The Human Struggle to Self-discovery

In the grand scheme of things, there must be three pictures of each one of us before God: what God wants us to be, what we think we are, and what we actually are. I believe this life is about striving to synchronize these three pictures. Life is a battle trying to unite these three pictures. In each one of us is a disproportion and want of conformity; there is an imbalance created by the fall that causes man to be perpetually fighting. As Donald Burt put it: “our pilgrim journey is a tale of twisting and turning down the road to heaven. We don’t make our way through life like a straight arrow. We are more like tops… lurching from side to side, sometimes falling off as we lose momentum and need to be picked up”. We labor in pain as we await the fulfillment of our hope and the glorious coming of our savior as St. Paul describes it. It is like being trapped in the prison of the body where the soul is constantly striving to escape, in the word of Plato. St. Augustine put it so beautifully: “I longed for the chance to devote myself wholly to you, but I was held back… bound by the bonds of my own iron will. My two wills are in conflict and they rob my soul of all concentration (Confessions VIII, 5:10).

sonsonAs we journey through this desert and vale of tears, we move from one trouble to another. First, we must acquire the energy and wisdom to discover what we must do to reach eternal life, which is more than just following the law as the rich young man in the gospel of Matthew. This endeavor may take forever, and some got stuck in this painful endeavor for a good trunk of their life, and others spend their whole life trying. After this, we must act on the discovery. When we actually set our mind on doing it, we realize how much we are incapable of doing it. This begins the battle between the spirit and the flesh. No matter where we are in life, this is never overcome to the point of utter annihilation.

Our third challenge may arise from discouragement. Many of a time, we feel like Sisyphus condemned to do the same boring thing again and again. Life can become a nuisance where we feel like there is nothing new under the sun. That too must be overcome for we find our energy and hope in the future life. We know this life is not all there is. We are like souls in purgatory; we suffer, but we know there is hope. Purgatory_Plan We know our efforts will bear fruit and pay off. So we fight. When we acquire the discipline to keep going and fighting with enthusiasm and perdurance, and then there is worry. We worry about our children, our neighbors, our physical needs, our community, the governments… There is always something.

That’s the reality that both of us have to face in this life. It is the consequence of Adam and Eve trying to be god. That’s sin. That’s what happens to you and I when we think we can do it on our own, or when we give God the back seat. Be honest with yourself. Know who you are so you can understand how much you need God. When we pretend to make ourselves someone greater or lesser than who we are, we cannot accurately describe who we are. As a result, we lost the sight of where we are going. When we don’t go where we are going, we are remote from God for from him we come and to him we are returning. When we are remote from God, we become afraid of even God.350px-Michelangelo,_Giudizio_Universale_02

Honestly get to know yourself. That’s the most efficient remedy against this restlessness. “Know Thyself” was the motto inscribed in the doorpost at the oracle of Delphi in the Athens of Plato. To reveal man to man is the very reason God became incarnate. The search to want to know himself gives us St. Augustine and his masterpieces like the Confessions, the Trinitate, the City of God to name just a few, and he is a saint. Is there anything greater?

Start the journey to self-discovery. He is with you. Savor this delightful quote from the master: “What am I to myself without you, if not a guide to my own self-destruction? Or what am I, when all goes well for me, if not someone who sucks your milk, or savors you as food that does not get corrupted? And what is man, any man, as long as he is man?” (Confessions IV, 1:1).

Did You Smile Today?

A smile is worth a million dollars. Laughter is worth 10 millions. A genuine smile can make someone’s day; it opens up new world, new windows of opportunity, and as Victor Hugo said: “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face”. A smile is something powerful even when it is not seen. You have seen children laughing, before such a wonder, who can remain unmoved? Mark Twain was right when he said that nothing can stand against the assault of laughter.boy child

Dale Carnegie reports that companies in the sixties prefer to hire a smiley secretary with less competence than a skillful one who rarely smiles. True smile is captivating; it makes you stop for a moment to think what life is all about. We can be so busy moving from one thing to another, we never take a moment to smile. So as you go about your business today, stop in front of the mirror and smile. You look so much better when you smile. Before you start the meeting today, ask the employees or you boss to smile for 10 seconds. They might think that you just being bizarre at first, but it will completely change the atmosphere in the room. Smile as you are answering your phone today, smile with the clerk at the store today, smile; it will change how you communicate. Try it and let me know. It works.

