The Formula For Happiness And St. John Paul II’s Salvifici Doloris

by Faith & Life, Jesus Christ, Meaning of Suffering, Morals & Values

Here’s an illustrative video on happiness. It’s simple and well done. It could be useful for starting a conversation on the type of “formulas” we find in our lives and then comparing them with what Christ teaches.

A few thoughts that I would add to the video’s message: The idea of the video is simple enough. The worldly formulas are fragile and won’t really satisfy us. The answer is found in the Bible: JOY (Jesus, Others, You).

As a Catholic, the Saints’ testimonies are fundamental. Many times the formulas come up short. They can appear abstract, especially in difficult moments. But, for myself, when I think of happiness, I look on the life of  St. John Paul II, I look back at the pictures of him when he is laughing, when he is crying, when he is young and vigorous, and when he is old and suffering, and I see something common in each one of them: joy. I see a man who discovered happiness and lived it.

The Formula For Happiness

Also, one of the most remarkable Catholic teachings for me– and St. John Paul II spoke of it in his apostolic letter Salvifici Doloris– is that our faith isn’t only some kind of joy shield that protects us and allows us to endure and get through suffering, rather it opens the way so that suffering itself can become a source of JOY, when lived with Christ.

Don’t let the radicality of this pass by so easily! When Saint Paul speaks of such joy in the Letter to the Colossians: “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake” (1: 24), he could be labeled a crazy man by many!

Nevertheless, “a source of joy is found in the overcoming of the sense of the uselessness of suffering, a feeling that is sometimes very strongly rooted in human suffering. This feeling not only consumes the person interiorly but seems to make him a burden to others. The person feels condemned to receive help and assistance from others, and at the same time seems useless to himself. The discovery of the salvific meaning of suffering in union with Christ transforms this depressing feeling. Faith in sharing in the suffering of Christ brings with it the interior certainty that the suffering person “completes what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions”; the certainty that in the spiritual dimension of the work of Redemption he is serving, like Christ, the salvation of his brothers and sisters. Therefore he is carrying out an irreplaceable service. ” (Salvifici Doloris, 27)

Read the complete apostolic letter here.

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