Did you know that the word “happiness” means “blessed?”
Neither did I. But when I heard this on EWTN Radio the other day, I remembered there are two translations of the Beatitudes. One version goes with “Blessed are . . .” and the other with “Happy are . . . .” So, I guess it’s true. The words are interchangeable.
Happiness, then, doesn’t mean walking around in some lithium-induced state of bliss. Happiness means earning or obtaining a blessing.
And whose blessing?
How do you get God’s blessing?
Avoid sin. Love God above all things. Love your neighbor as yourself. Receive the sacraments. Deliver the good news to all nations. Pray. Pray incessantly.
That’s the secret to happiness. Which means blessedness.
Freedom means being unencumbered in doing good things. It doesn’t mean doing what you want. Doing what you want is called license.
Ultimately, freedom is being allowed to choose your lord and master. It’s not the absence of a lord and master. Everyone always has a lord and master.
It’s the choice of a lord and master.
If you want happiness (aka blessedness) you choose God through Jesus as your lord and master. You literally surrender yourself to God. As in this prayer by St. Ignatius of Loyola:
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, All I have and call my own. You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.
That’s true freedom. Freedom to choose your lord and master.
The downside is that you have a lord and master. Some people don’t like hearing that. But it’s true. Everyone is a slave to someone or something.
And you could do a lot worse in the lord and master department than Jesus Christ. For example, you could be a slave to sin. Or a slave to work. A slave to fashion. A slave to money. A slave to a politician or political party or ideology.
Most Christians agree that without God’s grace we can do nothing but sin. By extension, if your lord and master is anything or anyone other than God, you are a slave to sin. I know that sounds harsh, but it follows logically.
What this means is pretty simple and pretty daunting.
Happiness comes from obedience to God.
You are free to choose your lord and master, and that choice is between God and sin.
I am trying right now to chain myself to God as my lord and master. But I have a little rabbit in me. I’m a runner. I run away from God. Then I crawl back. I crawl back in shame.
The last time I ran away from God was 2009. I ran to politics. I became a slave to politics.
Now, I’m crawling back to God. Trying to.
So, if you see more God talk and less political talk on Hennessy’s View, that’s why. I’m crawling back.
On my crawl, I’ll point out the ways society and government impedes one’s journey to God. That means there will be politics here. What I hope will be different is the end game. Instead of politics being my end game, God will be. Instead of writing about victory over the left, I’ll write about victory over sin.
I hope you’ll follow my journey. And join it. Join it by reading. By sharing. By commenting.
Let me know when I’m off the path running.
Let me know when I’m cheating.
Let me know when I’m being a hypocrite. (I often am.)
Let me know if you’d like to crawl back to God with me. Because happiness loves company.