Rediscovering life in abundance, meaning, and purpose in a world gone mad
By: Jack Rigert
“The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.” -Mark Twain
He’s right! Once you can answer the why… you will know “Who” you are and will have found the meaning and purpose of your life. Then, the game changes and you will be faced with the greatest challenge… to become the person that you were created to be. In other words, to “Become Who You Are”.
This is what Saint Catherine of Siena was getting at when she said, “Become Who You Are and you will set the world on fire!”
Pondering statements like these sets your mind in motion. Maybe this explains why I don’t sleep much. Perhaps I get five hours on a good night, and that is not without waking up once or twice. The question could be asked, “why would anyone get up at 4:00 AM if they don’t have to?”
For me, there are two reasons. First, fresh coffee brewed the night before, perfect strength and chilled, waiting in the refrigerator. Simple poured over ice into my favorite Thermos with the built-in straw and presto. Second, I invariably wake up with a storyline or idea on my mind from something I have been reading, studying, discussing or thinking about the day before. This usually has something to do with God and the often-chaotic journey of our lives, and I get excited to jot it down. Once up, the idea on paper and the coffee in hard, I start my day. This has gone on for many years now, which simply means that I have pondered and studied the “God and life” questions at length.
In the past, this has led me into some lengthy discussions with people. Many questions arise such as: Why should I believe in the Catholic Church versus some other? Why should I believe in the Christian God and not something or someone else? Or any one of a hundred other questions I get asked on a regular basis.
Something changed though the last year or two, and it has become clear to me that there has been a shift in the way most people ask about and want to discuss these questions with me. They no longer seem to be trying to have a debate or defend a position as they had in the past. In fact, they no longer seem to have a position to debate or defend at all. Though they seem to be genuine seekers, they are frustrated, for the most part, by any answer.
I sense an inner agitation in their voice and body language, the result of the unsatisfying position of having given in to the “culture of relativism” where it all boils down to just your opinion, my opinion, your truth, my truth. Everyone cannot be right, so maybe no one is?
So, some time ago I stopped. I stopped discussing why they should believe this or that and just told them why I did. It was because I had encountered God. Not information about God, but the real presence of God in my life. And the stories that I read, study, discuss or think about at 4:00 AM with my coffee? They are generally about the lives of people who have also encountered God. He showed up, made His presence known and their live were changed – radically changed.
Many of the most radically changed men and women I know first-hand are “twelve-steppers” – i.e. former addicts, many without any former belief or training, who had encountered God through Alcoholic Anonymous. Through my friendships and willingness to journey with them, I have learned more about love and the power of God to transform our lives for the better than any formal religious training I have had.
Isn’t this the Gospel story – lives changed by an encounter with Jesus Christ? I am excited about discussing Jesus Christ two thousand years after He burst upon the scene because He showed up in my life. Period. And when He did, amazing things happened!
Pop Emeritus Benedict XVI stated this reality in the introduction to his first encyclical as Pope, “God is Love”, when he wrote, “being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or some lofty idea, but an encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction”.
What Saint Catherine of Siena, many great saints, the mystics, and many of the former addicts I know found is this: when their deep, yearning, burning desire ‘for something more’ than the world had to offer was aimed at the Gospel, they encountered the Person of Jesus Christ. This encounter gave them a new horizon and a decisive direction for their lives! They were radically transformed. “Become Who You Are” and you will set the world on fire!
With that said, I would like to introduce a new podcast series we launched last week based on a book that I am writing called “Become Who You Are in Twelve Simple Steps” – Rediscovering life in abundance, meaning, and purpose in a world gone mad. This series is going to take us on a journey. Each episode will include real people who have encountered God. Also, each episode will integrate one of the twelve steps from Alcoholics Anonymous with Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. This combination can deliver an incredible one-two punch that if put into practice WILL make, and I stress WILL make, a dramatic, positive and often immediate impact on your life!
Let me state up front that I am not an alcoholic. And even if you have never taken a drink in your life, you will benefit from the twelve steps because it taps into the timeless wisdom of the ages. The proof of its effectiveness includes my friends – people who are walking, talking miracles, who through an encounter with God, radically changed from hopeless addicts to men and women who are an inspiration to the world!
I Integrate Pope Saint John Paul ll’s Theology of the Body (TOB) because as a seeker and a lover of philosophy, I wanted to know the why behind the twelve steps. TOB explains why it works from an in-depth biblical exploration of the Divine plan for human life, love and even sexuality, paving the way for a discovery – or perhaps rediscovery – of “the meaning of the whole of our existence, the very meaning of our life”.
Saint John Paul II was the first person who was able to “connect the dots” between my desire for ‘something more’, my actual experience of life, and the Gospel in such a way that it led me to that “aha” moment. The “aha” moment happens when you hear something explained for the first time but it “connects” to your heart in such a way that you say, “I knew that already and yet, it is what I have been looking for”. It’s as if this story was already in my DNA and I finally set free to “Become Who You Are”.
Well, it’s time to buckle up… Just click on the first episode below as I share the “cliff notes” of my story and those of Bill W., one of the co-founders of A.A.