February 12, 2012
by Fr. George W. Rutler
"After our Lord healed the mother of St. Peter, the apostles told him: “Everyone is looking for you” (Mark 1:37). That is still the case, even among those who feign disinterest in Jesus. It is so because, as St. Augustine preached, “Man wishes to be happy even when he so lives as to make happiness impossible.” Holy joy, which is endless happiness, is found in Christ: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that joy might be full” (John 15:11).
Mark Twain, not a religious mystic, said, “The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer somebody else up.” In speaking of cheer, he was tentatively approaching what Aristotle called the “supreme good” by which he meant “an end of action which is desired for its own sake, while everything else is desired for the sake of it.” Attempts to be happy, even facile efforts at cheerfulness (and being cheerful when you don't feel very giddy is a powerful evidence of humility) succeed only when they lead to the source of all happiness. The scientific prodigy and devout Catholic, Blaise Pascal, knew that people can make mistakes in trying to be happy, which is why he said that even people who hang themselves think it will make them happy. He also said: “What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he cannot obtain in things present. But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself.”
As true happiness comes from God, it is to be found through faith in Him. Pope Benedict has announced a Year of Faith beginning October 11 of this year for “renewed energy to the mission of the whole church to lead men and women out of the desert they often are in and toward the place of life: friendship with Christ who gives us fullness of life.” To prepare for it, the bishops of the United Kingdom have listed ways to advance toward true happiness: 1) Share with others the joy of knowing Jesus Christ. 2) Pray. 3) Celebrate the Sacraments regularly. 4) Love my neighbor as myself. 5) Use wisely the gifts I have been given. 6) Forgive others as I have been forgiven.
Mark Twain did not witness the Ascension, but his advice about cheering somebody else up was a spark from the immortal light of Christ as he returned to glory: “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:eight)."
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