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10 Ways to Find Happiness this Lent and Always (Part 2 of 2)

March 17, 2015 by  
Filed under Book Club, Cardinal Virtues, Vicki Burbach

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The Four Cardinal Virtues (Week 11 of 12)
10 Ways to Find Happiness, this Lent and Always (Part 2 of 2)

This week we scheduled Part II of last week’s post, 10 Ways to Find Happiness this Lent and Always. But rather than try my very unworthy hand at imparting the wisdom of the ages, I thought you might appreciate a little direct advice from some of the greatest minds and souls in the history of the Church:

(Note: #1 can be found in the previous post)

2. Be quiet

In his book, Finding True Happiness, Archbishop Fulton Sheen notes:

The love of noise and excitement in modern civilization is due in part to the fact that people are unhappy on the inside. Noise exteriorizes them, distracts them, and makes them forget their worries for the moment. There is an unmistakeable connection between an empty life and a hectic pace. To make progress the world must have action, but it must also know why it is acting, and that requires thought, contemplation, and silence. – pg. 23

3. Set time aside for God

 

In The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur, the author offers sage advice in a letter to someone special:

Whoever wishes to lead a truly Christian life must first exert his will, and so regulate his existence as to put the most important things foremost. I think that nothing is more important in the use of our days than the time given first of all to God. It may be very short, as a few minutes are enough every morning for us to offer up our thoughts, deeds and words, and all that wealth of sufferings which becomes daily a source of grace to the souls on whose behalf we offer it. Five minutes spent in this way, and the indulgences of the day devoted to the souls in Purgatory, form a preparation for much good that will be accomplished subsequently unknown to you. Add to this ten minutes or a quarter of an hour devoted to reading and meditating upon some passage, and your morning and night prayers, and all together they do not amount to one hour given to God out of the twenty-four. Is this really too much to ask of so good a Christian as yourself? – pg. 192-193

4. Detach yourself Materially and Spiritually

 

Lent is a good time to let go of our material attachments. Attachment is not merely about setting our eyes upon the material. Attachment boils down to nothing more than selfishness.  In The 12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation, St. Alphonsus Liguori says,

Our heart cannot exist without love; it will either love God or creatures. If it does not love creatures, it certainly will love God. In order to become holy we must therefore banish from our heart all that is not for God. When anyone came to the Fathers in the desert and desired to be received by them he was asked: “Do you bring an empty heart that it may be filled by the Holy Ghost?” And they were right, for a heart that is filled with the things of earth has no room for the love of God. He who brings a vessel filled with earth to the spring will never be able to fill it with water until he empties it of the earth with which it is filled.  – pg. 73

5.  Release your time

 

Of all our attachments, time may be the most difficult to release.  My favorite passage in The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis is when Screwtape, a devil, speaks to his protege about his “patient” about time – that precious commodity of which we never seem to have enough (By patient, he is referring to the person who’s soul he is trying to win for hell.) :

Now you will have noticed that nothing throws him [the patient] into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him. It is the unexpected visitor (when he looked forward to a quiet evening), or the friend’s talkative wife (turning up when he looked forward to a tete-a-tete with the friend), that throw him out of gear. …They anger him because he regards his time as his own and feels that it is being stolen.  You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption ‘My time is my own.' Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours.  Let him feel as a grievous tax that portion of this property which he has to make over to his employers, and as a generous donation that further portion which he allows to religious duties.  But what he must never be permitted to doubt is that the total from which these deductions have been made was, in some mysterious sense, his own personal birthright.  – pg. 112

On the contrary, when we recognize that we are merely stewards of the time that has been entrusted to us to be used for God's purposes, it is amazing how we can use it to serve others, and even be joyful when God allows an interruption for His purpose.

6.  Be Virtuous

 

In An Introduction to the Devout Life, Saint Francis de Sales reminds us:

Reflect that virtue and devotion alone can satisfy your soul in this world; behold how lovely they are; consider the virtues and their opposing vices. How precious is patience compared with revenge, gentleness compared with anger and passion, humility compared with arrogance and ambition, liberality compared with avarice, charity compared with envy, temperance compared with excess! For one admirable property attendant on acts of virtue is, that they leave an exceeding delight and sweetness in the soul after their practice, whereas acts of vice leave her injured and enfeebled. Why, then, do we not seek to acquire such satisfaction? – pg. 307-308

7. Be humble

 

Can there be hierarchies of virtue?  According to Dietrich von Hildebrand, humility is “the wellspring of all virtue.”  In his book aptly entitled: Humility: Wellspring of Virtue, he says,

On the degree of our humility depends the measure of which we shall achieve freedom to participate in God’s life and make it possible for the supernatural life received in holy Baptism to unfold in our souls. “God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble” (James 4:6). – pg. 8

