Saturday, November 19, 2022

Full and Lasting Happiness

This week’s Collect prayer: “…it is full and lasting happiness to serve with constancy the author of all that is good …”  Doesn’t this sound simple and obvious? “Goodness” in the reality that I encounter is what awakens my heart. And “engaging the good” brings me a joy that is real, but that also points beyond the limitations of time and space and change that characterize all the various good things of life in this world. All “good” things whisper the “promise” of a Goodness that never ends, the Mystery that originates and sustains all the goodness, the being, the reality of things, the Mystery that is Goodness itself. Only this Mystery corresponds to the desire of our hearts for “full and lasting happiness.” 

But we are broken, distracted, negligent, inconstant people. The “Mystery” is so easy to “forget” —and we choose instead to grasp at limited goods and try desperately to “stretch them” to the measure of our hearts, or “contain them” somehow by our own power, make them not-go-away… so that their inevitable constraints, changes, and dissolution in time leave us in a prison of disappointment, discouragement, and sadness; or our frustration blazes into anger and we plunge deeper into our desperation and cunning, seeking more techniques and greater power to attain mastery over reality, to remake everything into a Utopia of “lasting goodness” even if it means tearing the real world apart by violence. We become monsters in perpetual conflict.

But is it not more reasonable to seek the “Author of all that is good,” to cry out from our ultimate poverty to the One who alone can make us happy? Might the One who is Goodness itself open up a way for us to “serve with constancy” this Mystery here and now, in this world of flesh and blood?

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). The “Word” — through whom and for whom all things have been made — has come to be with us on all the roads of this human life. “The Word” became flesh. “Beauty” became flesh. “Truth” became flesh. “Goodness” became flesh.