Monday, August 19, 2019

What is Happiness?

The prophet David gives us an answer in Psalm 118:
I have inherited Thy testimonies for ever, for they are the rejoicing of my heart. (Psalm 118:111)

Once one has faith in Jesus Christ, accepts His teaching, has committed to living by them, then he will have a spiritual joy that will never cease. These teachings, when accepted with faith, fill our heart, promising a future life that overcomes our physical death. When death is no longer something to be feared, we feel an inner peace. There is longer need for anxiety. This is the force behind a self-centered way of being and is destroyed. We can then enjoy true happiness. We become embraced in His love. 

What is happiness? Saint Theophan says,
A state that rejoices the heart. Happy is he who is gladdened by everything that is in him, with him, and near him.
And what is the means to this happiness, he continues:
Take God’s testimonies, the decrees of God’s will, attested to by God Himself, with all love and desire, and abide in them with the firm intention to be faithful to them forever—and this will pour into your heart a joy that will not depart from it forever, so that the transition from one life into the other will be for him nothing else but a change of the joy of this earth to a joy that is never ending and indescribable.
This is the full message of Jesus’ message in the Beatitudes. Saint Theophan offers this summary of Jesus’ most important talk:
If you want to be blessed, that is happy all around—be humble, contrite of heart, meek, loving righteousness, compassionate, pure of heart, peace-making, patient and good natured.
The path to true happiness is not pleasure seeking, acquiring greater material well being or wealth, making more friends, enhancing the way we look, having a grand vacation or a fine meal. All these things may bring a temporary sense of happiness, but do not last because we alway seek more and more. True happiness only comes as Prophet David says, when we accept as our inheritance all the testimonies of or Lord. Filling our life in following them, knowing we will overcome death, our heart is filled with His grace and unending joy.

This message is given not just by the prophets, but also by Jesus, His Apostles and the Church fathers. This message is at the foundation of the Church and her liturgies and teachings. They are all geared to help us overcome our present way of life and to instead embrace Christ and His testimonies. With humility and passionate love of Christ, we will be blessed with everlasting joy.

Reference: Psalm 118: A Commentary by Saint Theophan the Recluse, p249

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