Ten Ways To Be a Happy Catholic!
The key to being a happy Catholic is quite simple: Place everything into God’s hands. With God everything is possible, and all suffering is eased by knowing that God is with us.
It’s important that we know that happiness is not the absence of problems or sorrow. Even when we suffer, we can experience the comfort and peace of God, and the joy that brings. A good rule of thumb is to do what God wants us to do. Here are ten ways of life to help make us Happy Catholics.
1 Trust in God
The golden rule: Whatever happens, prayerfully leave it in God’s hands, and be open to grace. That doesn’t mean you must be idle and wait for God to make things happen for you. On the contrary, everything we do requires effort. But when things go wrong, when life deals us a rough hand, know that God is with us, and he is bigger than any cross we bear.
2 Keep the Commandments
The equation is simple: the less you sin, the clearer your conscience, and the better your relationship with the Lord. Sin can weigh heavily on us and destroy our faith. By living by the Ten Commandments and the teachings of our Church, we minimise our exposure to sin.
We all sin, and as Catholics we have the benefit of the sacrament of Reconciliation. Make it your goal to make the most boring confession possible!
3 Read about your faith
The fact that you are reading these words suggests that you have already adopted this point. The more we understand our faith, the closer we relate to it. Read Scripture and explanatory texts (exegetics); read spiritually-enriching books; read Catholic magazines such as The Southern Cross, listen to Catholic radio, visit Catholic websites that seek to build up (and not tear down).
4 Be Generous
When the disciples saw the hungry masses approaching, they advised Jesus to make tracks. But Jesus waited for the multitudes, and then fed them with five loaves and two fish. The message is that in charity there is always a little bit more we can give: of our material goods, of our talents, of our time.
Pope Francis warns against withdrawal into oneself, because that leads to stagnation. And “stagnant water,” the pope says, “is the first to be corrupted”.
5 Live and let live
In 2014, Pope Francis issued a list of how to live at peace. First up, he called us to be tolerant. He proposed the ancient advice of the Romans: “Campa e fascia campà”, or “live and let live.” By this he didn’t mean that we should be ignorant of sin, injustice and suffering, but that we should not be unduly judgmental about what others do. Let’s sort out our own sins first. And always be generous in defeat.
Jesus commanded us to love one another. While this doesn’t mean we have to like everybody, the commandment precludes us from hating others on account of their race, ethnicity, nationality, heritage, gender, sexuality, religion, social or economic status, even ideology. Encounter everybody with charity of spirit, even when the same isn’t shown to you.
6 Let it go
Connected to the previous point, don’t harbour bitterness or seek confrontation where none are fruitful. In his apostolic exhortation The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis wrote: “One of the more serious temptations which stifles boldness and zeal is a defeatism which turns us into querulous and disillusioned pessimists — sourpusses.”
Don’t focus on what frustrates you and let the negative things slide. And don’t let cynicism, anger and conspiracy theories drag you into darkness. Importantly: be ready to forgive — also yourself!
7 Enjoy the silence
Pope Benedict XVI stressed the virtue of silence, of quiet time during which to switch off from the cares of the world, and tune into our spiritual life. Escape from the noise of the world and find an oasis of silence for meditation, reflection, and prayer.
8 Take time out
On the seventh day, God rested. Use Sunday (or your day off, if you work on Sundays) as a day of rest. After Mass, make it a day for leisure, companionship, adventure with the family, or just switch off with a good book, magazine or movie. Work can wait.
9 Cut the upgrades
Is it necessary for you to have the latest gadget, the latest fashion, the latest car? “Consumerism has brought us many anxieties,” Pope Francis has warned. Keeping up with the Joneses doesn’t produce happiness but only anxiety that we’ll have to upgrade again soon.
10 Choose joy
The secular world tells us that happiness is brought by physical beauty, good health, wealth, and success. But joy is rooted in God’s unconditional love for us, and it’s ours even when we are ugly, ill, poor or professional failures.
This article was published in the October issue of the Southern cross magazine
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