Creatures desire to take the place of our last end, and we ourselves, more than all, desire to be our own last end. A creature says to us, ‘Come to me; I will satisfy thee.’ We believe it, and it deceives us. Then another and another holds the same language to us, deceives us in like manner, and will go on deceiving us all our life long. Creatures call to us on all sides, and promise to satisfy us. All their promises, however, are but lies; and yet we are ever ready to let ourselves be cheated. It is as if the bed of the sea were empty, and one were to take a handful of water to refill it. Thus we are never satisfied; for when we attach ourselves to creatures, they estrange us from God, and cast us into an ocean of pain, trouble, and misery — elements as inseparable from the creature as joy, peace, and happiness are inseparable from God.
In the very center of our being is a place that is made for God — for God alone. Even if we were able to obtain every possible created joy, and were able to enjoy all of them during each and every moment from now until doomsday, we would still be utterly miserable because no amount of created goods can fill the space within our hearts that can only be satisfied by union with God, the supreme good. He made us for union with Himself, but we wander to and fro, throughout most if not all of our life, trying to extract from creatures both a kind and degree of happiness that they cannot ever give and we cannot ever obtain from them. Unfortunately, this cold, hard, ineluctable fact does not dissuade us from trying to find our principal satisfaction in things made to provide only secondary satisfactions.
Despite the fact that most of us have misused and squanderd a good amount of the time we have been given, there is no reason we cannot, this very day, begin again. A famous convert once wrote, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
We all desire peace and happiness, but few of us know how they are obtained. We think we will be happy if only we can obtain this or that job, build a successful relationship with this or that person, experience the best sensory delights as often as possible, but we are deceiving ourselves. Peace and real happiness are the fruits of a well-ordered life — and nothing created can give us what we seek. We all know the old saying, “You cannot give what you do not have.” Well, this variation is also true: We cannot find what is not there. True, deep happiness cannot be found in anything created; we must stop searching for it in the wrong places. Godspeed.