You have every reason to laugh, but you prefer to focus on the wrong end of the spectrum. If people who are caught up in the war going on right can smile, if those people exposed to that disease can smile, if that little girl who never have a chance to walk can smile, so can you. It is not bad; you may not want to smile, you may feel that you have no reason to smile or laugh, you may think the joke is not really funny, but why should you not smile, just smile. Force yourself to smile. Act as if you were already happy, and you will slowly become happier. Action seems to follow feeling. Smile changes your thinking. Burst out laughing when you find the time. Create the occasion. Start humming a song out loud in the car, at lunch, while walking, while taking a tower. If you sound awesome, laugh at yourself. It will completely change you. That will change the way you react to people and things. Do you want to look like a terrible grouch, grumpy old person who never sees a good day, or do you want to be a happy, rich, friendly guy who is happy and make others happy? Your choice! You want to be happy, who doesn’t? Know that it does not depend on outward conditions; it depends on your inner disposition.

Closeup portrait of a group of business people laughingDo you wonder why you don’t too many friends? Well, how often do you smile when you’re greeting people? Laughter is the shortest distance between two people. Have you ever traveled abroad? Everyone laughs the same way; without seeing someone’s face, you cannot differ between an Asian, an American, an African, a European, or a Latino. They all sound the same. Smile makes us one; it connect us; a mile allows people to see themselves in you. Don’t be afraid to smile. You can be greeting people with a curled lip. Smile. Have an easy smile. Start smiling very often and people around you will catch up; it is very contagious. Be generous with yourself. Smile. Laugh. It is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and nature’s best antidote for trouble.

NB: don’t go around laughing at people’s misery, or unfortunate occurrences. They will kill you. Give them a helping hand instead. All the examples given here are created by you; they come from within. Plato, Aristotle, the Bible are very critical of laughter directed at putting someone down. We all hate being humiliated. However, they urged a laughter that rejoices in the good that comes to other people. So it is the philosophy behind laughter they hated, not laughter itself. “When the Lord delivers Zion from bondage… our mouth was filled with laughter, and on our lips there were songs…. The Lord has done great things for them’(Psalm 126:1-2).

JUST A MOMENT OF DOUBT!!!

As long we are journeying in this vale of tears, we will continually experience unfortunate occurrences. That’s life. As frank Sinatra sings it:” You’re ridin’ high in April, shot down in May”, but is this a reason to end it? The reality is as long as we are living in this life, there will be hours, days, months, and even years of difficult moment. There will be the inevitable day when all the confidence and faith in life, ourselves, God seem to vanish; there will be moments where we feel like we are carrying the whole world on our shoulders where there is no one to help us and the sky looks tempered without a drop of rain. There will be time when our past mistakes just lash out on us, and our conscience and regrets seem to take us hostage. We feel like we just don’t measure up; we feel like total failures, lonely, and alone. There can be times when you enter into that deep silence inside and ipso facto feel guilty— guilty of trying but unsuccessfully, guilty of giving your best, but to no avail. Then you might start questioning everything, the future, meaning and purpose, life, love, kindness, and existence itself. Know that it’s just a day of doubt. It will not last forever. 171629_20140206_200908_you_have

The unnatural death of a member of the community is a concern for everyone. That kind of attitude is a reminder that we are one family who deeply want the well being of each other. The suicidal death of Robin Williams lately has struck us all. He touched so many lives unspeakably through his talents, humor, and passion. His death broke his families and friends’ lives beyond imagining. They must have so many unanswered questions. His fans are heartbroken. He played in so many unforgettable, legendary, and inspiring movies that shaped our thoughts and attitudes.

