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How to Find True Happiness by Robert Ritchie

 

Today, the number of Americans who suffer from depression, anxiety and despair is growing. The organization Mental Health America reports that:

Depression is a chronic illness that exacts a significant toll on America's health and productivity.  It affects more than 21 million American children and adults annually and is the leading cause of disability in the United States for individuals ages 15 to 44.

Lost productive time among U.S. workers due to depression is estimated to be in excess of $31 billion per year.  Depression frequently co-occurs with a variety of medical illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and chronic pain and is associated with poorer health status and prognosis.  It is also the principal cause of the 30,000 suicides in the U.S. each year.  In 2004, suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in the United States, third among individuals 15-24.

Moreover, there is the self inflicted pain that comes from failed suicide attempts.  Some experts say that the state of mind of a person who has experienced a failed suicide attempt is even worse than before.

The skyrocketing depression and suicide troubles in America stem from the same, common root: a great unhappiness and a basic, fundamental misunderstanding about what happiness is and where we can find it on this earth.

As Catholics, we know that we can never be completely happy on this earth.  That complete happiness is only reserved for those who go to Heaven to be with God for all eternity.  While on earth, humans are happy to the degree they accept and carry out God’s Holy Will in their lives.

However, since the problem of happiness and unhappiness is getting more acute today, we ought to delve deeper into finding the solutions that lead to happiness, and to offer people a Catholic and comprehensive explanation on this crucial issue.

 

For this purpose, we offer an insightful piece written by the French priest, Father Henri Ramiere, which is taken from his book The Reign of Christ in History.

Going Deeper: The Search for True & False Happiness

Before leaving this topic, it is still necessary to delve a little deeper into the depths of our nature so as to discover the reason for support or resistance that it would offer to divine action in the different stages of its moral life.

The inclinations that drag the human will are very different and opposed, but have a common source. The movements that lead us to good and those that lead us to bad, the most reprehensible disorders and the most heroic virtues have the same motive, a desire for happiness.

We all want – and necessarily so – to be happy.  If this happiness could be present and complete at the same time, we would not hesitate at all to choose it. We would rush to it simply for its pleasure with all the impetus of our will.

But it is not so, and in this is our trial.  God, the sole entire and infinite good, hides and denies us at present the pleasure of His beauty; forbids us a love so filled with pleasure that we would be able to find in creatures.  And that’s where men divide themselves.

They let themselves be taken by the same desire for happiness but towards opposite directions: some want to satisfy that desire in the present life at any price, revolted against God, who denies them this satisfaction.  Others accept the time in which God deigns to satisfy them.

Here is the point of separation between two inimical societies that St. Augustine called “the City of God” and “the City of the sons of men.” The former is composed of those who want to be happy with God and the latter by those who pretend to be happy without God and in spite of God.

The former’s motto is “love of God even at the scorn of oneself” while the latter’s motto is “love of oneself even at the scorn of God.” But it is not only in one act that the majority of men take a definitive stand in either of these societies.

Normally, a man begins to act well or badly according to the way he is brought up. Obliged to receive from outside the greater part of his knowledge, he receives his inclinations from it as well. It would be, therefore, either good or bad depending on the influences he receives; and following them, he will look for his happiness in the service of God or in violation of his laws.

While receiving outside influences with docility, he will not be able to settle firmly either in the good or in the bad. That settling will only come from the fight. If his upbringing made him good, the fight will come from the attraction to evil; from the awakening of his passions; from the present pleasures whose allures he feels; from the immediate satisfaction that the thirst for happiness will exert upon him. It would seem fascinating to him to be the master of his own destiny and not depend on any superior authority.

If, on the contrary, man was taken to evilness prior to knowing the disorder it causes, the bitter consequences of such disorder will soon be felt. Virtue, in turn, will present its charms; and true happiness will put forward its solid hopes against the illusions of false happiness. In the two situations, there will be a fight and this fight will last for a long time through a succession of defeats and victories, attained now by the good, now by the bad.

To whom will definitive victory go? Only freedom will decide. But this is what happens many times: a man who lets himself be swept away by the most shameful disorder through a poorly understood desire for happiness; who is convinced by his experience of the impossible satisfaction of such a desire far removed from God; and who is crushed by shame and remorse; turns to the sovereign good and unites himself with it with as much strength as was his deplorable falling away from God.

