The Meaning of Life!

Ecclesiastes 1:2
Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

Philosopher Peter Kreeft has said that there are three basic philosophies of life: Life is vanity, life is suffering, and life is love.  All three are expounded in Scripture and, in one way or another, all three are true statements.  The first philosophy – life is vanity – has never been given a clearer treatment than in the book of Ecclesiastes.  Some people wonder why a book of such clear, bracing, hopeless nihilism has been included in the Bible.  Shouldn’t Scripture be full of sweet consolations?  Not really, or at least, not until we see the need for something to be consoled about.  For Scripture is one vast drama of catastrophe and redemption, not a Hallmark card.  The catastrophe is the Fall, the result is meaninglessness and death, and the cure is the cross and resurrection of Christ.  Ecclesiastes brings us face to face with the really desperate state we are in.  Apart from Christ, life really is just an idiotic round of work, buy, consume, die.  It’s a big build-up, followed by the stupid anticlimax of age, senility, and death.  It goes nowhere, means nothing, and ends in futility.  The sooner we recognize that (and many in our culture spend lifetimes avoiding it by surrounding themselves with a clutter of toys, geegaws, fads, and assorted gluttonies), the sooner we are on the way to the cure.  Today, thank God for the painful diagnosis of Meaninglessness and ask him to show you Christ, who is the meaning of life.

Mark Shea


Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

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