Pray, Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Thaddeus J. Kozinski Formal Hall, Shrove Tuesday, 2014 Jesus said to his disciples, ‘No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day. -- Matthew 6:24-34 G. K. Chesterton, considering his life in retrospect, said that he has always had the almost mystical conviction of the miracle in all that exists, and the rapture dwelling essentially within experience. Within this statement lie three separate assertions: that everything holds and conceal at bottom a mark of its divine origin; that one who catches a glimpse of it ‘sees’ that this and all things are ‘good’ beyond all comprehension; and that, seeing this, he is happy. Here in sum is the whole doctrine of the contemplation of earthly creation. --Josef Pieper God and happiness are the same. Man desires the bonum universale, which is happiness. The essence of happiness consists in the act of the intellect. --St. Thomas Aquinas Happy is the man who has everything he wants. --St. Augustine
perhaps all of us. Christ for His Father. into our hearts. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought. wants to give us what we need. but alas. God desires our happiness. as well as its relation to prayer and worry. and can do so infallibly. and thus to happiness. Tonight. then. we will be given all that we really need. But He also tells us to seek first to do God’s will.” Moreover. for He chides us as “men of so little faith” and enjoins us to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first and foremost. worry. you might be thinking that I am. and only then. prayer itself is the perhaps the greatest of the divine gifts we receive in this life. not worry. But as a philosopher who has studied about happiness in the thought of Plato.In the Gospel of last Sunday. that not worrying is not enough. for I am not a theologian. Aristotle. I am not going to say much about not worrying. ourselves. we pray to God at Mass for this gift. and that because I am good at being happy. prayer. and our neighbour. as we say “And free from all needless anxiety. as St. that that perfect fearlessness enabling us to cease our worry is truly a gift and fruit of the Holy Spirit. Now. John tells us that perfect love casts out all fear. Jesus Christ. and the love that is His own Spirit. going to talk about happiness. well. as “the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity. we are not perfectly in love with God. who. for then. Thomas Aquinas tell us. Jesus is telling us to pray. as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior. I am not going to speak too much about prayer. proceeding from both Divine Persons. is not only perfectly happy Himself. and Aquinas quite a bit. pouring the love of the Father for Christ. I would rather speak to people about things I am good at. After all. and even if I were. but the Spirit himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings. It would seem.”
. I wish. and more if that is beneficial to our souls. and worry too much. Therefore. by exclusion. for God is in control. for we pray so that we may be able to pray. St. for He is our happiness as well as His own. and for this He has given us the infallible means to Him. and so there is nothing we can effectively do to earn it or secure it for ourselves. But many of us. Jesus tells us not to worry. For the same reason. but is Happiness itself. and seek God. knows what we need. it would seem. To love perfectly is a sheer gift from the Holy Spirit. for I am not too good at that either. I would like to say something about it. In other words.
emotional. A gifts is something that cannot be earned. even if he wanted to. or an overwrought sense of self-sufficiency and ingratitude. and you had someone to give it to. If we have perfect love. virtue cannot be taught.In addition to freedom from fear and prayer. and you had the gift all ready to give. is also a Divine gift. an inability to appreciate it as a gift. let’s say. such that one can’t remove one of them without losing the other two. for we have God. We are happy. a liberal arts education. virtue meaning to him the perfect excellence and harmony of soul by which the Good is attained. and peace. happiness. but can only be received as a gift of the gods. both the cause and primary effect in our souls of perfect. God gives us the gift of happiness. where he argued that because there is no evidence of any effective teachers of virtue. which liberates us from fear—and on and on it goes and a divine. it would seem that happiness. spiritual. and therefore we are happy. planned for. If we are happy. who is Happiness. consider this: Have you ever wanted to give someone a gift. a pagan. If we pray. What’s left to say? What’s left to do? What does any of this have to do with Campion? Well. grasped at. which is to show Him perfect love. eternal circle of love. a happiness which we don’t deserve and can’t obtain by our own efforts. So. which is the fruit of union with God. or otherwise produced by any act of ours—gifts are out of our reach. secured. and happiness. it means we have experienced and have perfect love. we are enabled truly to pray in spirit and in truth. If we are free from fear. we will pray to God in thanksgiving and give glory to Him. or because of some intellectual. and if pray thus. worked for. came to something like this conclusion in the dialogue entitled Meno. we are put in touch with God. Plato. but you could not give it? Perhaps the reason is pride. anxiety-free love. because of. or financial indisposition?
