Skip to main content

Eternal Happiness

You may know Fr. Dwight Longenecker from his blog Standing on My Head. He is a former Anglican priest who entered the Catholic Church thirteen years ago. The February 10 issue of the National Catholic Register has a terrific piece by Fr. Longenecker. He writes of his surprise to find two distinct “churches” within Holy Mother Church. The first the "church" focused on happiness in eternal life. The second is the group centered on earthly happiness.

If Christians put the pursuit of happiness in this life as the primary goal, everything changes. Suddenly the Church is not perceived as an army engaged in a spiritual battle, but a mutual self-help group in which people try to make each other happy.

Church buildings cease to be marvelous buildings transcendent with beauty that take us to the threshold of heaven, and they become functional meeting halls where the mutual self-help group meets once a week.

When the pursuit of earthly happiness becomes the driving force, religion becomes utilitarian. Whatever is useful for making one “happy” is what is good. Whatever is not immediately useful is discarded.

So, for example, what use is religious art or glorious church architecture? There is no immediate usefulness, so the images are pulled down, new art is not commissioned, and if it is, it must be crudely illustrative or didactic. In other words, it has to do something and be useful.

When religion becomes a function to produce happiness here and now, hymns become comforting, banal songs about us and our problems and how God will make us happy.

When the quest for holiness is replaced with the quest for happiness, the priest ceases to be an agent of God’s supernatural grace in the world and becomes a therapist, a social worker or simply an avuncular administrator of the mutual self-help group.

When religion is expected to merely produce happiness, then worship is stripped of mystery and it must become entertaining. When religion is expected to simply make people feel better instead of being better, no one preaches on the difficult or hard hitting subjects.

The pulpit becomes a platform for pious platitudes that make people feel nice, and the confessional ends up empty.

In the end, it is not only the confessional which is empty.

Do read the entire article. Lent is the perfect time to make sure our goal is centered on eternity and not just the here-and-now.


Popular posts from this blog

Parent Letter from a Catechist

I am going to be teaching seventh grade CCD this year. We do most of the preparation for confirmation during this year since Confirmation is usually scheduled for the fall of the eighth grade year.I have composed a letter to the parents to try and keep them active in their children's religious education. I thought I would post it here and get your feedback before I send it out in a couple of weeks.

I am privileged to be your child’s seventh grade CCD teacher for the 2006-2007 school year. This is a very important year. We will focus on your child’s preparation for confirmation. Of course, you have already been preparing your child for this sacrament for many years. You are the primary catechist for your child. You show how important your Faith is by making Mass attendance a top priority and by family prayer.

Confirmation is one of the Sacraments of Initiation. It is a beginning. It is not a graduation. This year we will work to solidify the foundation of your child’s Catholic Faith.…

Dispelling the Myth of the Travel Dispensation

One of the fun things about having a site meter on my blog is I can see which posts garner the most attention. I can also see how people find my blog. One of the most read posts from my two years of blogging is this one that discusses finding Mass while traveling. I would like to think this post is so popular because it is so well written. The truth of the matter is that it generates so much traffic because I use the words “travel dispensation for Mass”—as in “There is no such thing as a travel dispensation for Mass.” I would guess that nearly a dozen times every week, someone googles “travel dispensation for Mass” and finds my blog. I wonder how many of these folks are poor souls trying to assuage their Catholic guilt with evidence of a justification for missing Mass while on the road.

I know that when I tell my seventh grade CCD students that attending Mass every Sunday is a commandment (one of the top ten!) and not just a pretty good idea they are amazed. Missing Mass has become so …

United Breaks Guitars

This guy is really talented and what a creative way to get your message across. I think he captured the "indifferent employee" perfectly. They don't just work for airlines. I think I ran into them at Walmart on Friday!