“Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings.

The stories that are told, the ones we really remember, speak the truth to our hearts.

I discovered “The Lord of the Rings” while I was in college and the first movie was just coming out in the theatre. I was at a crossroads moment in my life and was discerning the Lord’s call for me. The epic nature of the story caught my imagination: the adventures, the challenges, the possibility of failure, but also the joys of victory.

In these uncertain times, it is essential to remember the truth of our own stories. We need to know where we have come from and where we are going. The Catechism of the Catholic Church begins with a summary of the meaning of life, “God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life.” Put simply, we exist because of love and we are made for love.

The “Good News” of the Gospel is coming to know and experience this reality for ourselves. Viktor Frankl, psychiatrist and Auschwitz survivor powerfully observed, “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” I am amazed at what people can accomplish or endure when they are wholly committed to a goal. Life is an adventure, full of danger, challenges, and joys.

May we live our lives with purpose and hope as we set our eyes towards our heavenly homeland.

Rev. Rick Chenault is pastor at Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church..

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