Rightly have the media paid great tribute to his legacy and talents. Justly did they give him a lot of airtime. But I cannot help but notice how cavalier the media spoke about his death. They speak about it as if he were ill and died of natural cause. Not once did they focus on the wrongness of his action, or how someone should never commit suicide. The media’s role is to inform and form—inform about what happens and form our intellect about the right course of action. Suicide causes more death than car accidents in the world. So it is a pretty serious issue. Just like the death of Williams saddened us all, many suicidal deaths would affect us all. So it is our duty to prevent it from happening. Not once did I hear the commentators on TV mentioned how wrong it is to commit suicide. It must be known that suicide is always wrong regardless of the circumstances and must never be presented as an option. Therefore, it must be denounced as such when committed.

Every society before ours has emphasized the immorality and wrongness of suicide. Every society before ours made sure that people don’t think of suicide as normal. All thinkers who think for the sake of the common good understand it is unreasonable to take one’s life. Anyone who acknowledges the existence of a higher power or the power of a person to change the undesired fate knows suicide must not be talked about as if it’s normal or natural. Why does our current society want to think otherwise?

Even Albert Camus who saw the world as absurd and life meaningless rejects the idea of suicide. He argues that suicide is the rejection of freedom. Suicide is cowardice and laziness; it is fleeing from facing the challenges of life. Instead of fleeing the absurd meaninglessness of life, we should embrace life passionately and fight to change the course of life.tumblr_ma4d8jV7eL1rrfi3v

Those in favor of suicide see it as a question of individual right. It’s a road that can be taken when all the other alternatives have been tried. They believe that no being should be made to suffer unnecessarily, and suicide provides an escape from suffering. In this view, Schopenhauer compared ending one’s life, when subject to great suffering, to waking up from sleep when experiencing a terrible nightmare.

Those in favor of suicide completely misunderstood what it means to be free, or to exercise one’s individual right. Being free or exercising one’s right must not break the natural law. Just as we are truly free when we are driving according to the law of driving, this life is ours as long as it lingers on. Freedom is not free. It must be in accordance with the rule of life that maintains that every life is precious. We did not give life to ourselves, so we have no right to end it. We must protect, safeguard, and value it; it is not ours to take away. you are a dignified being who deserves to let people to care for you. Live up to your dignity.Pro Life Group Back to Basics graphic

If you’re going through tough times and pondering suicidal thoughts, don’t give up; don’t get discouraged. Know that those days are just moments of doubts. Better times lie ahead. It is not the end. There is help out there. Call people. Pray; God never abandons us. Look for help; look to people who care about you. They want your happiness. You make them happy. Don’t break their hearts by taking the suicidal road.

Suffering can be unbearable, but it is not meaningless. Your suffering has a purpose. It is your duty to understand the why of it. Ending it destroys any possibility of finding meaning.  Know that suffering does not have the last word. Suffering, even deep depression, can be advantageous.

25467af6e3ec56e2f2480819bbcc77adMaybe it’s life’s way to force us to find its meaning for it is inevitable that someone goes through life without finding its meaning. Perhaps, it is life’s manner of awakening us for the decisive hour, as Nietzsche said. Perhaps it is life’s way of allowing us to discover what we would never otherwise discover. The truth is these horrible, atrocious, unspeakable, indescribable sufferings cannot be pure nonsense and meaningless. They happen for a reason and that reason must be for our benefits. So we must not give in. Those who endure to the end will be rewarded beyond their wildest expectations. So it’s worth the fight!

