Friday, July 1, 2011

Bishop's Letter to the Young--Life and Happiness

What is taking  hold of  young people's hearts these days? Are they happy? Do they appreciate the proper place of happiness in life? Materialism and the search for pleasure are the issues the bishop of Suwon wants to discuss with the young.

His book, Life and Happiness, written up in both Catholic papers, discusses these issues. The bishop has a doctorate in Moral Theology and has published a number of books in this field, but this latest book is addressed to young people, in language that is easily understood.

The bishop is concerned that young people today are facing intense competition in all areas of life. Their capabilities and uniqueness are often ignored and, after entering a prestigious college and graduating, most will enter a marketplace where work is difficult to find.  He wants to help them, first by cultivating their humanity. For many of them, even before they become familiar with who they are and the beauty of life, they will be exposed to a false materialism that will inflict emotional scars--these the bishop wants to help heal.

We are made to be happy, he says, and the book is his letter of hope to the young, who will not be able to find the reasons for this happiness, he says, from the current values of society; he also shows why a faith-life is important in achieving true happiness.

The bishop faults the grownups for much of the problem. The older generation, whose values have been compromised so what they say about happiness is not acceptable, must change and return to basic moral values. There is little in the life of people of faith that distinguishes them from those without faith. If  believers are seen as such only in church  and yet  live as though without any religious beliefs, what meaning does religion have?  Doesn't the Church then become just  a social gathering? he asks.

Individuals and groups, for the most part, are not moved by virtue but by opportunism, subjective and emotional tendencies that are deeply embedded in society. And when parents are not guided by moral principles, when they are not convinced of the rightness of their actions, they convey to their children that truth is relative and all values are subjective. It is with the recovery of proper values by the older generation that the bishop sees the young returning to a happier lifestyle.

The bishop reminds us that life is like having a bank account. But instead of money in our account, every morning 86,400 seconds are deposited in our life account.  However, every morning, unlike money in a bank account, if our seconds are not used,  they disappear and another account opens next morning. This is what we are given in time, and it is up to us to use these moments well. They are God's daily gift to us. The bishop is asking young people how do they intend to use this gift.

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