Monday, October 21, 2013

Happiness In This Life

God never promises happiness.

Padre Pio, a priest who had the stigmata for 50 years, said that a cross in any form is a good sign and that if we knew the value of the cross we would covet it.

We have many crosses to bear throughout our life: death, divorce, betrayal, illness, loneliness, abuse, addiction, injustice, the list can go on and on.  So in the midst of so much suffering, can we have any happiness?

St. Thomas Aquinas equated happiness with freedom.  He said that when he looked at Jesus crucified, he saw freedom.  Freedom from the things in life we think will bring us happiness:  wealth, pleasure, power and honor.   Jesus crucified is detached from these things therefore he is the picture of joy and freedom. 

I know how carrying a cross can be freedom.  I've seen it in myself and in others that have overcome an addiction.  Addictions to food, alcohol, nicotine, drugs, sex, gambling, popularity or beauty, can take over your life, sometimes ruining your life.  When people overcome an addiction they feel free.  Chains are broken.  It takes hard work, determination and suffering to conquer the addiction.  It is a cross to bear and probably will be for the rest of their life.  Yet, there is freedom with their cross.

Freedom also lies in forgiveness.  Forgiving yourself and others is freedom.  Any speck of unforgiveness that you hold,  is like a chain around the heart which prevents you from the divine life.  The soul is bound.  Only through forgiveness can you move forward and be drawn deeper into Christ. *

God does tell us he will give us joy.  Pope Francis said that to be happy is good, but true joy is not something you get externally.  It is more profound.  It is a gift from the Lord.  "To be happy at all moments, at all cost, can at the end turn into superficiality and shallowness". 

St. Bernadette, who had apparitions of Mary in 1858, said Mary told her she wouldn't find  happiness in this life but she would in the next, meaning heaven.  Happiness, like a lot of us already know, is fleeting.  We can find joy, but it won't be easy.  Joy is found in detaching ourselves from the world while living in it.  When we can detach ourselves from the world, we can find the joy that God describes by taking our free will and joining it to God's Divine will.  Happiness in this life won't come, but joy will.   Joy will come when we decrease (John 3:30), so Jesus can increase in us.

*Holy Love

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