Beauty Beyond All Telling

Every normal person knows what beauty is. Even a little child is attracted to what is beautiful. Beauty is attractive and easy to be recognized. There’s something beautiful in a simple act of kindness or a genuine smile. There is something captivatingly beautiful in remaining selflessly committed to a young handicap husband/wife. It is breathtakingly beautiful to come to understand the sacrificial love Jesus endured on the cross for our salvation. Each one of us has a deep desire to experience or taste that kind of infinite beauty. We long for that infinite beauty and are restless until we find it. We long for beauty and refuse to settle for mediocrity. beauty points us toward the answer to the profound and eternal questions of life. beauty seems to be something like happiness; although we cannot define it, we know how to pinpoint it and it is very recognizable.

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It is interesting that both the sciences and theology, despite the fact they have different focuses and are constantly shooting at each other, proposes beauty as the answer to life’s burning questions. Scientists overwhelmingly agree that beauty must be the standard by which we discover scientific truth. Beauty is the intersection where the sciences and theology meet each other and point to where humanity needs to be headed if they are to reach the height to which they are called. The overwhelming evidence of the beautiful order of the universe points to an orderer. Although that orderer is not necessarily the God of the Bible, it prompts our curiosity to get to know that orderer.

 

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When scientists look at creation, they see order, harmony, proportion, and unity. They all agree that there is something to be known, otherwise why looking?, and that something is out there. That beauty is in the eyes of the beholder is simply absurd, purely arrogant and a result of wanting to be powerful. No one displays relativistic view when it comes to matters of life and death. No one drives a car if he is told that it will explode upon igniting the engine. No one drinks a pill if he is told that it causes cancer. No one receives blood transfusion unless the blood is tested. Clearly, there is something good and beautiful in using a car. It is amazingly beautiful that a pill can make us feeling so well or blood transfusion keeps our engine running. So no one ever says that kind of beautiful powers is in the eye of the driver, receiver. It is ironic that we accept only what we cannot deny it. That should concern us, really. Why do some tend to treat so cavalierly moral and religious matters?

We all have deep admiration for a motivated and determined virtuous person. Even a divorced, unfaithful person admires a married couple who generously sacrifices for each other and for their children, preserve their chastity, and remain together despite thick and thin for the sake of the indissolubility of marriage. Everyone respects a man or a woman who gives up family and career to embrace celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Even an atheist can recognize the beauty behind that virtuous act even if he may see it as a waste of energy.

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There is beauty and gratitude for what Plato, Aristotle, Homer, Dante, the Church Fathers, the medieval thinkers, scholastic thinkers, the works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky and G. K. Chesterton have accomplished in helping us the value of human life and existence. How can words express the beauty in kindnesses done to complete strangers out of utter anonymity? Is there anything more beautiful than the virtues of saints like mother Teresa who dedicated her whole life to the poorest of the poor, even to the risk of her life in war zone areas? Who can fail to see heroic beauty in St. Maximilian Kolbe’s action who volunteered to die in place of a father of three in the Nazis death camp at Auschwitz? Who does not see beauty in Dorothy day’s heroic action for the homeless in New York City? Who does not accept John Paul II’s leadership as beauty incarnate when he re-energizes young men and women to not let fear be crippled them? No time to mention the beauty of creation which brings tears into our eyes in contemplation; what to make of the beautiful art and music? 

 

Why are the actions paused by those people beautiful, heroic, and praiseworthy? First, they perform heroic action not only in ordinary, but also in unusual circumstances; they acted when many could not comprehend the depth of their action i.e. in a time when their action could have gone unnoticed. Second, they are heroic not only when the situations demand it, but on a daily basis. Third, they act with promptness, joyfulness, and ease. Fourth, despite the magnanimity of their action, they remain honest and humble. That kind of beauty is like the sun darted about in dark places; it is not just in the eyes of the beholder.

On This Suffering: Thanks But No Thanks

Dostoyevsky, the great Russian philosopher and novelist in his novel Notes from Underground, invented a character named the Underground Man to criticize the lifestyle of the people of his epoch. He noticed one unmistakable thing for which every single one has toiled– prosperity. It is in man’s advantage to strive for prosperity. The Underground Man questions this mindset. For him, it is reason that compels people to adopt such an attitude. Reason is viewed as a miraculous pill that can cure every disease. That’s not right. Perhaps, here is the punch line, suffering offers as much benefit as prosperity. Shocked?

