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What is Happiness?
The dictionary defines happiness as contentment or joy that life is how it should be. Therefore on a human level, we can infer that happiness can mean any number of things. The meaning of happiness can be as unique as each individual. Happiness can then be a subjective thing that’s impossible to pin-point.
According that definition, happiness is a thing or scenario like many of us like to think. Sometimes we’ll find ourselves saying things like, “I’d be totally happy if my car wouldn’t break down all the time,” or “I’d be totally happy if only my kids would clean up their messes,” or “I’d be totally happy if only my husband, wife or boss, would see things my way, or “I’d be totally happy if I found and married the perfect person for me.”
But worldly happiness is relative. For example, if I were raised in upper Manhattan with nannies and housekeepers, which I wasn’t, that’s all I’d know. That’s how, for the most part, I would feel life was meant to me and I’d probably strive, throughout my adulthood, to maintain and/or enhance what I currently know to be reality. If I, then were to find myself in a small apartment in a poverty-stricken area of south Texas with no money, no housekeeper or nanny, plus having to do my own laundry, I more than likely would not be happy. Why? Because my life is not how I would have imagined it.
However, if I were raised on an island with no running water or electricity, but then came to live in a small apartment in a poverty-stricken area of San Antonio WITH running water and electricity, I may be grateful to be able to do my own laundry. I’d be a happy camper because I would’ve met or enhanced my definition of how life should be.
It is human nature to want to define happiness using the most obvious point of reference, our current circumstances, all that we see with our eyes, and feel with our emotions. However, in order for happiness to be true and real, it must be constant, infallible, and objective, not subjective and relative. And guess what? We don’t have to go searching for the REAL meaning of happiness, the Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1718 defines it for us as that of divine origin…
“God has placed it in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it: We all want to live happily; in the whole human race there is no one who does not assent to this proposition, even before it is fully articulated. How is it, then, that I seek you, Lord? Since in seeking you, my God, I seek a happy life, let me seek you so that my soul may live, for my body draws life from my soul and my soul draws life from you. God alone satisfies.”
I’d like to point out that, according to this definition of happiness, nothing in this material world can satisfy us. All passes away. Therefore, it can be said that the source of our misery stems directly from our attachments to our relationships, things, accomplishments, physical body, and so on. “God alone satisfies.”
God alone matters. When we remind ourselves daily of this fact, we slowly realize our dependence on God, our poverty of spirit and the first beatitude. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” To be “poor in spirit” does not necessarily mean materialistic poverty. What the CCC paragraph 2547 clarifies the essence of what it means to be truly “poor in spirit”:
“Abandonment to the providence of the Father in heaven frees us from anxiety about tomorrow. Trust in God is a preparation for the blessedness of the poor. They shall see God.”
Therefore, poverty of heart is complete abandonment and trust in God. That is all. It’s more about the heart than about the materials. There are plenty of people living in poverty and people living in abundance who squander that blessing by trusting in their own capacities or those of others instead of totally trusting in God.
So, my brothers and sisters in Christ, where do we go to find true happiness? Leave behind your anxieties and worries and take refuge in the depths of your heart where Divine Providence dwells.
Let’s pray together the Prayer to Divine Providence from the Precious Blood and Mother Prayer Book…
O Sweet and Tender Providence of God, into Thy hands I commend my spirit, to Thee I abandon myself, my hopes, my fears, my desires, my repugnancies, my temporal and eternal prospects. To Thee I commit the wants of my perishable body, to Thee I commit the far more precious interests of my immortal soul, for whose interests I have nothing to fear while I withdraw it not from Thy bosom. Though my faults are many, my misery great, my spiritual poverty extreme, my hope in Thee surpasses all. It is greater than my difficulties, stronger than death. Though temptations should assail me, I will hope in Thee, though I should sink beneath my weakness, I will hope in Thee still, though I should break my resolutions a thousand times, I will look to Thee confidently for grace to keep them at last; though Thou should slay me, even then will I trust Thee, for Thou art my God, my Father and my Friend. Thou art my kind, my tender, my indulgent Parent, and I am Thy loving Child, who cast myself into Thy Arms and beg Thy blessing, who put my trust in Thee, and so trusting, shall never be confounded.
Providence did provide. Providence can provide. Providence will provide. O loving Providence of God we commit this cause to Thee.
You’ll find the transcript to this episode at TheCatholicServant.com/Catholic-happiness and please share it with someone who may need today’s message. And, also continue to send me your prayer requests to Alexandra@TheCatholicServant.com so we can lift you up in prayer during our next family Rosary.
May you have a blessed and prayerful week.