Mark Twain, not a religious mystic, said, "The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer somebody else up." In speaking of cheer, he was tentatively approaching what Aristotle called the "supreme good" by which he meant "an end of action which is desired for its own sake, while everything else is desired for the sake of it." Attempts to be happy, even facile efforts at cheerfulness (and being cheerful when you don't feel very giddy is a powerful evidence of humility) succeed only when they lead to the source of all happiness.
The scientific prodigy and devout Catholic, Blaise Pascal, knew that people can make mistakes in trying to be happy, which is why he said that even people who hang themselves think it will make them happy. He also said: "What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he cannot obtain in things present. But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself."
As true happiness comes from God, it is to be found through faith in Him. Pope Benedict has announced a Year of Faith beginning October 11 of this year for "renewed energy to the mission of the whole church to lead men and women out of the desert they often are in and toward the place of life: friendship with Christ who gives us fullness of life."
To prepare for it, the bishops of the United Kingdom have listed ways to advance toward true happiness: 1) Share with others the joy of knowing Jesus Christ. 2) Pray. 3) Celebrate the Sacraments regularly. 4) Love my neighbor as myself. 5) Use wisely the gifts I have been given. 6) Forgive others as I have been forgiven.
Mark Twain did not witness the Ascension, but his advice about cheering somebody else up was a spark from the immortal light of Christ as he returned to glory: "you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
Father George William Rutler. "Everyone is looking for Christ." From the Pastor (February 12, 2012).
Reprinted with permission of Father George W. Rutler.
Since 1988 his weekly television program has been broadcast worldwide on EWTN. Father Rutler has published 17 books, including: Cloud of Witnesses - Dead People I Knew When They Were Alive, Coincidentally: Unserious Reflections on Trivial Connections, A Crisis of Saints: Essays on People and Principles, Brightest and Best, Saint John Vianney: The Cure D'Ars Today, Crisis in Culture, and Adam Danced: The Cross and the Seven Deadly Sins.
Copyright © 2012 Father George W. Rutler