Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Happiness: The 11th Commandment

In the diocesan bulletin the head of the Salesian research center for the study of pastoral work with the young writes about the 11th Commandment, happiness; it is meant for the young, he says.

A priest from Rome who came to visit Korea some years ago stopped over in Tokyo and visited a high school considered educationally well-equipped. He visited one of the classrooms and was given the opportunity to talk to the students. "Are there any students who are not happy?" he asked.  He was surprised at the number of students who raised their hands. With such a beautiful and well-equipped school he was surprised to see the large negative response.

For the young, happiness is a fundamental requisite for growth, without it the young will, he says, have difficulty growing into mature adulthood. The priest writer, who works closely with the young, says he  is always pleased, and envies in a way, the joy he sees with many of the young: laughing, chatting and enjoying their time together. There is  no special reason for the joy but only a natural response to the quality of goodness they frequently encounter in life. When happiness fills our lives, he says, sin does not have a chance to enter, for we are able to work positively on our self-development. This happiness gives them balance as they grow into adulthood. Philip Neri, a saint from the 16th century, told the children to do what they wanted, provided they loved God and didn't sin.

Today there are too many things that diminish the happiness of our young people, such as the relentless competition surrounding college entrance exams, the lack of  freedom in the beginning years of education, family debt, and the lack of time to just play because of the pressure to continue studying in
  the academies, even after the school day is over. All this takes away the joy of growing up.  And the inordinate desires of the parents also make it difficult for children to be happy, regardless of how much or how little they study, which disposes them to despondency.

It was Don Bosco who considered happiness the 11th commandment for children. When children are happy they are spontaneously  open to exposing their souls.  It is then that the educator is able to convey more than knowledge, joining it with growth in human qualities.  Happiness is the driving force that helps children grow to maturity. And very likely we can expect that children who are not happy will become addicted to some false good in life. 

The writer feels that the reason we have so much addiction today is a sign of the lack of joy in the life of the young. It is said that the devil is afraid of those who are happy, for they are being drawn by God. And while they are in this state of happiness they can be moved by grace.

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