Category Archives: Spiritual Life

Where do we get happiness?

In case you didn’t know it, there are levels of happiness. You also may not know that God wants us to be happy in this life. Period. Can we open our eyes to what true happiness is?

Four levels of happiness that we encounter in our experience:

  1. happiness in a thing: I need a steak and a bourbon; I need that vacation
  1. problem: short-termed pleasure: the flashy new toy
  2. we are created more than a designer purse: 
  3. who’s measure do we use for happiness?
  4. what do we really ask God for?

2. as persons we are more than comparative advantage, but we compare ourselves with others

      a. problem: the “advantage” has a limitation; it’s effectiveness is not long-lasting nor does it account for the truth of who we really are as persons made in God’s own image

3. finding joy in a sincere gift of self … to a point

  1. problem: when the person to whom our joy is directed leaves, then what happens? Was our serving really sincere? What are the motivations in looking for joy in serving?
4. union with God: the only place where we find true peace, love and happiness; the beloved rests with the lover;
  1. we are restless until our hearts rest in the Lord
  2. God thirsts for you to thirst for Him
  3. what does it do to God when we thirst for a designer purse more than for God?
  4. why does a created thing take the priority over the creator?

We are meant, by God, to be happy in this life and in the next. You may be asking yourself: What are the requirements for attaining true happiness?

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Gratitude is a sincere gift of self

The saints
(Augustine, Benedict, Dominic, Francis, Ignatius and Philip Neri) remind us of
something crucial in the spiritual life, indeed, our life right now: we need to
exercise the virtue of gratitude because of our dependence on God. Gratitude reminds that we are in need of grace but also to give of ourselves to another. Saint Thomas
Aquinas teaches that gratitude is closely connected to the cardinal virtue of
justice, by which we give what is due to others. But with gratitude there is actually a
holy exchange between two people. One person benefits from a good act of another but
also wants to repay the benefaction. Rahner spoke of giving alms at Mass as a way of being involved in the good works of the Church when giving personal time is not possible but no less important because while there is some sort of a bond among the pastor, the benefactor and beneficiary it is only made stronger because real faces are behind the dollar. Think of the times when we write a thank
you note, make a promise of a deeper connection in friendship, or even the
promise spiritual works of mercy. I frequently write, “know that you are in my
prayers” to remind me and the person I am writing that I may not be able to
give something material in return, but I can make a sacrifice of gratitude
before God on behalf of another because of friendship. Gratitude and justice is
rooted in charity, in love for another, because of the Other. I think of Blessed John Paul II’s  insistence that we ought to make “a sincere gift of self.”

Saint Ignatius tells us that to be ungrateful is a sin. Imagine if we account for acts of ingratitude in our daily examination of conscience even in Confession. How is it that today I can make a sincere gift of myself? Lent is a time to recall the concrete times we’ve been grateful and made a promise to pray for another.

Testifying the joy of Christ’s love

“God is not isolation, but glorious and joyful love, spreading outwards and radiant with light,” Pope Benedict XVI told the assembled crowd gathered for Mass including the new cardinals. The diakonia (the service rendered) of the cardinals’ task is “to bear witness to the joy of Christ’s love.”

“Faith without love would no longer be an authentic Christian faith.”

~Pope Benedict XVI

19 February 2012

A prayer on Saint Valentine’s Day

For some cynics in our world today’s feast of Saint Valentine is not worthy our memory, especially in ecclesial settings. Sad, really. How else is God revealed but in the revelation of love? Scripture and tradition teaches us this fact. Our friends in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd a prayer is given to us for this holiday that celebrates love:
You are the love inside of me. Alleluia, Alleluia.
I am happy to be with you, Oh Lord.
Happy is He and me!
Oh Lord, oh Lord, it’s time for me to say,
“You give the earth love and people love
that’s from you and will never be given away.”

Kathryn, eight years old

Des Moines, Iowa

Brimming over with the Father’s love

One of the blogs I read with some frequency is the blog, Domine, da mihi hanc aqua!, written by a Dominican Friar of the Province of Saint Martin de Porres, Father Philip Neri Powell. I recommend it, after reading the Communio blog. His blog post for today provides a good examination for. Tonight, people came to the parish to watch the second video of Father Robert Barron’s “Catholicism” project. In many ways what the friar says below and what Father Baron did in the video cohere. Read Father Philip wrote (in part) and watch “Catholicism.”

The Catechism teaches us that “the Word became flesh for us in order to [1] save us by reconciling us with God. . .[2] so that thus we might know God’s love. . .[3] to be our model of holiness. . .[4] to make us ‘partakers of the divine nature'”(457-60). Let’s break this down even further. Since we are alienated from God by our sin and God wills that we be reconciled with Him, our sins must be expunged, washed away. With the birth, death, and resurrection of the Christ, our sins are forgiven. For God’s forgiveness to take hold in our lives, we must receive His forgiveness as a gift–an unmerited grace, freely given. When we receive His forgiveness as a gift, we come to know the Father’s love; that is, His love is made manifest, given another body and soul–our own. With a body and soul brimming with the Father’s love, we begin a life of holiness, a life set apart from the world while living in the world. A life of holiness looks, sounds, and feels like the life that Jesus himself led: a life of mercy, sacrifice, love, perseverance, and courage. Living such a life–steeping ourselves in God’s enduring love–trains us to participate more fully in His divine nature, making us both human and divine, and perfectly so in His presence.

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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