Pursuit of Happiness

In his book Made for More, Curtis Martin mentioned that “all our choices—including the evil ones—are ultimately aimed at getting happiness.” If you evaluate your life and ask yourself why you did certain things, why you made certain choices, and why you responded to certain situations the way you had, it would become clear that the answer to those why’s are aimed at “us” being happy. We all want to be happy. We all want to be constantly happy, but what if the path to our happiness causes us to drift in our service to our family, our church, and our community?

Last Saturday, we had a Liturgical Bible Study (LBS). This was a very fitting session for me because my mind has been clouded with worries, fears, and uncertainties of the future. Being a recent graduate, it is difficult not to worry about your own future because this is the real deal. I am no longer a student who worries about classes, exams, assignments, projects, papers, or presentations. I am no longer a student who wants to graduate to make my parents proud, to make my family happy, to make myself happy. I have already reached the happiness stage of a graduate student. But why is it that when we reach a certain stage or a certain moment of happiness, a new path to happiness begins? Why can’t there be just one moment, one goal, and one path to happiness?

We fail to realize that the happiness we desire is our search for the kingdom of heaven. Pursuing the kingdom of heaven should be our goal – our ultimate and only goal. All other stages, whether it be through graduating, finding a career, raising a family; it should be focused on our journey towards heaven, because the pursuit of the kingdom of heaven is the path to everlasting happiness and unimaginable joy. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” [Matthew 13:44] Do we possess the ability give up all that we have for the kingdom of heaven?

Now I leave you with this thought. I know it is easy to lose sight of the goal. It is easy to forget that we are made for heaven, because honestly this path is not an easy path. This world is not an easy world to live in. It will be bumpy. It will be hard. You will doubt. You will fail. The important thing is to keep going, keep pushing, and keep praying.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

Faith is Not Faith Until Proven

LIGHT

 Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.'” -Genesis 22:2

Merely saying that one has faith is God is different from actually having faith in God, which is the same as a person who “loves” another only during times of joy. It’s easy to love as long as things are going well. But when things are not and we feel like loving is too much of a burden, that is when our love is tested and proven. The same is true with our faith: faith is not faith until proven.

We’ve seen this throughout the Bible, where God’s people are constantly tested not to destroy them, but to strengthen them that their faith may be made pure. Think about God’s call for Abraham to…

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What’s so difficult about being Catholic?

According to George Weigel, “half of the world’s two billion Christians are Catholics” and yet you can never tell them apart from anyone else. Why is it that if you are in a secular place full of people, you would never be able to distinguish Catholics from non-Catholics (unless of course you have already seen them at church)?

There are 3 things (based solely on my own opinion and observation, and of course there will be more, but these are the top 3) I have experienced and still sometimes struggle in when practicing my faith.

1. People know it when Catholics pray.

Catholics do the sign of the cross when they start and end their prayers. Don’t you find it so difficult to start a prayer in public, because you’re afraid that someone might be looking? I rarely find Catholics in public who pray before meals at work, at school, at the food court. I rarely see the sign of the cross anywhere. I see it at church, yes. At home, yes. So why is it when we are in public, we are so ashamed of the cross? The sign of the cross signifies our faith. It’s like when you try to call a person, you would first have to dial their number. Someone told me that the sign of the cross is like God’s number–we have to dial first. We have to do the sign of the cross, because we show our faith. We show that we believe that our prayers will be heard. The sign of the cross is a sign of respect. Honor it. Do it. Don’t be ashamed.

Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.” || Matthew 10:32-33

2. Catholics pray the Rosary.

Before, praying the Rosary seemed forever to pray. Fifteen long minutes of repeated Our Father’s, Hail Mary’s, and Glory Be’s, it would drive me insane. I was born and raised Catholic and at home we would have our own family time before we sleep where we all get together to pray the rosary. We, as a family, have always believed in the saying, “A family that prays together stays together.” I remember a time when those 15 minutes of family prayer time were the most unbearable. My siblings and I would always find things funny during those 15 minutes, or would just repeatedly mumble the prayers as fast as we could so we could end it quickly. (Of course, our parents would always scold us for doing this.) I recently read in the book “Rome Sweet Home” by the Hahn’s couple where Kimberly stated, “Mary’s a warrior maiden who does battle through her motherhood.” Mary is our intercessor and praying the Rosary is a humble way of acknowledging Mary as our mother and having faith that Mary will provide to the Father whatever we ask of her according to His will. Just think about asking for permission to your dad and using your mom to convince him. Pray the Rosary because it is a powerful tool, tested and proven.

Woman,why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” || John 2:4-5

3. Catholics need to confess their sins to a priest.

Being sorry for our sins is one thing, but being able to confess it is another. When you’ve done something so serious, of course the natural reaction is to hide it. Hide it until you no longer can hide it. So asking for forgiveness to God in prayer is faith, faith that He will forgive us of our sins. Asking for forgiveness to God through a priest is humility, being humble enough to admit where you have gone wrong. Why do we need to confess our sins to priests when God alone can give us forgiveness, you ask? As Pope Francis noted, “someone can say, ‘I confess my sins only to God.’ Yes, you can say to God, ‘forgive me,’ and say your sins. But our sins are also against our brothers, against the Church. This is why it is necessary to ask forgiveness of the Church and of our brothers, in the person of the priest.” (I could not have explained it better.)

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. || James 5:16

Now I tell you these things, not because I find glory in claiming the struggles of Catholicism, but for you to become aware of the blessings we neglect to share to other people through our Church. Catholicism is beautiful in its own tradition and practices and sometimes we forget to practice those things that make us Catholic. Going to church is one thing, but practicing it is courage and a way of evangelization. “We need more contagious Catholics,” as the Hahn’s would say.

If we don’t share the faith, who will? I am Catholic, and I am proud of it.