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By suffering, he does not merely mean, for instance, pain that an athlete gets from playing a football game; he especially means doubting the conventional wisdom handed on to us as if we must accept it without questioning. In his book called the Gay Science (gay means joyful here), Like the Underground Man, Nietzsche sees in suffering something worth desiring. It is the stimulant that inspires thinkers to think, and opens our window into the field of knowledge. It means going into the deep to find what no one before us has ever found, and finally it means disconnecting ourselves from the world in order to fashion a sharper eye to survey life. The kind of suffering that the Underground Man and Nietzsche are speaking about is not just speculatively, but practically; it is born from their own struggle with suffering. So what can be gained from the kind of suffering that the Underground Man and Nietzsche are advocating?

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They believe that it allows us to think outside the box and so become independent thinkers. During Dostoyevsky and Nietzsche’s time, reason was the clearest path to knowledge. No one dared to criticize what was found by means of pure reason and logic. Dostoyevsky borrows the Underground Man’s voice to reject this convention. For him, one must be able to question, doubt, and even reject what was found through reason. There is nothing that says that reason is infallible. It is just like the ‘Crystal Palace’; it is invented by humans out of their own stupidity. The Crystal Palace represents, among many things, the rejection of rationalism. We must stick out our tongue at it. It’s just inappropriate to accept whatever reason tells us as if we depend solely on it to acquire knowledge. It is inhuman to not even try to engage and challenge reason. There is nothing that says reason always works in our best interest; we must stop treating it as the surest way to know the truth; it must not be seen as the mean to truth; if we surrender ourselves in the hand of suffering, we will find the truth as well. Nietzsche, to bring about the significance of suffering, compares it to a traveler. Just as a resting traveler knows that the clock counting the hours will wake him up at a particular time, the suffering person knows that something will wake him up too in the decisive moment. Suffering, for Nietzsche, is like sleeping while we remain conscious of what is happening around us.

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Suffering is significant and even necessary because it leads to consciousness. It makes us live life actively. It is just impossible to remain passive when suffering is eating our bone. So it reawakens our consciousness to a magnitude that we cannot ignore. Hyper-consciousness distinguishes a great man from the ordinary man and the rest of the world. Although his acute consciousness makes him unable to act, it however makes him stand out. It allows us to immerse ourselves into the ‘sublime and the beautiful’. It allows us to see what no one else can see. Nietzsche does not see eye to eye with the Underground Man on this point about consciousness. It is not consciousness that allows us to stand out, it is instinct. “If the conserving association of the instincts were not much more powerful, and if it did not serve on the whole as a regulator, humanity would have perished of its misjudgments and its fantasies with open eyes, of its lack of thoroughness and its credulity… it would have disappeared”. The latter makes us a noble man and distinguishes us from the common type.

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The unmistakable observation here is a craving for attention. In their view, humans would do anything to be noticed. It is true that they strike a cord that drives the nature of man. We all want to feed our ego. We all want to tell people that we are here and we matter, especially when we feel unneeded. That’s part of human nature and there’s no running away from that fact. However, I doubt whether a lucid, normal, rationally functioning human being would go to such length just to be noticed. We spend all our life avoiding pain; we accept it only when we know it will lead to something greater. For instance, we accept the pain of exercising, or the pain of surgery because it brings good health. We accept painful working condition because it brings financial security. It is true that suffering opens door to see life for what it is; It helps us questions, however suffering is not sought for its own sake. We make the best of it when it comes; we don’t run away from it, but we don’t yearn for it. We know sometimes it comes for our own good, but no one craves for it.

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They offer suffering as an alternative to reason. Unlike what many believed then, reason of course is not the only mean to truth. Faith leads to truth as well. We need reason in the midst of suffering in order to rise above it. Faith is necessary in order to make sense of suffering. There is something we simply cannot arrive at without the gift of faith. Suffering (when it comes) can enable us to find the meaning and purpose of life, but the meaning of life is not found without the use of reason and faith. So although they are up to something, their thoughts are really too restrictive and incomplete to rally the ordinary man to their side.

