Monica E. Smith

Monica E. Smith

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Finding Happiness

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I remember being drawn to Bishop Sheen's television program even as a child. There was just something about the way he spoke--with such love and conviction and understanding and totally without judgment, and as if he was talking directly to me; and there was just something about the words he spoke, that made me want to seek and understand and told me even then, "this is Truth and this is important. Listen.".

In Finding True Happiness, Bishop Sheen reminds us of when we were children, how happy we thought we would be when we had our fill, for instance, of Christmas cakes, our "hands glutted with toys", our eyes open wide and filled with the glow of Christmas lights. But Christmas came and we had overeaten, little by little the lights were taken down, the Christmas toys no longer excited us after a while, and then it was all over. And we began a new list of all the other things we wanted and didn't get that would make us happy. And we lamented at the fact that Christmas "somehow or other did not quite come up to ...expectations." And hasn't it been that way repeatedly since? And further, we think, perhaps, that marriage will make us truly happy, or a need to be well-known, or the perfect house on the perfect street, or the right job, or a big bank account, and on and on. But how many times when we achieve all those things we think will make us happy have we become disillusioned, disappointed, shocked, even so? Bishop Sheen reminds us that these things in and of themselves are not the source of happiness. We are reminded that the reason for our unhappiness is not because we want things "outside" of us, but "due to a want of something inside [us]". We "become so enamored" of the gifts that God has given us, we totally forget there is a Giver, attributing anything good in our lives to our own achievement, born of selfishness and pride.

More and more we remove God from everything. We are the be-all and end-all, and it is "good enough" just to be a good person. We do not believe because we do not understand. And we do not understand because we do not seek understanding, which leads to believing anything and calling "Truth" everything that "sounds good". Bishop Sheen tells us that "because we do not pray or contemplate or love Him, we become vain and proud; but when we know Him better, we feel a deep sense of dependence which tempers our false independence. Pride is the child of ignorance, humility the offspring of knowledge."

But Bishop Sheen also speaks of faith, patience, joy, our own will and more, and explains how all these together play a part in our happiness. And he speaks of contentment, saying it "comes in part from faith--that is, from knowing the purpose of life and being assured that whatever the trials are, they come from the hand of a loving Father." He emphasizes that "what happens to us is not so important, but rather how we react to what happens. Judas and Peter both sinned against the Lord, and He called them both devils. But one became a Saint, because he overcame his weakness with the help of God's grace."

Finding True Happiness could well have been written today--there is nothing obsolete or old-fashioned or trite about it. There is so much of worth in this little volume that it becomes difficult to summarize. It is a good book to keep on hand for reference from time to time, for when life begins to get foggy. I highly recommend it.