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Good Tenants


Every time we suffer a calamity in our spiritual life, we grow alarmed and think we have lost our way.

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Wheatkallerna, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Many people on earth seem disoriented. They are not sure from where they come, why they exist on earth, where they are going, and how they can get there. They want to see meaning in their life on earth. ... Only God
can give to the human heart everlasting happiness in the beatific vision. Life on earth is not one monotonous activity after another. It is not a heap of scattered mosaics without unity, meaning, or design. People need to see a clear meaning in their lives and in the details of their daily work, which are often like those of the day before.

Those Christians are mistaken who think that religion consists in saving their souls in the sense of simply frequenting the sacraments and saying their daily prayers while they pay very little or no attention to their duties toward their neighbor. They have to learn that to be a good father, mother, spouse, son, daughter, citizen, worker, or official is an essential part of what it means to be a good Christian. A dishonest or negligent worker is not a good Christian. An authentic Christian is a good citizen. The Second Vatican Council uses rather strong language: “The Christian who neglects his temporal duties neglects his duties toward his neighbor and even God, and jeopardizes his eternal salvation.” An authentic practice of Christianity relates life on earth to life in the world to come. Gaudium et Spes comes once more to our help: “While we are warned that it profits a man nothing if he gains the whole world and loses himself, the expectation of a new earth must not weaken but rather stimulate our concern for cultivating this one. For here grows the body of a new human family, a body which even now is able to give some kind of foreshadowing of the new age.”

Our Catholic faith gives joy to our life on earth. It gives our life a meaning and a sense of direction. It helps us to avoid the feeling of monotony in our daily work. It shows us how the universal call to holiness should be concretely lived according to each person’s vocation and mission. There are, therefore, canonized saints from all categories and vocations: spouses, parents, young people, adults, people from various professions in the world, clerics, and consecrated persons.

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Francis Cardinal Arinze. "Good Tenants," from Meeting Jesus and Following Him: A Retreat Given to Pope Benedict XVI and the Papal Household. Ignatius Press (2010).

Printed in the March 2024 edition of Magnificat. Used with permission.

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The Author

Francis Cardinal Arinze is a Nigerian archbishop and cardinal and a former prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. He was the first African cardinal to head a Vatican office.

Copyright © 2010 Ignatius Press

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