to her heart’s desire, false gods out of any sources at all, even out of human beings, that she might adore them with sacrifices. The heavenly one, on the other hand, living like a wayfarer in this world, makes no false gods for herself. On the contrary, she herself is made by the true God that she may be herself a true sacrifice to Him.” 

Predominately, because man himself is a physical being dwelling on a physical earth, his natural inclination is to focus on his immediate surrounding.  Yet, even Christ himself told us in Matthew 6:25-27 to not make this our primary focus, when He says, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

Yet we do worry.  We worry about what we should order for dinner, or what way we should drive home on the way to work.  We can also worry about larger things that pertain to our future here on earth.  Where we will live, or where our career emphasis will be placed.

Contrastingly, we live with the knowledge of a second city – one that is off in the distance.  Perhaps a final destination that we tend to dismiss because of the seeming magnitude of distance between our current state of life and that supposed end of the road.  Yet it exists indeed, despite our acknowledgement, or lack thereof.

By no means is this saying that our current material situation is dismissive or unworthy.  After all, the world in which we reside was created by a Divine maker. Yet even that which is created for good can become corruptible.   

Augustine: The original tale of two cities

The Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 385 says, “God is infinitely good  and all His works are good.  Yet no one can escape the experience of suffering or the evils in nature which seem to be linked to the limitation proper to creatures: and above all, the question of moral evil.”  

The teaching of the Catholic Church is that, because of original sin, man cannot do anything out of supernatural love unless God gives him special grace to do so.  Thomas Aquinas wrote that special grace is necessary for man to do any supernaturally good act, to love God, to fulfill God’s commandments, to gain eternal life, to prepare for salvation, to rise from sin, to avoid sin, and to persevere.  (These issues and more are expertly analyzed by James Akin in his article “A tiptoe through TULIP” in which he looks at the five main points of Calvinism emphasis in the Protestant religions.)

Perhaps the best way to compare these two cities is to analyze concept of a journey.  This analogy is most widely recognized in the allegory of Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan.  We do not exist in this earth to wallow in self pity for our misfortune.  Instead, this life is to be spent improving the lives (both physically and spiritually) of our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as drawing closer to God Himself.

Just as if you were on a road trip, the day-to-day traveling is incredibly significant.  You cannot get from point A to point C without passing through point B.  However, if you forget you are headed to point C, you can spend too much emphasis on your time in point B.  All of life must be focused with the end in mind.

What graces for the journey come from the Catholic Church!

Life is a journey.  Thankfully, praise God, we are on the path with the best traveling companion, our Lord Jesus Christ, present physically here on earth in the sacrament of the Eucharist.

 Drawing close to Him most definitely makes the road easier and the burden lighter here on earth, and what beautiful relationship with Him that will come to total fruition upon the entrance into the everlasting city.

Happy travels!

Si vis amari ama,

Chloe M. 

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