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The Quest for Fulfillment in the Modern World

People look for what brings them fulfillment. The question is where do we look?

In a society that is becoming more and more secularized people look for fulfillment in material things; money, property, clothing. We are told “more is better.”

Material things are necessary to a point. We need a place to call home. We need clothing. We need transportation. For all of these, we need money. The question is how much do we need.

The answer can be different for each person. A family with six kids needs a bigger home than a family with one kid. Yet, no one needs a home that is several thousand square feet.

We all need clothing but how much? If you have numerous outfits in your closet, how many do you ever wear? You do not need a different outfit every time you go out. It’s fine to be seen wearing the same outfit twice. Just because you see a new outfit you like in the store does not mean you need it.

What about transportation? Our transportation needs are also different. If you live in walking distance of work, school, and the grocery store, your need for transportation for low. However, if you live 30 miles from these same places, you need an automobile to get around. Even then, how fancy an automobile do you need?

To have all of these things, one generally needs money. The more we want, the more money we think we need. Still, money itself is not the problem. As Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains. ”

It’s when we let our attachments to these things dictate our whole lives that it becomes a problem. Our desire for things leads us away from having time for God and living our faith.

It even starts in childhood now. People who think all we need is more money, put all the more emphasis on education (which is important) for their children. They want their children to go to the best schools. That costs money. That may mean the parents work long hours and are left without time to spend with their family or practicing their faith. It is more important to spend time with your family than it is to have lots of money. It is more important to spend time with Jesus that it is to have lots of money.

How does this impact children? The first way is if their parents are never home because they are always working. The second goes back to what I said about the cost of college. Parents end up overemphasizing sports or other extracurricular activities with hopes of college scholarships. Sports and other extracurricular activities can be good at a proper level.

Material things are not the answer to our quest for fulfillment. If they were, why are more people being treated for anxiety and depression? Why are people seeking happiness in drugs and alcohol? Why are suicide rates rising?

Could it not be because people, in their quest to find happiness, have turned away from the very thing thing they are created for?

What are we created for? For love, to be loved by God, and in turn to love God with all our heart, being, and strength (see Deuteronomy 6:5) and to love our neighbor.

How can we help people see we find fulfillment not in earthly things but in God? We need to be good witnesses. That means we need to be the first to stop putting so much emphasis on material things and activities and focus on our faith. Then, when they see us with less than they have but happier, they ask why we are happy. We respond by saying it is because of our faith.

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

P.S. For more on our attachments to things and addiction to them, check out my article, “How Do Our Attachments Affect Our Relationship with Jesus?”.

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