Looking for guidance on how to live your life? Tired of the ordinary, hum-drum existence you call today’s life? Ready for a change for the better? Well if you are, here area some very special words. They were written over seventy years ago but they are as fresh today as they were then.
In the Introduction to his 1949 book, Way To Happiness, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen wrote these words:
These articles are written with a particular purpose, a special method, a deliberate spirit. The purpose will be to bring solace, healing and hope to hearts; truth and enlightenment to minds; goodness, strength and resolution to wills. The method will be the application of eternal moral and spiritual principles to the basic problems of individual and social life today. The spirit will be that of charity: love of God and love of neighbor.
And this preface will declare the basic assumptions of this book.
First: The over-emphasis on politics today is an indication that people are governed, rather than governing. The complexities of our civilization force us to organize into larger and larger units; we have become so intent on governing what is outside of us that we neglect to govern our own selves. Yet the key to social better meant is always to be found in personal betterment. Remake man and you remake his world. We gravely need to restore to man his self-respect and to give him his appropriate honor: this will keep him from bowing cravenly before those who threaten to enslave him, and it will give him the courage to defend the right, alone if need be, when the world is wrong.
Second: As society is made by man, so man, in his turn, is made by his thoughts, his decisions and his choices. Nothing ever happens to the world which did not first happen inside the mind of some man: the material of the skyscraper merely completes the architect's dream. Even the material of our physical selves is the servant of our thoughts: psychologists recognize the fact that our bodies may become tired only because of tiredness in the mind. Worry, anxiety, fear and boredom are felt as physical: mind fatigue appears to us as bodily fatigue. One basic reason for tiredness of mind is the conflict in all of us between ideal and achievement, between what we ought to be and what we are, between our longing and our having, between our powers of understanding and the incomprehensible mysteries of the universe. A house divided against itself cannot stand; this perennial tension in man can be accepted and made bearable only by a surrender of the self to God. Then whatever happens is welcomed as a gift of love: frustration cannot happen to us for we have no clamorous, selfish will.
Society can be saved only if man is saved from his unbearable conflicts, and man can be rescued from them only if his soul is saved. Once, not so long ago, men put their hope of happiness in material advance; now that mood of shallow optimism has ended; the heavy burden of worry and anxiety about the future of the race and of the individual has made men conscious of their souls.
Third: Our happiness consists in fulfilling the purpose of our being. Every man knows, from his own unfulfilled hunger for them, that he was built with a capacity for three things of which he never has enough. He wants life-not for the next few minutes, but for always, and with no aging or disease to threaten it. He also wants to grasp truth-not with a forced choice between the truths of mathematics or geography, but he wants all truth. Thirdly, he wants love, not with a time-limit, not mixed with satiety or disillusionment, but love that will be an abiding ecstasy. These three things are not to be found in this life in their completion: on earth life is shadowed by death, truth mingles with error, love is mixed with hate. But men know they would not long for these things in their purity if there were no possibility of ever finding them. So, being reasonable, they search for the source from which these mixed and imperfect portions of life, love, truth derive. The search is like looking for the source of light in a room: it cannot come from under a chair, where light is mixed with darkness and shadow. But it can come from the sun, where light is pure with neither shadow nor darkness dulling.
In a time when we need to have leaders true leaders to take us out of shadows we hear the words of Bishop Sheen, loud and clear. Can the truth of these words pierce our jaded hearts and tone death ears? Material thing will not do. Immaterial things will not endure yet these words have and will. Why? Could it be that they hit a responsive chord in our soul? Could it be the fact that people have not changed. Maybe they are looking for something? If this is the case please share these words today and you will see that you will be glad you did.