Christian Life

OUR ULTIMATE END

Ante omnia considerandus est finis, et Secun
dum finem dirigendus est cursus. Before all
things the end is to be considered, and accord
ing to the end our course is to be directed. All
the world admits the truth of this. Every one
acts upon it in the business of life, and we all
act upon it twenty times a day. It is the
common dictate of right reason and sound
sense. In all human and deliberate acts it is
our rule. Examples abound in daily life. If I
go for a walk my first thought is of the end.
Where am I going ? I make myself clear about
that. Knowing the end, I see whither to bend
my steps. The view of the end shows me the way
to take. If I thought of no end I should go
anywhere. If you build a house the finished
house is in your mind before you begin. It is
the view you take of the finished work that
shows you how to begin, and how to proceed.
If you write a letter you have an end in view;
if you lose sight of the end the letter is not
done. It was begun for a purpose, other things
came to engage you, the purpose was forgotten,
and the letter never finished. If the end be
not in view, nothing urges you to work in ordine
ad finem.
Filii hominum, usquequo gravi corde * “Ye
sons of men, how long will you be dull of heart?”
Why are you so careful over your daily little
ends and purposes and see your way to gain
them without fail, ordering the means straight to
the end, and yet for the great ultimate end of life
you have not the like wisdom ? Usquequo gravi
corde? “How long will you be dull of heart 2 ”
I. I will know my ultimate end. I will not
be less wise in the business of eternity than I
am in the business of this life.
My ultimate end is union with God by perfect
love.
I. Union with God—because He is the be
ginning and end of all perfection, and apart
from Him the creature is nothing.
2. By perfect love—because love alone is the
unitive virtue, uniting two in the bonds of
friendship. Amor est virtus unitiva. Plenitudo
legis est dilectio.” Nor would all other virtues
apart from love suffice for such union; but rather
be as sounding brass and tinkling cymbal, as the
Apostle tells us.
Taking a clear view of our last end as being
union with God by perfect love, it behoves us
at the outset (as Seneca teaches) to throw our
lives into design in accordance with this end.
And God Himself begins the work within us.

He is at once our Author and Finisher. He
grafts His grace upon our nature, whereby union
with Him by love is already commenced here
below. And as nature lives and works by her
powers of intellect, memory, and will, so grace
lives and works by her spiritual powers of Faith,
Hope, and Charity; Faith being the illuminating
power, Hope the aspiring power, and Charity the
loving and moving power. Thus, by Faith we
gain the knowledge of God and of Divine things;
by Hope we maintain our progress to Him ; and
by Charity we love and serve Him. This is the
beginning of our union with God on earth.
Hence, it is well said that grace is glory begun,
and glory is grace perfected.
II. To know my ultimate end will not avail
me unless I gain it. The knowledge of a thing
is the first condition of doing it. I must know
the way before I go the way. Hence, secundum
finem dirigendus est cursus. If I clearly see
that my destiny is to be united with God in
perfect love, my business now is to dispose
myself to this end, and make my life a constant
progress thereto.
Understand that we are in the theological
virtues now. They are the beginning of our
union with God here below. They are the
essence of Christianity and of spiritual life,
and of sanctity too. The saints were all saints
through the theological virtues, the only differ
ence between them and us is that their
hope, and charity were well developed; they
saw God by faith, saw Him around them and
within them, they tended mightily to Him by
hope ; and they found Him, and lived with
Him, and worked with Him by charity. Here
was their sanctity. But we are far from this
development. Why don’t we take it in hand 2
We have the makings of sanctity within us,
as they had ; they used their talents—from
five made ten, doubling their faith, hope, and
love; they used their lights, their graces, the
powers for improving themselves they had; they
were in earnest with God. Why don’t we do
this too “Trade till I come,” was the in
junction of the Master in the parable of the
pounds. And there was the steward who had
“wasted his goods.” Each of the theological
virtues is a Divine gift to our souls—a distinct
talent to be used and improved—one of the
most precious “goods” which the Master has
to give. “Trade till I come.” Not for a day,
or a few months, or years, but “till I come ’’—
till I call you—till I require from you the account
of My goods. Therefore, let us know how to
use these three precious gifts.
III. Faith is the illuminating power;
Hope, the aspiring power;
Charity, the vivifying and moving power.
Every good Catholic takes care of his faith
as he takes care of his sight. Who would injure
his sense of seeing ? Who would lose it See
that your faith is not injured by want of care.
It might go, as your sight might go, if you are
rash or heedless. Every power is for its proper
use. If you use a power, it strengthens; if you
neglect it, it weakens. Therefore, exercise and
cultivate your faith by acting up to what you
believe. The presence of God around and
within you, our Lord’s presence in the Blessed
Sacrament, the presence of the angels around
the Blessed Sacrament, and ourselves. The
Mass, the greatest act in the world. The
Catholic religion, the coming of the unseen
world into this. Our Lord, the head of angels
and of men, ever in our midst in His Sacramental
Life. He absolves, He baptizes, He consecrates.
The Church on earth representing the Divine
presence and authority in the world. Our living
Superior representing our Lord to us. The rules
of our state of life giving us God’s will to be
done. All this is the life of faith in exercise
and operation. We have to “walk by faith,
and not by sight.”” The unseen world sur
rounds us as much as the world we see. “What
we see of this world below, is as a screen, hiding
from us God, and Christ, and the angels, and
the saints.”” “We look not at the things that
are seen, but the things that are not seen : for
the things that are seen are temporal, but the
things that are not seen are eternal.”