. or disdain for the gift as useless and a waste of time. say. stolen. But if we are free from fear. or disdain for the gift-giver—whatever the reason—the receiver won’t receive your gift. we will be free from fear. And these gifts are mutually related and integrated. here we have three divine gifts: prayer. And how about if he can’t receive this gift of a liberal education. So. freedom from fear. Who is God Himself.
The most obvious provision for the effective reception of the gifts of prayer. for the right things. and all that we have to do is will it. The first precondition is that we exert our wills strongly and consistently. We are all in this position. happiness. “The essence of happiness consists in an act of the intellect. providing daily Mass celebrated reverently and beautifully. and communal devotions. and quite infallibly given the right circumstances.” And St. or “the whole good. once we know what it is. God. Allow me to explain. Augustine tells us that “Beatus est. and learn to know it intimately and profoundly. knowing the “whole good” and getting it. and so we ourselves are walking and talking gifts. frequent confession. that.In short. There are two preconditions that I can see for receiving the three divine gifts of prayer. “By willing it. we can dispose ourselves to receiving these three gifts deliberately. As not only the Catholic Church but also the pagan Aristotle teaches us. to put it briefly. Happy is the man who has everything he wants! St. freedom from worry. the giver of a gift is powerless to effect his desire of giving if the receiver will not or cannot receive it. knowing this end. yearly retreats. the power to receive or not receive a gift. and freedom from worry that are in our power to obtain or create. Thomas. who is the bonum universal. that is. a learning community in Christ. and happiness is the fact that Campion is a robustly Catholic college. qui habet omnia quae vult”. And therein lies the power of the receiver. So.” Thus. is happiness. is that in which our happiness consists. in the right direction. Thomas was once asked how one can become a saint. The relevance of this to Campion is simply this: Campion provides the right circumstances. the kind of gifts. a mandatory academic sequence in theology. we have some power here. following Aristotle. given the right circumstances. festive celebration of feast days. prayer. and quite infallibly. What does any of this have to do with your studies at Campion? I said before that we can dispose ourselves to receiving the gifts of happiness. The second condition is that we discover who or what in which this end consists. and freedom from worry deliberately. however.” is Happiness itself. paradoxically. and he answered in three words. can choose not to be a gift or a receiver of gifts. Campion is a veritable guild in the art of
. tells us that. towards the right end. and for others. for existence itself is nothing but a gift. St.
Within this statement lie three separate assertions: that everything holds and conceal at bottom a mark of its divine origin. A much less obvious preconditioning circumstance for happiness. for that reason. perhaps as long as or longer than the preceding framework building up to it. history. but perhaps. and science provoke God to bestow upon my soul divine gifts? An adequate and convincing answer to this question will require a long answer. literature. said that he has always had the almost mystical conviction of the miracle in all that exists. Here they are: G. and the rapture dwelling essentially within experience. and the liturgical and communal life provides the place to know. combining extraordinary profundity and complexity with simplicity and clarity-and an all pervading childlike joy and serenity. with a community created by and centred on the Eucharist. considering his life in retrospect. is Campion’s liberal arts curriculum. as well as to put this knowledge into effect by loving actions towards him. Campion’s theology classes teach the mind to know God. and to be happy. who in my opinion is the great teacher of St. the Angelic Doctor. mathematics. The other from St. and we can spend the discussion time fleshing it out. can’t but enable one to become a prayer neophyte. How can studying philosophy. but to know Him personally and intimately. and fearlessness. Theology class teaches you to know about God as He is in Himself. Chesterton. for it perfects the soul ensuing in the highest form of pleasure. what we call joy. and is the source of perfect happiness. Thomas Aquinas. depending on the intensity and consistency of one’s willing. that one who catches a
. and participation in its communal life ordered by rules and practices whose end is love of neighbour develops habits of virtue which dispose the will to love God. so. I think. can be gleaned from three quotes. or master craftsman. here I would like only to suggest a possible answer.prayer. journeyman. one from Josef Pieper. it is easy to see how Campion’s Catholic character provides the right circumstances to pray. not just about God. which is to say. as He is in Himself. not to worry. K. And virtue is its own reward. and in His image in our neighbour. The answer. Campion’s liturgical life teaches the soul how to pray to God. prayer. Thomas for twenty first-century man. the active participation in which. In short. more necessary to talk about. willing it!. so. Perfect love casts out all fear.
