True happiness on earth consists in being forgotten and in remaining completely ignorant of created things. I understood that all we accomplish, however brilliant, is worth nothing without love. – St. Thérèse of Lisieux
As Catholics, we understand that true happiness is not about finding success, money, or power, but involves genuine fulfillment and contentment through a deep, loving, and personal relationship with Almighty God. Only the Lord can fill the God-shaped hole in our hearts that we often attempt to fill with things of the material world believing that they will grant us complete and total satisfaction. But the truth is that only God can bring us a meaningful and profound deep-seated sense of real and authentic happiness.
St. John Vianney has said:
I love You, O my God, and my only desire is to love You until the last breath of my life. I love You, O my infinitely lovable God, and I would rather die loving You, than live without loving You. I love You, Lord and the only grace I ask is to love You eternally…My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love You, I want my heart to repeat it to You as often as I draw breath.
We seek true happiness by experiencing God’s love, especially by receiving the sacraments gifted to us through the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
One of the most significant and memorable moments in my faith journey was the day of my First Holy Communion. It was a time of great excitement and anticipation, as I prepared to receive the Sacred Host for the first time as a Catholic. As a seven year old I found it both awe-inspiring and humbling to comprehend that I was about to experience this profound encounter with Christ for the first time in the form of simple bread. I was going to receive the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist amongst the Communion of Saints.
I recall during the Mass, my heart raced with excitement and nervousness as I approached the altar to receive the Eucharist. At that moment it was only the priest and me standing before the entire congregation, and I remember his gentle smile as he said, “The Body of Christ.” I replied, “Amen,” with a sense of reverence and gratitude as he placed the consecrated host upon my tongue.
As I consumed the Sacred Host, a profound sense of indescribable joy washed over me. It was a moment of intimate communion with Jesus, and I felt His love and presence radiating outward from my heart. In that holy moment, I knew that I was partaking in something amazing, beyond the totality of human comprehension. St. John Damascene once said, “The Eucharist is a fire which inflames us,” and on that day it very much felt that way deep within my soul.
As we venture through life we turn to prayer, often during times of trials and tribulations. It is in those moments of challenge and hardship that we can find happiness in our suffering. It is much easier said than done because in the difficult moments of our lives we can feel alone and even abandoned, but the truth is that we have a loving Father who walks beside us, and supports us through both the ups and downs of life.
I recall a story by a young woman who was an atheist before becoming a Catholic. She was working at her school as a teacher when her best friend, another teacher, texted her while she was tutoring students after hours. The young woman figured she could simply text her later, but the later never came because her close friend died in a car accident on the way home from work that day. She hit rock bottom, but exclaimed how when she fell into the pit of hopelessness and despair she somehow found God through prayer. As an atheist this was a foreign concept to her, but as she described it, “I had nowhere to turn, but to look up,” and it was in this horrible tragedy that she found happiness. She found God Who led her home to the Catholic Church.
Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament … There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth. – J R R Tolkien
True happiness as a Catholic is not a surface level kind of happiness, one that you feel when you win a race and receive a medal or receive a promotion at work with a salary increase. It is about finding a lasting joy in living a life striving towards following the Will of God with the ultimate goal of infinite happiness in heaven with the Blessed Trinity. It is a journey of discovering purpose, peace, and fulfillment in the midst of life’s ups and downs through trust in God’s love and providence.