“…Let us bury … (our sins) as Our Lord has done.” (Saint Padre Pio).
The other day I read a silly little article in an online newspaper about an Australian celebrity who was interviewed saying that she loved her ex-husband’s new girlfriend. In the article, the celebrity was quoted as saying, “I just feel so happy that … (the ex-husband) found someone that makes him happy, because at the end of the day, for … (our son) to have a happy father and a happy mother is the most important thing.”
Now I do not often pay attention to what celebrities say. After all, for the most part, such people are celebrated for their musical, modelling or acting talents rather than for their wit, rhetoric, intelligence or morality. In fact – though I am generalising now – many celebrities live lives that are a social and moral mess, and one would be short-sighted indeed to heed their advice!
But this particular comment really struck me when I read it the other day, not for its wisdom – for it is a sadly flawed idea – but for the sad misunderstanding of the speaker.
“Happiness” is what she said is the “most important thing”!
Now I understand that the woman being quoted in that article has lived through the breakdown of her marriage and has had to manage sharing her child with her ex-husband (his father) and that she has most likely endured a period of unspeakable sadness – which is the typical reaction to divorce. And so, it is not with judgement on her as a person that I reflect, but rather with judgement on the values supported by our society.
Happiness… Sadly, happiness, is rather a fleeting goal, though it can be easily achieved…
A friend of my mother’s told her when a bank has been robbed, the first thing the counsellors so when they attend the site is to offer the victims chocolate, so that they can boost their blood sugar and help them to handle the shock. I do not know the truth of such a statement – I am no expert – but what I do know for sure is that I usually feel terribly happy after I consume a huge block of my favourite chocolate! So, I guess for many people food and sugar can make us feel a little bit happy.
Other things can make us happy too. After all, we can feel happy during the first few weeks of a romantic relationship. It is exciting to know that someone finds us attractive and wants to spend time with us. Some would say it is a heady feeling! But that feeling does not last. After all, eventually the two humans in that relationship will argue, possibly even fight, and that will not be a happy time for them at all. Sometimes it will be such a terrible time, that the two will agree to end their relationship because they know that they cannot be happy together at all, and sometimes they will work through their problems and the relationship will become happier once again – though never with the same simplicity that existed before the fight.
John Nash is an American mathematician and economist who won a Nobel Prize in 1994 for his contribution to knowledge in the area of non-cooperative game theory. Basically, Nash’s theory extends upon Adam Smith’s market economy theory of self-interested action in competition. Adam Smith theorised that to get the best result for the economy, each member of that economy must act in their own best self-interests. However, Nash recognised the shortfall in this theory and extended Smith’s theory, to say that to get the best result for the economy, each member of that economy must act in their own best self-interests AND in the best interests of each other. It is a small modification, but it makes a world of difference in reality.
You see, in many ways, in our search for happiness, we have lost that deeper understanding of results… In generations past, people in relationships concentrated on the health and happiness of the relationship, they focused on their happiness and the happiness of the relationship itself. But these days, things are mostly different. These days society tells us that we should focus on our individual happiness and health and end the relationship where the relationship is not successful. This can be a problem…
After all, if each member of a relationship is seeking their self-interested happiness, none of them will ever look out for the interests of the relationships itself and the relationship is more likely to fail.
And so, as I reflect on the words of that celebrity which I read the other day, I compare them to those of the Saints…
Saint John Vianney said, “Oh how I like those little mortifications that are seen by nobody, such as rising a quarter of an hour sooner, rising a little while in the night to pray.”
The Saints seek out suffering – for they know the value of pain… And when they fail and the world is too hard for them, they “run with confidence to the tribunal of penance where He waits for you at all times with the anxiety of a father; and although we are conscious of our debt towards Him, let us not doubt the solemn pardon of our sins. Let us bury them as Our Lord has done.” (Saint Padre Pio).
For one day, just as our sins are buried, so too will our happiness be. For we were not born for mere happiness – we were born for pure JOY – which can be found only through the suffering of the Cross… After which all sin was buried – far below us – where it belongs.
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.