8.  Joyfully practice Mortification and Fasting

 

Wonder how that works? The following vow found in The Journal of a Soul, is just one example of how Saint John XXIII abandoned all to God in a very tangible way:

As much mortification as possible, especially of the tongue. I must always be ready to humble myself, especially when things go badly. Bodily mortifications are to be few but constant, and without excessive obligation. I will give up salt altogether; I will never eat fruit in the evening, and never drink more than one glass of wine. As a general rule, I will always leave untouched a mouthful of whatever food is set before me: wine, meat dishes, fruit, pastry, etc. I will never take a morsel of bread over and above the usual amount I find on the table when I begin my meal, nor will I ever mention it to anyone if something is lacking.  – pg. 95

9.  Do everything without Complaining or Arguing.

 

This Bible verse – Philippians 2:14 –  hangs above the sink in my bathroom as a reminder each day when I get ready in the morning. I can’t claim to have conquered this area, but I can say that in twenty years of family life, I have recognized the fruitlessness of an argument, and the selfish nature of a complaint.

In her journal, Elisabeth Leseur – a woman whose holiness resulted in her atheist husband’s conversion to become a priest after her death – prays to our Lord,

Thou alone canst make certain things understood; all the arguments in the world are nothing to Thy sovereign voice in the depths of the soul. – The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur pg. 18

10.  Embrace your Cross

 

St. Josemaría Escrivá advises us:

…don’t drag the Cross…Carry it squarely on your shoulder, because your Cross, if you carry it like that, will not be just any Cross: it will be…the Holy Cross. Don’t carry your cross with resignation: resignation is not a generous word. Love the Cross. When you really love it, your Cross will be…a Cross, without a Cross. – Holy Rosary: The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery

 

After all this advice, you may be wondering what 10 Ways to Happiness has to do with the subject we've been reading about for the past two weeks – chastity.  In The Four Cardinal Virtues, Josef Piper quotes St. Augustine: “Chaste is the heart that loves God without looking for reward.”  Hopefully each of the above will help you to do just that.

 

Note: We are making a bit of a change to the schedule – after completing The Four Cardinal Virtues next week, we plan to take a two-week break over Holy and Easter Weeks. Join us again on April 14th, as we begin our next book,  30 Days with Teresa of Avila, part of the Navigating the Interior Life Series, put together by our own Dan Burke and Anthony Lilles!! If you give a donation for scholarships for priests, religious, and the faithful poor at the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Dan will send you a signed copy (be sure to order now because Dan is a lot slower than Amazon). Just click the link HERE to make a donation. Otherwise, you can purchase the book on Amazon HERE.  (FYI – For those who have examined our posted schedule, we do plan to return to the original schedule and read The Confessions by Saint Augustine immediately after our 30 Days with Teresa of Avila.)

Reading Assignment:

Temperance: 8-10

Discussion Questions:

1. There are millions of recommendations that we could add to this list.  For instance, frequent participation of the sacraments is clearly critical to our happiness (In fact, I purposely omitted that one because in my mind it was sort of like when you go around the table at Thanksgiving, asking everyone to mention something for which they are truly thankful – the first thing you say in that situation is,  “And family is a given, so you have to think of something else.”  For Catholics, the sacraments are a given, so this list included several other recommendations.).  What other items would you add and why?

2. Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

Read More: http://spiritualdirection.com/topics/book-club

For More Information on the Book Club:  http://spiritualdirection.com/csd-book-club

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About Vicki Burbach

Vicki Burbach is a wife and homeschooling mother of six children ages four to sixteen years who relishes the calm inspiration of spiritual reading amidst the roller coaster of life. A passionate convert to the Faith, Vicki is an avid reader who started the SpiritualDirection.com book club so she could embark with like-minded bibliophiles on a spiritual journey through some of the greatest Catholic books ever written. She is author of the new book How to Read Your Way to Heaven - A Spiritual Reading Program for the Worst of Sinners, the Greatest of Saints, and Everyone in Between. You can also find her at pelicansbreast.com

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  • Andy

    While this may overlap with some of the other items on the list, I think that being thankful for all the things God has given us is important. I need to do this myself, especially when things go wrong in my life. Taking a step back from the situation and my feelings to really look at all the beautiful people and wonders of the world around me helps me to remember that God provides what I need.

    • Vicki

      Gratitude is a great addition – thank you!:)

  • Dom C

    Awesome post, Vicki–thanks for this excellent food for thought!

  • Patricia

    Fasting…..from a certain reaction or habit you wish to change and replacing it with an affirmation or prayer. Every time you catch yourself saying/ doing ______, replace it with something that changes your thoughts/mind.

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