Tag Archives: happiness

Newman: Happiness, the ways by which perfection is reached

English: Portrait painting of John Henry Newman

Discernment of God’s will difficult, and living with the gift of happiness God hasgiven each of one us is a challenging thing. We can get in the way and obscure what is real and what is fantasy. I was speaking with a friend yesterday and our conversation at one point turned to John Henry Newman. Newman knows all! (So does Balthasar, Ratzinger Giussani, to name a few people). My friend and I are trying to locate happiness: what it is, what it is not, how do I experience it, and where, etc. Happiness is not easy to categorize, accept, give, reverence, promote, etc. What is clear is that true happiness involves God and life in God; what is less clear are the contours of that happiness and even lesser is knowing how my participation in happiness is supposed to be as God wants. If you find theway to happiness that is coherent, let us know. In the meantime, Newman makes sense especially in pointing to the fact that we have to have a level of abandonment to the will of God. 

On this day in 1848 Newman wrote the following:

1. GOD has created all things for good; all things for their greatest good; everything for its own good. What is the good of one is not the good of another; what makes one man happy would make another unhappy. God has determined, unless I interfere with His plan, that I should reach that which will be my greatest happiness. He looks on me individually, He calls me by my name, He knows what I can do, what I can best be, what is my greatest happiness, and He means to give it me.

2. God knows what is my greatest happiness, but I do not. There is no rule about what is happy and good; what suits one would not suit another. And the ways by which perfection is reached vary very much; the medicines necessary for our souls are very different from each other. Thus God leads us by  strange ways; we know He wills our happiness, but we neither know what our happiness is, nor the way. We are blind; left to ourselves we should take the wrong way; we must leave it to Him.

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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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Angelo Scola: how do we face the post-modern world as a Church? In happiness and freedom as announced by Christ!


Gerry O’Connell speaks to the Patriarch of Venice, Cardinal Angelo Scola – son of a socialist truck driver and a profoundly Catholic mother. He is also a leading intellectual in the Italian Bishops’ Conference and one of the more creative and original thinkers in the College of Cardinals.


Q. What do you see as the main challenges facing the Catholic Church today? 

A. I think the principal challenge, which the Church shares with every other social subject in the field, is the interpretation of the post-modern. The question is; have we, or have we not entered the post-modern world? Certainly the collapse of the Berlin Wall has marked a rather radical mutation that can be seen in certain macroscopic phenomena.

Indeed, what is happening in the Middle East is like a second phase of what happened in 1989. There is obviously a strong desire for freedom on the part of peoples on the world stage, and that comes with an urgent demand for real participation. 

This has complicated even more that which I call the process of the mixing of civilizations and cultures; that is, a process of movement and displacement of peoples which will become even more radical in the coming decades. All this has made it made more urgent for us in Europe to gain a deeper knowledge of Islam. 

Then there is the question of the progress of techno-sciences, especially in bio-engineering, cloning, bio-convergence, informatics, biology, molecular physics, neuroscience and so on. All these phenomena are producing a different kind of man and so the challenge for the Church is the same as for all humanity: What kind of man does the man of the third millennium wish to be?

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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]yahoo.com.
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