The Most Important Thing

In a wide-reaching survey, 179 people were asked what is [the] most important thing in life? Their answers ranged from love, health, friendship, happiness, peace, helping others, freedom, women, family, money, I don’t know, respect, the environment, oxygen etc. It is indubitable that all these things are important because they contribute tremendously to our well-being. But something is lacking in this answer for it is impossible for any created good to constitute man’s happiness (Summa Theologiae II, Q 1, art 8), according to Aquinas. The most important thing in life must include something that remains when all is taken away. It must be something sustainable. The most important thing in life must be sufficient unto itself and be beneficial to us. It must provide safety and confidence in the midst of the storms of life. Whatever it is, I believe it must be something that keeps us going against all odds. But none of the answers seems to have those rudimentary elements. So are the aforementioned elements the most important thing in life?

To be fair to the responders however, there was an answer that I found striking. Someone said the most important thing in life is to find our purpose and pursue it. Yes purpose. We are purpose-driven people. We thrive best when we know what we want out of life. We are each created with a purpose and there is no greater sweetness to life than finding that purpose. Without hesitation, purpose is one of the most important things in life. Thus, it is fitting to want to find that purpose and pursue it as if there is no tomorrow. Life truly begins when we find that purpose. Finding our purpose makes us capable of living life with passion; it gives us the desire to wake up even when we are exhausted. It creates that burning drive in our deepest self to keep going even when going is almost impossible. It gives us our raison d’etre. My goal, your goal, your children’s goal, your friends and coworkers’ goal must be to find that purpose and follow it. Without a doubt, a purpose-driven life is a gift with which we need to grace our life, but is it the most important thing in life remains a puzzle yet to be solved?

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If we believe that God exists and has power over life, death, and our destiny, if God knows every single hair in our head, and knows our future before we were in the womb, he has to be the most important thing in life. The most important thing in life has got to be holiness. Since he is the most important, we want to be like him. “Be holy for I am holy” (Leviticus 20:26). Holiness means to be intellectually, spiritually, physically, and emotionally set apart for the pursuit of excellence. Unless we actively pursue such a life, life has not really begun. Once we put on that attitude, a new vision of life is created. Family, friends, money, power… are seen for what they are. Even if they are taken away, we will still have something, should I say someone, to rely on. No matter what happens, life remains meaningful. We are able to differentiate lie from truth. No existential neurosis is possible for our eyes are fixed on the proper goal and so we can scale any wall and go through any barrier. Without God as the picture, when we come to see these things for what they are and realize that we cannot cling to them, it may be too late to reach the substantial reality.

Holiness as the most important in life bails us out of this spinning torpedo. It makes us stand out. adoration With holiness, we can endure all things because we are not rooted in the ephemeral. It allows us to see this present life as the wing that carries us to what is eternal. Our inspiration comes from the one who tells that everything works for good for those who believe. If we understand God as the most important thing in life, and choose holiness for his sake, no mountains will ever be too steep to climb. He will always be there to transform the impossible to possible. He will always be a lodestar guiding us during the dark night of the soul. We will know no abandonment because it is against his nature to do so. So no crisis will be insurmountable. Living this is the most important thing in life.

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When you finally understand that holiness is the most important thing in life and embrace it with your whole essence, then you will understand that there is more to life than this. It is a waste to be caught in this corner of yours without embracing this monumental dream that God has in store for you. Embrace holiness, then you will feel like a child feels whether earthquakes, or wars are coming. You will know what it means to experience a genuine laughter. You will know what it means to feel God’s presence guiding you as if his very hands were pointing you on and his voice was whispering in your ears. You will know why some look at the sunset or stand before a painting board and weep. There is more. You are more. Choose more.

