Now that all the Christmas and New Year's festivities are behind us, and our resolutions for the year are underway (still hitting the gym?!) it is time to spend some time together on our Christmas present: Matthew Kelly's Book, The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity. For the next weeks, we'll work through bits and pieces of the book, so that even if you cannot join in the actual book club, at least we can read the book “together.” And if you need a copy of the book, I saved a few – just drop by the rectory and pick up a copy. So far I have only heard good comments about the selection. Feel free to share your thoughts and insights, or any suggestions for next year's book.
(Oh, and don't forget our parish membership to FORMED. Go to: olphms.formed.org and register, for all kinds of cool Catholic content. Just as we strive to give our body what it needs for optimum health, so too we ought to feed our spirit what is truly rich and edifying content!)
In the first chapter of Biggest Lie, Kelly uses a neat story to make this point: if we get man right, we will get the world right. In other words, a genuine understanding of the human person helps to ensure a healthy worldview. Matt articulates a genuine happiness project for humanity. In chapter two, he shares some truths he has learned about happiness: Happiness and pleasure are not the same thing / Getting what I want does not make me happy / Happiness is found by embracing the present moment / Happiness is contagious. Next, Matt argues against relativism: the false doctrine from the world that nothing is true for everyone. It states my happiness is mine and yours is yours and no one can say for another what might bring happiness. These three points hang together.
If we believe that God created man, and if we hold that God creates with a purpose, then it follows that God created and ordered humanity to a specific end or telos. Human fulfillment consists in living according to that purpose, to be who God created us to be. Jesus tells us, “I came that you may have life to the full! The Incarnation opens a gateway to a new and abundant life in Christ. By contrast if happiness were hard to find, like a secret for each person to discover, it would be more like the rabbit hole from Alice in Wonderland than a plan we all can follow written into our very DNA, the fabric of our existence.
Despite all the searching and replacements for truly and lasting happiness (not pleasure) it remains elusive. The modern world wants us to think that happiness is for us to discover and piece together. That way, we buy and try all the stuff they are selling, even though deep down we know that possessions and even experiences (popular among the millennials) do not lead to enduring happiness or peace.
The secret to lasting happiness (jumping ahead) is a life lived for others. Live in love and sacrificial service. “Love one another as I have loved you,” Jesus tells us… one way of stating the happiness recipe. We were created for love, and true love (not according to the Beatles but rather as defined in the Scriptures) forms the basis of true happiness. But I may be getting us ahead of our author…. Let's keep reading.
May God grant you the fullness of His peace and love!