Taken from THE CATECHISM EXPLAINED
Written by Fr. Francis Spirago; Edited by Fr. Richard Clarke, SJ
with Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, New York, 1927
Eternal happiness consists in union with God, through the exercise of the intellect contemplating God and the will loving Him. If we wish to attain it, we must begin to draw near to it in this life. We must seek to know and love God. But love of God consists in keeping His commandments (John xiv. 23). From this it follows that:
We shall attain to eternal happiness by the following means:
1. We must strive to know God by means of faith in the truths He has revealed to us. Our Lord says:" This is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent" (John xvii. 3). That is to say, the knowledge of God brings man to eternal happiness.
2. We must fulfill the will of God by keeping His commandments.
Our Lord says to the rich young man: "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matt. xix. 17).
By means of our own strength we can neither believe nor keep the commandments; for this we need the grace of God.
To keep the commandments is one aspect of happiness and true happiness is being a follower of Christ and His Church which He instituted for our salvation:
Only the Gospel of Christ is capable of giving us a partial happiness on earth, for he who follows the teaching of Christ is certain to have peace in his soul.
This is why Christ says to the Samaritan woman: "He that shall drink of the water that I shall give him, shall not thirst forever" (John iv. 13). And again: "He that cometh to Me, shall never hunger" (John vi. 35), The teaching of Christ can alone satisfy the heart of man. The reason of this is, that earthly sufferings do not render unhappy the man who follows Christ.
3. He who follows Christ will have to endure persecution; but these persecutions can do him no harm.
St. Paul tells us that "All who will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution" (2 Tim. iii. 12).
The whole life of the Christian is a carrying of the cross and a suffering of persecution. Christ Himself says: "The servant is not above his master" (Matt. x. 24). That is, the servant of Christ has no claim to a better lot than his Master Christ. We must expect the men of the world (that is, those who seek their happiness in this life) to regard us as erratic people and as fools, to condemn us and to hate us (1 Cor. iv. 3, 10; John xvii. 14; xv. 20). To be loved and praised by the world is to be the enemy of Christ. The principles of the world are in contradiction with those of Christ, and the world considers as a fool him whom Christ declares blessed (Matt. v. 3, 10).
Yet Christ tells us: "Everyone that heareth My words and doeth them, shall be likened to a wise man, that built his house upon a rock" (Matt. vii. 24).
He who trusts in God builds on solid ground. The patriarch Joseph derived advantage, not harm, from being persecuted; the pious David was persecuted. first by Saul, and then by his own son Absalom. . From his own experience he was able to say: "Many are the afflictions of the just; but out of them all the Lord will deliver them" (Ps. xxxiii. 20). All the Saints of Christ have been persecuted, but God has turned to good the evil that their enemies thought to do them. " If God is with us, who can be against us?"
4. Hence perfect happiness is impossible on earth; for no man can entirely avoid suffering.
The end of the worldling is misery as we have seen, and the just man is persecuted. No one can escape sickness, suffering, death. The world is a valley of tears; it is a big hospital, containing as many sick men as there are human beings. The world is a place of banishment, where we are far from our true country. In the world good and ill fortune succeed each other like sunshine and storm. Prosperity is the sure forerunner of adversity. In life we are on a sea, now lifted up to heaven, now cast down to hell. Society is always sure to be full of all kinds of miseries, whatever efforts may be made to improve the condition of mankind. Vain indeed are the hopes of the modern school of social democrats who dream of gradually abolishing all evil and misery from the world.
Yet it is impossible to strive as a Catholic without the virtue of Christian hope. But exactly what is this virtue and how does it differ from worldly hope or optimism?
Below are links to three pearls in this brief sub-directory, all of which explain what Christian hope fully is; without hope we cannot attain salvation itself; but we must be on guard against committing the sin of presumption all the while not going to the other extreme of despair. This presentation is to assist us in practicing rightly the virtue of hope and to do so we must first grasp its implications for the soul wanting to be a Saint. The will to understand the virtue of hope is in itself a great grace from God.
Some of this introduction is my own, blended in a few paragraphs taken from the introduction of THE CATECHISM EXPLAINED.
for Catholic Tradition
August 15, 2013
Feast of the Assumption
Part 1 ------ Part 2 ------ Part 3