Independence Day Reflection: Life, Liberty and The Pursuit of Happiness
it like? What does happiness that flows directly from God, an infinitely powerful Being who is life itself, into the very depths of our soul, feel like? What might such a powerful encounter with God's love do to us? To be sure, it is life changing. Additionally, we learn from the saints that it cannot be characterized simply as a feeling of pleasure or security or satisfaction or tranquility, or even all of these put together. It is far more. Take all the pleasurable experiences in life and fashion them into one event: it would seem as nothing compared to God's favorable gaze upon the soul for even a single instant. A tremendous, unforgettable and fiery love is ignited in the human spirit with but one sudden, unexpected Divine glance -- an incomparable love of such depth that all the treasures of the world become less than rusted iron.
St. Thérèse of Lisieux speaks of an encounter she had with Christ after a period of voluntary mortification she underwent in order to cleanse herself of less than heavenly desires. "God did for me what Ezechiel reports in his prophecies: Passing by me, Jesus saw that the time had come for me to be loved, He entered into a covenant with me and I became His own. He spread his mantle over me, he washed me with precious perfumes, He reclothed me in embroidered robes, He gave me priceless necklaces and ornaments. He nourished me with purest flour, with honey and oil in abundance. Then I became beautiful in His eyes and He made me a mighty queen" (Story of a Soul 101).
Indeed, divinely infused happiness can be experienced right now. Scripture is filled with numerous references indicating we have access in the present to the love of God, to the consolations of the Spirit and to an infused joy that permeates the soul as a heavenly dew. The love of God is not something to be had only later, after a long life of deprivation and suffering, for our personal God seeks to lift us on divine arms, sweep us into his very life, and caress us in the sweet waters of tenderness. "See, I come quickly; I have my reward in hand" (Revelation 22:12).
"All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!" ( Isaiah 55:1 ). The journey toward human fulfillment is found in Christ, whose love supplies both our strength and our thirst, for the Lamb is our shepherd who leads us to springs of living waters (Revelation 7:17 ).
Christ gave of himself as an infinite gift of love for all people, past, present and future. What remains to be seen, is whether we will reciprocate that love, for Christ gives his greatest favors only to those who give themselves completely to him. In the first place, this means living a moral life of virtue and holiness, characterized by diligent and sincere fidelity to God and his teaching presented through the Church. Unfortunately, many brethren, thinking access to the divine treasures of love can be had by halfhearted measures, and who even exhibit a spirit of willful dissent from holy mother Church, fail to understand the meaning of obedience of faith in loving freedom. To have faith in Christ is to assent fully with both intellect and will to all his words and deeds, including whatsoever he has ordained through his Church for our own good. Obviously, it is necessary to believe the Church and adhere to her divinely instituted teachings on faith and morals.
Giving oneself to Christ is, of course, not easy; for it is a disciplined, prayerful and sacramental way of life opposed to the ways of the world, involving the whole man, both interiorly and exteriorly. "To be in Christ means being a completely new creature. Everything of the old is gone, now everything is made anew" (2 Cor. 5:17). Regardless of the difficulties involved, take courage and remember they are temporary; for as we share in Christ's suffering so too will we share abundantly in his divine glory (Rom. 8:17; 2 Cor. 1:5).
On this Independence Day, it is important to reflect on what it means to seek life, liberty and happiness. While it is safe to say everyone desires these goods, not everyone understands where they are found. In fact, it is not even a question of where they are found, but in Whom they are found: "I am the way and the truth and the life" (Jn 14:6). Do we see beyond the present into the window of eternity? Do we truly desire above all else to love God for his sake, to become his child, and to live as a member of the divine family? These are the gifts God offers to man. These are the gifts the Church presents, as the sacrament of salvation, to the world, in order that the world may be brought to Christ.
F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer who knows his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever receive. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at catholicpathways.com
- - -
Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, perfect happiness, the goal of human nature, human fulfillment, Declaration of Independence, the life of faith in Christ, Christ, divine family, F. K. Bartels
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More U.S. News
- Court sides with Obama, Osama death photos can remain secret - for your own good
- In the Wake of the Moore Tornado: What Can we Learn from the Disaster?
- US Supreme Court Accepts Religion Case: Will Legislative Prayer Survive Religious Censorship?
- Two Oklahoma men killed in tornadoes; Kansas, Iowa batten down for severe weather
- Supreme Court to decide if prayer before town meeting is permissible
- All survive terrifying plane 'belly landing' in Newark
- Nebraska Bishop: Gosnell clinic was 'reminiscent of Auschwitz'
- Why even if you lose, playing Powerball isn't such a bad bet after all
- Cheap cigarette outlets in U.S. may be funding terrorists
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?