“And They Lived Happily Ever After”
There once was a King. The King had a heart of pure love. If you could see it, you would see its ruby red, yet snow white glow. Out of His pure love, He desired a bride, and He searched high and low across the world for a woman fit to be his bride. He found her in the slums of the poorest, dirtiest village in the world. The woman he found to be His bride was the most homely woman, with an unbearable stench. She was selfish, lustful, adulterous, and dishonest. Despite this, the King’s desire was for her, and He knew that she was capable of loving Him purely, one day. The King grew so fond of the woman, and wanting to demonstrate His love for her, he gave up His castle and moved to live in her village. Through their time together, the woman changed. She had never experienced such love in her life. She marries her King and they moved back to the castle where they had many children, more than the number of the stars, “and they lived happily ever after.”
Everyone loves a good story. Whether it is told to them, watched in a movie, or read in a book, stories are something we can relate to, that we can become a part of. Over the past few weeks, I have been watching an amazing T.V. show, “Once upon a Time.” The series is about fairy tale characters, cursed to our world, who have forgotten who they really are. One boy living in their real world town of Storybrooke knows something is up and fully believes that all the people in his town are from this fairy tale world that his storybook speaks of. His mother is said to be the savior who will be able to break this curse and enable them to return home. And so begins his search for her and the redemption of the fairy tale characters.
This story had reminded me in a very real way about what draws me into stories, but in particular, fairy tales. Fairy tales are a place where I can escape to. They have stood the test of time, and are something I love and desire to be a part of. I spent much time questioning why, and I came to realize that it is because it is modeled after the attainment of Salvation, of being able to spend eternity with God after a lifetime of serving Him faithfully, in seeking and fighting to live virtuous lives.
In fairy tales, everyone is seeking a happy ending, from the heroes to the villains. They also relay to us eternal truths, from the importance of purity and innocence, to unconditional love, and the choice we have to overcome evil in our lives. They also show the effect that vices like selfishness and jealousy have on ourselves and others. Fairy tales clearly demonstrate the difference between good and evil. Most of all, they reflect our desire for good to prevail and obtain the happy ending that we desire. The good is something that has to be fought for, and as in all the fairy tales we know, that is the only way that good prevails. And the good always wins.
A common theme in fairy tales for many people, especially the villains, is that they feel that the happy ending they want is not attainable. We too often find ourselves feeling the same. Here is the good news though – our happy ending is attainable.
“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
C.S. Lewis said it so well in this quote. No matter what, we find that our desires here are never fulfilled permanently. We are loved, complimented, praised, cared for, but it never satisfies us. We buy things, and are happy over the newness in our lives, but only for a time, and then it wears off. Our mood changes, or circumstances happen, and we no longer feel the same happiness or satisfaction. We can take comfort and joy in knowing that as baptized Catholics, we are part of something bigger, the family of God, and will hopefully one stay spend our eternity with Him in eternal happiness. As Catholics, we understand that we have been created in the image and likeness of God. Our vocation as such is to live in eternal happiness with God (in this world and the next), and we fully experience what it means to be human when we freely direct ourselves towards our eternal destiny. This is the happy ending, the “fairy tale” ending we have been created for. Only we can choose that end.
A wonderful way to be reminded of this end that I am created for is through attending and participating in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. There is truly something supernatural about it, as it is something like the “magic” in fairy tales, in that it is something far beyond our understanding. It is mystical and awe-inspiring. It is in the Mass that Christ gives Himself to us, who we consume, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. I am fulfilled, yet thirst for more of God Himself, because in this life, the Beatific Vision has not yet been attained. What a great gift and grace that has been given to us, in Christ dying for us, to make eternal life with Him possible.
In fairy tales, “living happily ever after”, is modeled after Jesus Christ and His Church. The virtues which the heroes demonstrate are the way by which they are able to live happily ever after. We are the children, with the Church as our mother. The Church is royal by way of her husband, Jesus Christ, and we too are royal by our Baptism. We are the princes and princesses, like those of fairy tales. Infinitely more than your greatest desire, Our Lord desires so deeply for you and me to know how stunningly beautiful His bride, the Church is, and subsequently how infinitely deep His love for us is. The more you get to know Jesus Christ, the more you experience and feel that desire of God for us. In the end, God does not condemn us to Hell, or make us go to Heaven. We are choosing that now, as we live our lives, and make the choices to be with Him or reject Him. May we choose our King now so that when we die, we too may live, “happily ever after” with Him in Heaven.