November 11, 2014: Pleasure versus Happiness
‘God has placed the desire for happiness in the human heart in order to draw near to the One who alone can fulfill it.’ (CCC 1718)
Troubled by unclean thoughts and fantasies, I went to my friend and priest Father Thomas. We talked for a while, he asked good questions, and I realized what troubled me. These pleasurable mental wanderings blunted my love for real people, namely my wife and kids. I readily laid down my sin and shame and received forgiveness. I then aligned myself with the goal of being present for my family. Not a big stretch: I love them and am most alive when I actively do so!
Father Thomas said: ‘You are choosing happiness over pleasure.’ I thought about that afterwards and realized how right he was. For me, pleasure consists of grasping onto little bits of sensual nonsense. Happiness comes from being true to God and those I love most.
Real happiness involves sacrificing some pleasure. But the gain is Christ. We can lose our lives of vain pleasure in order to gain authentically happy lives.
Those paraphrased words from the Gospel apply to Christian service too. My friend Mike Nobrega has led Living Waters groups for decades now and is often tempted into retirement from such demanding pastoral care. I asked him not long ago if he would re-up once more for another year of Living Waters. He did not want to: a series of long quiet nights sounded good in contrast to the din of sexual brokenness/recovery.
Then he asked Jesus who responded quietly through His Word: ‘Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’ (Matt. 10:39) Jesus asked Mike to lose the pleasure of a free night for a happy one spent serving Jesus through His broken ones. We got happy together through our service. Jesus makes our joy full when we help others overcome vain pleasures through the Fount of all happiness.
We live in an age that defines happiness as the pursuit pleasure. That is a lie that leads to hell. The only way to heaven is the narrow way prescribed by Jesus. Ralph Martin writes: ‘Jesus makes clear that drifting along with contemporary culture will not lead us to heaven but rather to hell. Jesus teaches us that if we want to arrive at happiness—the fulfillment of all desire—rather than destruction (which is perpetual frustration) we need to enter through the narrow road and gate that leads to heaven (Mt. 7: 13-14).’
Jesus is the road and the gate, and we His people must remind each other daily about His true way to happiness versus the broad way of pleasure.
Please join us as we pray for:
Midwest Region, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Laura Leigh Stanlake – Coordinator: For strength and vision for Laura, for existing groups and to see new groups established.
Core Issues Trust (www.core-issues.org) United Kingdom, Michael Davidman: For continued momentum to ensure good ongoing pastoral care for persons with same-sex attraction in the UK.
New York City Diocese: Discernment for timing and team of new Living Waters group.
“Courage for Pope Francis, that he would ensure that the Church becomes a clear fountain of transformation for persons with same-sex attraction!”