Grandeur of Man

Both Aquinas and Augustine have a blueprint that defines man as what he is and what he should be. Working within a Platonic framework, Augustine pictures man as the most important element existing in the universe, but for him that element does not really belong to the universe. Man is of the world, but does not belong to the world. According to Anton Pegis, this description of man gives us an ideal picture of man, or how he ought to be, and needs to live in order to escape this fleeting world of matter and time so as to cling to something permanent and reach his final goal. When Aquinas read the work of Aristotle, he forges a different understanding of man. Without rejecting Augustine’s view of man, Pegis tells us that Aquinas gives us a picture of how man actually is and what he needs to do in order to reach his final goal. For him, the universe and all it contains must be used as means to man’s final destination. Aquinas is telling us that man must use the world’s wings to fly to his beatitude.

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He found in St Augustine’s work something that captures man in his apogee of life, but he was not satisfied with it in its entirety. He viewed it as a building without a foundation, or a garden without a gardener. He removes from it what made it vulnerable, and adds what its base was lacking. In this light, Pegis asserts that Aquinas provides a firmer foundation to Augustine’s work better than Augustine himself could have done.

If Augustine’s view of man is the roof of a house, Aquinas’ is the foundation upon which that house is built. If Augustine is the sower, Aquinas is the one who waters the seed to make it fertile. At Ostia, Augustine and his mother had a vision. As he describes it, he said that he had to step beyond all corporeal objects; he must ascend by internal reflections so as to access the region of being itself and so have a glimpse of heaven (Confessions book ix, 188). Aquinas, on the other hand, does maintain the view that man is born to envision the kind of eternal bliss that Augustine describes, but that’s only possible when he is in complete use of his body because he is a composite being (Summa Theologiae I, Q 75, art 4). Aquinas agrees with Augustine that contemplating God, the summun bonum, is how man finds himself. Indeed, man must understand that he is made for God, and must abide in God. Man must know that he is nothing without God (Confessions book ix, 189).

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Thus, for Augustine, to mentally abide in God, man must turn into himself and detach his mind from worldly allurements. Envisioning God is actually man’s ultimate end, however for Aquinas that is unattainable without man’s complete possession of his body and soul. Pegis asserts that what Aquinas is saying in common language is that man’s soul has a spiritual thirst for the body that only incarnation can give. As Pegis sees it, Aquinas did not reject Augustine’s view altogether, why would he?, he adds what was lacking to it— incarnate spirit. This addition becomes the pillar sustaining the house of the human person that Augustine was constructing. Man is not merely a complete being, but a complete ‘incarnate’ being.

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That vision of man, which is a right and just estimation of man, has huge implications. It is the foundation of every ethical question that has to do with the human person. It sees humans as vacillating between two worlds: the material and the spiritual, the secular and the religious. It is the reason why normal people are against the view of seeing the human person as nothing but an instrument of pleasure. That’s why the dignity of the person needs to be defended. That’s the ground for human rights and freedom. That’s the basis that prostitution, human trafficking, abortion, euthanasia… are wrong. That’s why a person needs to be committed to in marriage. That’s why humans must not be engaged in debased sexual activities because that’s below their dignity. That’s why man needs religion to help him keep his head above the water. I mean he needs religion to help maintain the right balance between the need of the body and the need of the spirit that he possesses.

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We are the only creature who asks why. Only we, when we raise our eyes up in the sky, are amazed by what we see and wonder why. We are the kings and the queens of the cosmos. “Have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth” (Gen. 1:26). So we are immeasurably more precious than all creation taken together. We must never be treated as if we belong to the realm of this world alone. Unfortunately, many ethicists fail to see the human person as an incarnate spirit. As a result, most of them think that every human can live as he/she sees fit without any control over his person. We are not just body, nor are we a spirit. We are both. Our duty in this life is to strive to harmonize the two. It is dangerous to adore one while neglecting the other.

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You have been warned. So exercise, read, pray, and have friends. That’s the secret of a fulfilled life.