The only thing that really matters in life is getting to heaven.
Among all the achievements of our life only one is really crucial. It is attaining the goal, which is heaven, set for us by God. We must be ready to give up everything, if necessary, to achieve this goal. We must also be ready to set aside anything that even gets in the way of our achieving it, no matter how valuable or appealing it may seem.
Everything else has to be subjected to that one supreme objective in our life: possessing God. If anything becomes an obstacle rather than an aid to this end, then we must be prepared either to set things straight or to put the obstacle aside completely. Eternal salvation, our own or our neighbours’, comes first.
Often the obstacles we have to set aside will not be tremendously significant ones. In the life of a Christian who is striving to please God in all things, this will usually be the case. What will have to be set aside and cut out are our minor whims and preferences. We shall take prudent steps to correct small breaches of temperance where our Lord asks us to modify our taste or our appetite, to control our temper or our moods, to overcome any excessive concern we may have about our health or comfort. All of these more or less habitual failings need very much to be taken into account, even though they may not be more than venial sins. They slow our pace and can trip us up or worse, they can gradually lead to bring about more serious falls.
If our struggle is generous, if our goal in life is clear in our sight, we will be decisive, not to say ruthless, and striving to correct these situations so that they cease to be obstacles and are turned into advantages. This is what our Lord often did with His apostles. From Peter’s hotheaded impetuosity, He formed solid rock on which He would build His Church. From the vehement impatience of John and James, whom He dubbed the sons of thunder, be fashioned the apostolic zeal of untiring preachers. From Thomas’s scepticism He molded a strikingly articulate testimony to His divinity. What has been previously a crippling liability can become a powerful asset.
Fr. Francisco Fernandez Carvajal (Granada 1938) is a priest in the Opus Dei Prelature and author of several books. He was ordained in 1964, and has ministered especially to university students throughout his career.