Life on Earth Is Not an “Ultimate” But a “Penultimate” Reality

Man is called to a fullness of life that far exceeds the dimensions of his earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of God. The loftiness of this supernatural vocation reveals the greatness and the inestimable value of human life even in its temporal phase. Life in time, in fact, is the fundamental condition, the initial stage and an integral part of the entire unified process of human existence. It is a process that, unexpectedly and undeservedly, is enlightened by the promise and renewed by the gift of divine life, which will reach its full realization in eternity (cf. 1 John 3:1-2). At the same time, it is precisely this supernatural calling that highlights the relative character of each individual's earthly life. After all, life on Earth is not an "ultimate" but a "penultimate" reality; even so, it remains a sacred reality entrusted to us, to be preserved with a sense of responsibility and brought to perfection in love and in the gift of ourselves to God and to our brothers and sisters. 

ENCYCLICAL EVANGELIUM VITAE #2, March 25, 1995

(Pope John Paul II, “Love is the Explanation of Everything”, Rizzoli 2011, Page 221)

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