i happened upon a japanese term recently: ikigai. according the wiki, ikigai is “a motivating force; something or someone that gives a person a sense of purpose or a reason for living… More generally it may refer to something that brings pleasure or fulfillment.”

within the framework of our catholic faith, i think that the various aspects of love give us a compass to ikigai. a challenge in today’s world is that many people have not experienced the unconditional love of God. this is God’s motivating force for life. especially in US culture, the christian faith superficially and primarily seen as a prescriptive morality. this perspective impoverishes the great mystery of God, relationship and love. love can be fleshed out in various ways: the good, gratitude, joy, peace, justice, self-giving, service, the cross…

but when we do know– in our hearts– God’s love for us and our world, it leads to various responses. broadly, this is faith and call. when we believe that the Spirit will lead and guide us in this call born of love, then it enables us to participate in love and care for others and our world. at our best, we respond to the call of jesus in our lives.

we can become more aware of the various ways that we are gifted by God and can appreciate and share these gifts with others in self-giving love.

we also will trust that God who has loved us first, will providentially sustain us and give us strength and courage on our journey of life.

in a word, ikigai for the christian is not centered on ourselves, but on God. we are grafted into this life of God in a connected communion of life. we give and receive love and discover it on the journey.

knowing your place in the world is an ongoing reflection because of the necessary changes that happen within and in our world. so it seem that ikigai can deepen over time.

the Spirit helps and guides in love. in the journey we discover our purpose, joy, fulfillment and reason for being. gratitude is our response to these graces.

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