Freedom for Happiness
(Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1718-1735)
April 14, 2013 We all want to live happily; in the whole human race there is no one who does not assent to this proposition, even before it is fully articulated". "How is it, then, that I seek you, Lord? Since in seeking you, my God, I seek a happy life, let me seek you so that my soul may live, for my body draws life from my soul and my soul draws life from you". "God alone satisfies"". (CCC 1718)
"The Beatitudes reveal the goal of human existence. God calls us to his own beatitude. This vocation is addressed to each individual personally, but also to the Church as a whole" (1719). That is why the desire for happiness is not an individualistic one, but it must be always a concern for the happiness of my brothers and sisters.
1. Christian Beatitude
"The New Testament uses several expressions to characterize the beatitude to which God calls man: the coming of the Kingdom of God; the vision of God: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God"; entering into the joy of the Lord; entering into God's rest" (1720).
"God put us in the world to know, to love, and to serve him, and so to come to paradise. Beatitude makes us "partakers of the divine nature" and of eternal life: "This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent" (John 17:3)" (1721).
"Such beatitude surpasses the understanding and powers of man. It comes from an entirely free gift of God: "because of God's love and goodness toward us, and because he can do all things, he goes so far as to grant those who love him the privilege of seeing him.... For what is impossible for men is possible for God"" (1722).
"The beatitude we are promised confronts us with decisive moral choices. It invites us to purify our hearts of bad instincts and to seek the love of God above all else. It teaches us that true happiness is not found in riches or well-being, in human fame or power, or in any human achievement., or indeed in any creature, but in God alone, the source of every good and of all love:
-All bow down before wealth... It is a homage resulting from a profound faith... that with wealth he may do all things. Wealth is one idol of the day and notoriety is a second.... Notoriety, or the making of a noise in the world - it may be called "newspaper fame" - has come to be considered a great good in itself, and a ground of veneration" (1723).
Happiness and Beatitude are the keys to understand the first commandment: we must love God above all things, because God is our happiness and our final end, and nothing in this world can be compared with God, nothing can compete with him in goodness. "Only God satisfies". That is why the commandments are compared with road signs. Do you want to go there? Follow the signs. It is your choice.
The path to beatitude and happiness is indicated to us in "the Decalogue, the Sermon on the Mount, and the apostolic catechesis". It is a path, and we go "step by step, by everyday acts., we slowly bear fruit in the Church to the glory of God" (cf. 1724).
"God willed that man should be 'left in the hand of his own counsel' (Sir 15:14) so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him" (GS 17, CCC 1730). "Freedom is the power. to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one's own responsibility. it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude" (1731). "As long as freedom has [not attained God], there is the possibility of choosing between good and evil", of growing or of sinning. "It is the basis of praise or blame, merit or reproach" (1732).
Freedom is not given to us in order to do whatever we want. It is given to us in order to be co-workers of our own happiness. Other creatures attain their perfection moved by blind instincts or just by the physical laws of nature. God wanted us to be responsible of our salvation, to deserve our own happiness, to earn Heaven by ourselves, with our own work and his grace. Freedom is the possibility of becoming the heroes of our own salvation, with the grace of God.
"The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. the choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to "the slavery of sin" (Rom 6:17)" (1733). It is easy to see how sin makes us slaves, when we look at the experience of addictions, or of simple bad habits. We may find ourselves doing things we would not like to do, but we cannot or we find it very difficult to overcome our bad tendencies. This is the slavery of sin, one aspect of it. That is why sin is possible because of freedom, but it doesn't make you free, but makes you a slave.
May God grant us true freedom. Freedom to choose always what we really want, which is happiness. Freedom to choose always what is truly good. Freedom from human respect, freedom from our bad tendencies, freedom from worldly attachments. We don't want to be mastered by fear of what others will say; we don't want to be mastered by the blind force of an addiction; we don't want to be mastered by the desire of something that is lesser than ourselves. We want to be free. God is not only our master, but he is our love and true happiness, and a Christian begins to be truly happy when he follows the commandments not as an imposition, but as an indication of the way to the true happiness. May God grant us true freedom. May God grant us to be the heroes of our own salvation.