By hope we “forget the things that are
behind, and stretch forth to those that are
before,” ever maintaining our progress to the
ultimate end, seeing, as by instinct, the things
that help us, and the things that hinder us;
acting in this way as good traders, improving
our position, increasing our gains, repairing our
losses, taking and making opportunities for
fresh advantages, holding to our ideal, union
with God by perfect love, and making all we
can contribute to its gradual development and
ultimate attainment.
* But charity it is that is the actual link of
union with God here below, for it is the mutual
love between the soul and God, which, if a soul
has, it alone suffices, and without which not
all things else suffice.” Who teaches this in
more emphatic language than the inspired
Apostle P “If I speak with the tongues of
men and angels and have not charity, I am
become as a sounding brass and a tinkling
cymbal. And if I should have prophecy, and
should know all mysteries, and all knowledge;
and if I should have all faith to remove moun
tains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And
if I should distribute all my goods to feed the
poor, and if I should give my body to be burned,
and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”

It is certain that we know God by faith, in
order that we may love Him by charity. Let
us realise the beauty of this mutual love; it
is certainly the beginning of our beatitude on
earth. It is God loving the soul, and the soul
loving God; God giving Himself to us, and we
giving ourselves to Him; God abiding with us,
and we with Him; God working with us, and
we working with Him; God enjoying Himself
with us, and we enjoying ourselves with Him.
Moreover, in the nature of the case, love is a
principle of action; in true spiritual life, there
fore, Divine love supersedes natural love, as the
spring of our actions. Hence, our Lord says,
“He that loveth Me, keepeth My word; ””
and S. Paul, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also
walk in the Spirit.”” Love moves us to do the
will of the one we love. “Love is the fulfilling
of the law.”” As a man loves, so he moves;
and “good or bad loves make good or bad lives.” ”
Charity, therefore, as the life of mutual love
between the soul and God is the via recta ad
Deum ; the direct way to the ultimate end.
With this we come to a clear conclusion.
As before all things we must look to the end,
and according to the end direct our course, we
see that our end is union with God by perfect
love; we see also that the life of love, in its
beginnings, has been planted in us by the
infusion of the theological virtues. The kingdom
of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed;
our life of charity is there, but small, weak,
and unformed. What, then, can be our way
to the end of perfect love, but a firm grasp of
the vivifying, moving power, already ours, of
God’s own love within us, using it as a habit
disposed to its acts, and applying it to the works
of daily life, that all may be animated with
Divine life and love—God and the soul living
and working together—as our Lord said, “I
in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be
made perfect in one.” Ut Te tota virtute
diligant, et quae Tibi placita sunt tota dilectione
perficiant.” All consists in the formation of
a habit. Why should we not seize upon the
formation of higher habits, as well as lower ?
Why should we not seize on the highest of all ?
No habit is higher or of more eternal value to
us than the habit of Divine charity. It is a
matter of using what we have. Ambulate in
dilectione.” “Walk in love, as most dear chil
dren.” Put it forth, exercise it, strengthen it,
develop it, advance in the way of love, bring
your love to perfection as a habit. It gets you
nearer and nearer to God, it brings you to Him,
it unites you with Him. Love thus becomes
the end, and the way to the end too. Union
with God by perfect love being the ultimate end,
and the gradual formation of the habit of charity
by means of its acts being the way to the end.
Excellentiorem viam vobis demonstro. “Show
me, O Lord, Thy ways, and teach me Thy
paths.””
Let us finish with the ever-to-be-remembered
law of life with which we began, and let it never
be erased from our minds, for it is the guiding
star of our journey here below—Ante omnia
considerandus est finis—et secundum finem diri
gendus est cursus.

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