Man has a purpose in life. Just as all created things are ordered to an end, so too are we. Of course the ultimate end of many created things are well known due to our observations from daily life; they can easily be studied and recorded by scientists and others. For instance, we see in nature the assimilation of minerals to sustain the lives of plants and the use of these plants as food for animals and man alike. This food chain is but one observable set of events that indicate the importance of everything in creation and the apparent ordering of the lower to the higher.
Man is also a creator of things and the intended purpose of our creations is normally apparent; a clock keeps time, a chair is to sit in, etc. These are the ends, if you like, or purpose for which they were created. In fact we judge the ‘goodness’ or ‘badness’ of our creations by their ability to conform to the purpose for which we made them. A clock that cannot keep time is useless (bad) in regards to the purpose for which it was created and useful (good) according to its accuracy in keeping time etc. The same can be said of all created things.
But what is the purpose of man? If it makes sense that we create things with a purpose and aim and that the natural order seems also to have a purpose, then should we (creations of God) not also have some purpose in life? Since we are not ordered to a higher form as food nor are we created to enhance the ease or comfort of a superior being here on earth, perhaps we are ordered to that which is not observable in our physical world. We might say that our aim is of a higher order; ordered to the spiritual rather than the physical.
We are not man-made creations devoid of fault for our defects. If we were clocks, we would be clocks that could self-direct our obedience to, or deviance from, our intended purpose. We could decide if we were going to run fast, slow or not at all. In fact, we might even declare that we were not clocks at all. We could decide that we would not adhere to the purpose of ‘clock’ to which we owe our existence. We might decide that we are beautiful and should be adored for our beauty or that we are beholding to no one and therefore should only seek self-satisfaction as a goal. Though we could make such a decision, it would not have any bearing whatsoever on objective reality. Since we possess such freedom of choice we bear culpability for the decisions we make to either accept or reject our intended purpose.
God has revealed to mankind the purpose for which we were made. This aim and purpose as taught by His Church is that we are to know, love and serve Him. It is through this means that our destiny is fulfilled and that we are able to seek happiness not only in this life but also throughout eternity. If we have heard and assented to this purpose as revealed by God, we might then measure success or failure by our conformity to this intended purpose. By obedience to this fundamental Truth we find our happiness and achieve peace of soul. All else might be considered a life completely devoid of reality; a life lived in conformance to a lie. Such a life brings unhappiness, confusion, and conflict. Yet many prefer such a life to that which is consistent with Reality.
The world may think the Christian soul, living in accord to God’s plan, a complete fool . . . though nothing could be further from the truth. This would be like an employee who refuses to do the work for which he has been hired, criticizing those who do their appointed jobs. He may deride them as zealots or mad men because they labor ceaselessly rather than lounge around . . . but a day of reckoning will eventually cost him his job. In regards to the Christian life we find ourselves a minority and thus tempted to abandon our purpose – the narrow path that leads to eternal happiness. We must continually remind ourselves that wrong is always wrong and that right is right even if the whole world is wrong. To know our purpose in life and to live according to this purpose frees us from a life of slavery to our own whims and those of others. It frees us from taking a poll in order to decide what is right or wrong. To know our purpose in life and to live in harmony with this end is mere common sense. It is the homecoming of the prodigal son, the raising up of oneself from the fall of Adam, the return to our original nature – that for which we were made.