posted on: Thursday October 7, 2010
Fr. James Cuddy, O.P. / Contributing Writer
I’m not really the most sensitive guy in the world. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever used the word “huggy” to describe me. When I go to the movies, I tend to see films in which stuff blows up instead of romantic flicks. (A confession: I did see 50 First Dates, but only because it starred Adam Sandler and I thought it might be like The Waterboy). Anyhow, you get the picture.
That being said, I’ve found the meaning of life, and it sounds funny coming out of the mouth of a guy such as myself. But here it is: the purpose of our existence is to fall in love. That’s why we’re here.
Consider the point on a human level. When a person sees his or her significant other, the heart soars and emotions get stirred up. They want to be in the presence of their beloved and shower them with every good thing, even at the risk of looking silly. A favorite example springs to mind from Commencement Week last year. A guy put on his rented tuxedo the morning of the formal and walked into the middle of an agonizingly boring meeting in which his date was stuck. The conversation screeched to a halt as he walked up to his girlfriend, gave her a bouquet of flowers in front of all of the other students, and walked out just as suddenly as he had walked in. (Nice, right?)
Now think of divine love. The goal of being in a relationship with God is not simply to seek the things we need or want. Still less is it merely to fulfill an obligation out of a sense of duty. The whole point is to fall head over heels in love with the One who first loved us. This is the supreme romance, and is better than anything else in the world. When we fall in love with God, we want to be with him, to know him better, and to give him everything. Like the guy in the tuxedo, we want to show our affection in unsparing and magnificent ways.
So often we think of prayer — the union of the individual with God — as tedious, boring, and even pointless. The stillness of prayer can make us uncomfortable and we can easily fall prey to all kinds of distractions. Prayer can be hard, to be sure, and it can seem downright impossible for those of us who are beginners. We don’t know where to start and we don’t know what to say.
But isn’t that the way many of our human relationships start? We stutter, we stumble, and we try not to look stupid. But in due course we get better at it. Conversation comes more easily, and eventually can seem effortless. And prayer is the same way. As hard as it is at the beginning, the eventual joy and thrill of knowing and loving God is beyond our wildest dreams. As I said before, it’s the reason that God put us on this earth in the first place. We’re here to fall in love. And for the record, I kind of liked 50 First Dates. There, I said it.