We can therefore distinguish three periods in the moral life of man that correspond to the three primary ages of his physical life. The age of infancy, one of docile ingenuity and little self-consciousness; the age of youth, one of passions and fight; and the age of maturity, one of disappointments and fully deliberate resolutions.

In all these ages, man is either free to unite himself with God or to revolt against Him, but his freedom attains fullness only in maturity, which is the age wherein God has the most influence on human souls and in which He oftentimes redirects towards Himself those who did not shun very sad transgressions in their youth.

But, while the trial endures, be it in infancy, be it in youth, be it in maturity, God always has a great influence over hearts, even among those that have fallen farthest away from Him. The reason for this influence is the same that takes hearts away from Him: a desire for happiness.

There exists, therefore, between men and God, a great misunderstanding, for the happiness which they want can only be obtained with the help of God.  Provoking and maintaining this misunderstanding is the constant objective of Satan and his agents. Overcoming it is the priority of the indefatigable efforts of God and his friends.

The Word of God, upon descending on Earth, had no other objective than to gather in his heart and place within men’s reach all the goods they were unsuccessfully seeking for many centuries. After the Holy Redeemer ascended into Heaven, the Church did nothing but encourage successive generations to go drink from that divine source.

In the preceding chapters, we studied the divine plan in relation to God. We have just finished considering it in relation to men, and will now go on to study it in society and in the ensemble of creation.

 


 *The second part of this article is taken from the book The Reign of Jesus Christ in History by Father Henri Ramiere. 

  

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for May 29, 2020

Those who open their mouth to confess their faith breathe th...

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May 29

 

Those who open their mouth
to confess their faith
breathe the spirit of divine grace,
which is the life of the soul.

St. Anthony of Padua


My Mother, I will stand with you on OCTOBER 10, 2020

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. William of Toulouse and Companions

The priests, meeting with much hostility in town, set up in...

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St. William of Toulouse and Companions

William Arnaud, a Dominican, and companions were sent to Toulouse in the South of France by Pope Gregory IX to combat the Albigensian heresy then entrenched throughout the region.

The Albigensian heresy preached a dualism where the body was considered evil. As a consequence, they denied that Christ could have been human, rejected the Sacraments and adopted, in their stead, pagan rituals of “purification”.

The priests, meeting with much hostility in town, set up in a house in the surrounding country, and were making many converts, which upset the local government under Count Raymond III of Toulouse.

They and others, a total of eleven, including some Franciscans, Benedictines, and a layman, were deceived into accepting an invitation to the local castle where seven of them were set upon and slaughtered in a most barbarous manner.

The other four, William Arnaud among them, escaped to a local church where they were found singing religious hymns. Violating the medieval “sanctuary” – an unforgivable act at that time – and angered by the singing, the soldiers first cut off William’s tongue, then killed all four. Their bodies were thrown in a ravine, but that night, light streamed from them leading the faithful to their relics. They were interred in the Church of San Romano at the monastery in Toulouse.

The church in Avignonet where the martyrs had been murdered, was placed under interdict and for years the doors remained locked because of the sacrilege.

Many cures were reported at their graves.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

There was once a young country wife who practiced devotion t...

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Mary and the Simple Country Wife

There was once a young country wife who practiced devotion to Holy Mary, just as her mother had taught her to do. This simple young lady considered herself fortunate to have married a handsome soldier. Little did she know that her soldier-husband had made a deal with the devil, that he would sell his wife for a certain sum of money.

One crisp, autumn morning the couple went out for their customary walk. Oddly, this time the young man insisted on heading towards the forest. It was at the forest where he intended to deliver his young bride over to the devil.

On their way to the forest, the couple passed in front of a Church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The wife, overtaken with a desire to enter the church begged her husband to allow her to pray a Hail Mary in that church.

As the young lady entered the church, Holy Mary came forth from it, taking the form of the wife and accompanied the man into the forest.

When they at last approached the devil at the forest, he said to the man, “Traitor! Why have you brought me instead of your wife, my enemy, the mother of God?”

“And you,” said Mary, addressing the devil, “how have you dared to think of injuring my servant? Go, flee to hell.”

And then, turning to the man, Mary said to him, “Amend your life, and I will aid you.”

She then disappeared and that wretched man repented, amended his life and became a husband worthy of his simple country wife.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

 

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There was once a young country wife who practiced devotion to Holy Mary, just as her mother had taught her to do. This simple young lady considered herself fortunate to have married a handsome soldier.

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