Lacking hope, we don’t really believe God can make us happy, and so we construct our happiness out of covetousness and lust. We don’t wait to find the fullness of our existence in God, and so we shape an artificial identity grounded in pride. Or else—the most common condition among people of good will—we would like to love and be generous in loving and giving ourselves, but we are held back by fears, hesitations, and worries. Lack of trust in what God’s grace can do in our lives, and what we can do with his help, leads to a shrinkage of the heart, a lessening of charity. But, as St. Thérèse of Lisieux said, trust leads to love.
The Christian doctrine of suffering explains, I believe, a very curious fact about the world we live in. The settled happiness and security which We all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the World: but joy, pleasure, and merriment He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and pose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.
In the Franciscan view, if we desire happiness then our hearts must be centered in God. We must find God deep within us. No matter how many material things we accumulate, they will ultimately fail to fulfill our desire for real happiness because the life of the “I” needs the life of a “Thou.”
~ Ilia Delio, Franciscan Prayer
Therefore, God’s will is the sanctification of souls. Always and everywhere, this is the work that exclusively occupies Him. It is the purpose underlying all the occurrences, great and small, which agitate in different ways nations, families, and the lives of individuals. It explains why God wills that I should be sick today, contradicted, humbled, forgotten; why He has prepared this happy event for me, faced me with this difficulty, caused me to hurt my foot against this stone, exposed me to this temptation. It is His love for me, His desire of my happiness that regulates all His actions.
~Dom Vitalis Lehodey, O.C.R., Holy Abandonment
In the little parlour of the Convent, Hercule Poirot told his story and restored the chalice to the Mother Superior.
She murmured: “Tell him we thank him and we will pray for him.”
Hercule Poirot said gently: “He needs your prayers.”
“Is he then an unhappy man?”
Poirot said: “So unhappy that he has forgotten what happiness means. So unhappy that he does not know he is unhappy.”
The nun said softly: “Ah, a rich man . . . ”
Hercule Poirot said nothing—for he knew there was nothing to say.
Agatha Christie, “The Apples of the Hesperides” via First Thoughts
Happiness is the sense of peace and joy that stems from knowledge of and union with the One Who created us and Who loves us infinitely. We will attain it fully in heaven, but we can achieve it to a significant extent beforehand by battling our desire to remain independent of God, ignoring the voices that label religion boring and unnecessary, and better acquainting ourselves with Truth through study and prayer.
~Mary Anne Marks quoted in “God and Woman at Harvard“
Into this universal human situation Jesus comes, saying, “Repent,” which means “change the direction in which you are looking for happiness.” Human happiness is found in the growth of unconditional love. The work of spiritual direction is to help us to become aware of the obstacles to divine love and the free circulation of that love within us. This requires the cultivation of a non-possessive attitude toward ourselves and other people. Gradually we learn that God is the true security, God truly loves us, and with this love, we can make it, even if no one else seems to care.
~ Fr. Thomas Keating, OCSO, via Little Portion Hermitage
In Jesus Christ, God has given away everything it means to be God, and has lavishly bestowed upon us every blessing of the divine life. And we are called to imitate God by wasting the best of ourselves on each other, to give of ourselves for the life and happiness of the other. That’s what it means to give up your life for the life of the world, just like Jesus does on the Cross.
Brother Charles, in his blog post: “The Gospel of Prosperity“