Happiness in this life

BREAKTHROUGH By Elfren S. Cruz

For those who are seeking a path to true happiness in this world, I would highly recommend that they read a recently published book : Happiness In This Life : A Passionate Meditation on Earthly Existence by Pope Francis, translated from the Italian by Oonagh Stransky, published 2017 by Random House, New York.

The book is a collection of homilies, speeches and “messages of the day” that bring together Pope Francis’s wisdom on finding happiness in the here and now. Here is a brief description of the book from its publishers.

“For Pope Francis, the appreciation of our everyday lives is a spiritual undertaking. Joy is a divine attribute and creating joy around us is an essential part of faith. Every homily and speech in this book delivers, in warm, engaging language accessible to believers and non-believers  alike, a key lesson instructing readers on finding love and happiness in a chaotic world.... The core idea of Pope Francis’s papacy – mercy, support for marginalized people and diplomacy – shine through. The book is divided into four parts.

Part 1: Your search for a meaningful life

This part is divided into three topics: Dreams and Plans for the Future, The Secret of Life, and Free and Liberated People. Among the many essays in this first part, one is titled Today Takes Courage: “Today is a time for action and a time for courage. We need courage to steady our wavering steps, to recapture the enthusiasm of devoting ourselves to the Gospel to recover confidence in our mission and the strength it brings. This is a time for courage, although courage alone does not guarantee success. We need courage in order to fight, but not to win in order to proclaim, but not necessarily to convert. We need courage to find alternatives without ever becoming polemical or aggressive. We must have courage in order to open ourselves up to the world, diminishing neither the wholeness nor the uniqueness of Christ the Savior. Courage is required in order to resist scepticism, yet without becoming arrogant. Today we must have the courage of the tax collector in the Gospel, who humbly did not dare even to raise his eyes to Heaven, but beat his breast saying “God be merciful to me a sinner!” Today is the day for courage! Today courage is needed!”

Part 2: You and others: Happiness in your relationships

The topics included in this part are: Let Your Light be Contagious; The Family Life’s Bounty; Successful Lives: When the Lord’s Call is Answered With Joy; The Blessings and Challenges of Womanhood. Among the many essays in this part, one is titled: What kind of Man or Woman do you want to become: Selfish or Fraternal? “True Fraternal Love wins out over individual selfishness because selfishness prevents us from living in freedom and harmony. Such selfishness develops socially – through corruption which is widespread today, or through the formation of criminal gangs to ones organized on a global scale. These groups undermine legality and justice and strike at the very heart of human dignity.

These organizations gravely offend God, they harm our brothers, and they harm creation – all the more so if they have religious overtones.

I think of the heartbreaking drug abuse crisis, which profits in defiance of all moral and civil laws. I think of the devastation of natural resources, of the constant pollution, and tragedy of the exploitation of labor. I think of illicit money trafficking and financial speculation, which often prey and cripple entire economies and nations, exposing millions of men and women to poverty. I think of prostitution which every day claims fresh victims, especially the young, robbing them of their future. I think of the abomination of human trafficking, the crime and abuses against minors, the horrors of slavery still present in many parts of the world, of the frequently overlooked tragedy of migrants who are often victims of disgraceful and illegal manipulation.“

Part 3. A hundredfold reward – plus suffering

In this partthree topics are covered:  Beyond Tears and Loneliness; From Errors to Forgiveness; A Hundred Eternities. Among the many essays in this part, here is one titled “ He Knows Better Than We Do.” “ We ask the Lord for life, health, love, happiness...and it is right to do so, but we have to remember that God can bring life from death, which is to say we can experience peace even in sickness, calm even in solitude and joy even in tears. It is not for us to teach God what do, to tell Him what we need. He knows better than we do. And we must have faith because His ways and His thoughts are different from ours.”

Part 4. Those who pray live serenely

There are two topics in this Part: Prayer Completes Us; and, Pope Francis’s Prayers for a Fulfilling Life. One essay is titled: There are Many Different Ways to Pray as There are People:

“There are many different ways to pray for our neighbour. All of them are valid and accepted by  God if they come from the heart ...I am also thinking of the prayers for the sick, when we visit them and pray for them, of silent intercession at times tearful in the many difficult situations that require prayers.” 

Among the many prayers that Pope Francis includes in this book, my favorite is Saint Faustina’s Prayer. This is a book that should be read by anyone who is seeking a path to happiness in this life.

Creative writing classes for kids/teens and adults

Young Writers’ Hangout on February 10 & 24, March 3 & 17, April 7, 14, 21 & 28 (1:30pm-3pm; independent sessions); Fiction Writing for Adults with Sarge Lacuesta on March 10 (1:30 pm-4:30 pm) at Fully Booked BGC. For details and registration contact 0945-2273216 or writethingsph@gmail.com.

Email: elfrencruz@gmail.com

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