Monday, July 20, 2009
A meditation from our Maryknoller in Hong Kong Fr. John Cioppa, taken from his book In His Own Words.
I was reading an article recently that said the primary religious virtue is Joy together with gratitude. That surprised me. I would have chosen Faith, Hope or maybe Love. But the more I think about it the more I realize how correct that statement is. Happiness is the key. If God is happy and we are made in the image of God then we are made to be happy too. If I were asked what is the one thing that every single person in the world desires- there is no question it is "Happiness"! This is the basic search of every individual. "How to be happy?" "What do I have to do to be happy?" Some buy lotto tickets, some like expensive clothes or cars, others study the stock market, get married or watch TV. The motive of those who go to war or don't go to war or even of those who commit suicide is - Happiness.
True HAPPINESS is not a feeling. It is not perfect health or long life. True happiness is sharing in the life, spirit and joy of God. The saints give a clue as to what that happiness is. We often think of the saints as individuals who were flawless, pious, quiet people who spent much time in prayer, suffered a great deal and looked forward to death. Some may be like that, they don't seem very human. I don't like that image of a saint. Actually, I don't think it is even correct. I think the saints wanted to be happy just like you and me. They didn't search out hardship, misery and suffering. They were people who were compassionate, understanding , faced obstacles with peace and freedom, had a balance in their lives, a sense of humour and above all found JOY in all things. They had a deep appreciation of the beautiful things in life.
Look at St. Francis. He was a poor man but he was a happy man. He took delight in each day, in the flowers, birds, animals, food and work. He addressed the sun as "Brother Sun" and the moon as "Sister Moon". The saints were people who felt gladness and gratitude to be alive. They were people who were truly human and filled with joy. Like St. Irenaeus said, " The glory of God is man fully alive." Our bodies and the world are not obstacles on the path to God-they are vehicles in which we travel on the journey to heaven. We forget that God said all of these things are good, very good. The highest compliment we can give to someone who gives us a gift is to thoroughly enjoy the gift . The greatest compliment we can give to God, Our Creator, is to thoroughly enjoy the gift of life. The best way to pay for a beautiful moment is to enjoy it.
The saints are people who realized and lived out the fact that this world is not our true home. But they are also the ones who enjoyed life most fully.They loved God but if you read the lives of the saints you will even find that some where fat, had double chins and liked good chocolate. So let's enjoy life , thank God and join the communion of saints.