in others. for every creature’s imperfect and time-bound act of existence is nothing but a share in God’s uncreated. and we have judged it to be good. Here in sum is the whole doctrine of the contemplation of earthly creation. as well as true and beautiful. and theology for three years. Because we take seriously our obligation to sanctify the world through work. Finally. a turning away from Being itself. and God’s plan for man to which this whole is ordered. fear and avoid sin. of course. he is happy. then created reality. and here we are only following Our Lord. and fear God’s judgment for it. perfect. that is. all men. including ourselves. But when we know and love reality as it is. Even the real evil we see in the world. We study the liberal arts. but in some way embodying Him. being an integrated one ordered to and by natural and supernatural wisdom. we do not wish to avoid any of it! We should. When we know this creation correctly. through contemplation of Being and through Being to God. but only crowns it and makes it worthwhile. contemplating creation as it is. when we see that it’s “all good”. we see that all of creation is good. just looking at it in wonder and awe and affirming and loving its goodness as a participation in the goodness of God. to a certain extent. in all its manifold aspects. God Himself.glimpse of it ‘sees’ that this and all things are ‘good’ beyond all comprehension. and for His glory. a sign pointing to and containing in it. permitted by God for a greater good. If Chesterton and Aquinas are right. we have caught a glimpse of the whole. insofar as we can have it on earth. since. insofar as His infinite Being can be present to and imitated by finite. but precisely because we value them so highly. sin is nothing to worry about. philosophy. Now. we have nothing to fear. and when have they ever been wrong?. seeing this. and eternal act of existence. we dare to say that there is a world that transcends the work-a-day-world to which the world of work and toil and use
. And seeing all this. an act of existence which is identical to His very being. is an excellent apprenticeship into the contemplative life. as a plethora of signs not only pointing to God. and in ourselves is seen to have its place. is. Campion’s course of study. which does not replace the active life. Furthermore. with nothing escaping God’s redemptive power unless He permits it to escape it for the greater good of the universe. but sin is a non-reality. for fear is the passion that ensues in the anticipation of an evil that one wishes to avoid. and that. in its CORE essence. is happiness. not because we place no value on the servile and useful arts and practical sciences. The essence of happiness consists in the act of the intellect. created beings.
we draw the shape of the letter on paper. whether inherently useful or useless. but with a view to the idea we want to express. liberal education is practice for death. Our purpose in life is to imitate that Being whose very nature is useless. when we write. must ultimately be prayer. and all that we want to do. besides being eminently useful in training the mind to think.
. which is everything. So. We will. the only reality that can truly be said to exist for its own sake: Students must therefore work without any wish to gain good marks. not means. to use Augustine’s definition of happiness. not with a view to the shape. useful. according to His plan. To make this the sole and exclusive purpose of our studies is the first condition to be observed if we are to put them to the right use. be happy—at Campion. it is necessary to wish to do it correctly. Liberal education. don’t worry. as. to pass examinations. however. Underlying this immediate objective. which is to say. the imagination to create. with the idea that each one will help to form in them the habit of that attention which is the substance of prayer. without any reference to their natural abilities and tastes. our deep purpose should aim solely at increasing the power of attention with a view to prayer. for it gets us accustomed to seeing and knowing and loving as ends. the lips to speak.is ordered. the ears to hear. I conclude with the words of Simone Weil who tells us how to receive the gift of study and put it to right use: All study. When we set out to do a piece of work. to win school successes. applying themselves equally to all their tasks. after which we will do nothing but see God. and the eyes to see. for out of the contemplation of His own uselessness comes the entire universe of useful things. prepares us for eternal life. get all that we want. enabling the student to succeed in any field. as steps on a ladder to Him. because such a wish is indispensable in any true effort. pray. liberal education is all about giving our attention over to things because they are true and good and beautiful.