Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Finding True Happiness
A seminary professor in his column in the Peace Weekly, mentions how he is uncomfortable watching the daily news. Repeated reports of brutal crimes, violence, corruption of public servants, preventable accidents, leaves him feeling angry and miserable. News that leaves a smile on his face, and a warm feeling in his heart are not easily found. In this kind of world the meaning of our existence is not helped by what is seen and heard.
With economic development our life expectancy has increased but also problems that we did not have in the past; prosperity is not able to solve the problems that arise with the increase in the numbers of the elderly. Our fathers and mothers are often being ignored by their families, and society, and left to live their last years in loneliness.
Foreign workers are here to help their families in their home country. Their lives in dealing with very inferior lodging, difficult working conditions and environment, makes their time in Korea far from happy. Our children also with the competition they face jeopardizes their relationship with their classmates, which doesn't bode well for the future.
The more material goods we have don't bring happiness. Life may be more comfortable but happiness does not come with comfort. We lose the meaning for our existence. The more we have the more we want, the more we enjoy the more we seek to enjoy. We learn that possessions are not what gives meaning to existence.
The professor as a member of the human race has the same problems. As a child he dreamed of becoming a priest: working for the poor and the alienated in society. He can now look back on 20 years of priestly life. What he is doing has little to do with the dream he had as a child. After one year as an assistant he went to Rome to study. Coming back to Korea he very happily was a pastor of a parish for one year, and then returned to the seminary to teach. He is now not teaching seminarians but ethics to the laity, and is responsible for the administration of the seminary.
Rather than being sent to preach the Gospel he is working with logistics and rational issues as an administrator. He can't help but ask himself is he happy in doing what he is doing. He thinks of all those without any belief system, who are dealing with the same problem: trying to figure out the meaning of their existence.
Catholicism, he says, "To these basic questions about the meaning and purpose of human life the Church responds with the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ, which liberates the dignity of the human person from changing opinions and ensures the freedom of men and women as no human law can do. The Second Vatican Council indicated that the mission of the Church in the contemporary world consists in helping every human being to discover in God the ultimate meaning of his existence. The Church knows well that 'God alone, whom she serves, can satisfy the deepest cravings of the human heart, for the world and what it has to offer can never fully satisfy it' Only God, who created man in his image and redeemed him from sin, can offer a fully adequate answer through the Revelation wrought in his Son made man. The Gospel, in fact, 'announces and proclaims the freedom of the sons of God, it rejects all bondage resulting from sin; it scrupulously respects the dignity of conscience and its freedom of choice; it never ceases to encourage the employment of human talents in the service of God and of man, and finally, it commends everyone to the charitable love of all' (Compendium of the Social Gospel # 576).
True happiness for a Christian comes from the belief in Jesus. We are changed by this happiness, which motivates us to want to change the world. "No, we shall not be saved by a formula but by a Person and the assurance that he gives us: I am with you! It is not therefore a matter of inventing a ‘new program'. The program already exists: it is the plan found in the Gospel and in the living Tradition, it is the same as ever. Ultimately, it has its center in Christ himself, who is to be known loved and imitated, so that in him we may live the life of the Trinity, and with him transform history until its fulfillment in the heavenly Jerusalem” (Compendium #577).