Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pope Francis' Tips for Happiness

The Holy Father recently gave yet another interview in which he stated his top ten secrets for happiness (see the English article here).  I've posted an excerpt below with my comments in red:

"1. "Live and let live." Everyone should be guided by this principle, he said, which has a similar expression in Rome with the saying, "Move forward and let others do the same." (Shall we let others live in sin without so much as a warning about their eternal salvation?)
2. "Be giving of yourself to others." People need to be open and generous toward others, he said, because "if you withdraw into yourself, you run the risk of becoming egocentric. And stagnant water becomes putrid." (So all those saints who retreated into the desert to praise God alone were putrid water?  One can be giving of oneself and still be withdrawn.)

3. "Proceed calmly" in life. The pope, who used to teach high school literature, used an image from an Argentine novel by Ricardo Guiraldes, in which the protagonist -- gaucho Don Segundo Sombra -- looks back on how he lived his life.

"He says that in his youth he was a stream full of rocks that he carried with him; as an adult, a rushing river; and in old age, he was still moving, but slowly, like a pool" of water, the pope said. He said he likes this latter image of a pool of water -- to have "the ability to move with kindness and humility, a calmness in life."

4. "A healthy sense of leisure." The pleasures of art, literature and playing together with children have been lost, he said. (I agree with him here.)

"Consumerism has brought us anxiety" and stress, causing people to lose a "healthy culture of leisure." Their time is "swallowed up" so people can't share it with anyone.

Even though many parents work long hours, they must set aside time to play with their children; work schedules make it "complicated, but you must do it," he said.

Families must also turn off the TV when they sit down to eat because, even though television is useful for keeping up with the news, having it on during mealtime "doesn't let you communicate" with each other, the pope said.

5. Sundays should be holidays. Workers should have Sundays off because "Sunday is for family," he said. (What happened to setting aside Sunday for the praise of the Almighty God of the Universe?)

6. Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people. "We need to be creative with young people. If they have no opportunities they will get into drugs" and be more vulnerable to suicide, he said. (I'm not sure one causes the other, but yes there is some truth to the old adage "Idle hands are the Devil's workshop.")

"It's not enough to give them food," he said. "Dignity is given to you when you can bring food home" from one's own labor.

7. Respect and take care of nature. Environmental degradation "is one of the biggest challenges we have," he said. "I think a question that we're not asking ourselves is: 'Isn't humanity committing suicide with this indiscriminate and tyrannical use of nature?'" (I do tend to be somewhat liberal when it comes to environmental issues, but I think the bigger question is "Isn't humanity committing suicide through widespread use of contraception and abortion?")

8. Stop being negative. "Needing to talk badly about others indicates low self-esteem. That means, 'I feel so low that instead of picking myself up I have to cut others down,'" the pope said. "Letting go of negative things quickly is healthy." (Hmm, I don't think one has to talk badly about others to be a negative Nancy, but okay.)

9. Don't proselytize; respect others' beliefs. "We can inspire others through witness so that one grows together in communicating. But the worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyzes: 'I am talking with you in order to persuade you,' No. Each person dialogues, starting with his and her own identity. The church grows by attraction, not proselytizing," the pope said. (Wow...all I can say  He's the Supreme Pontiff, right?  The holder of the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven and Earth, right?  The Vicar of Christ, right?   Wow.)

10. Work for peace. "We are living in a time of many wars," he said, and "the call for peace must be shouted. Peace sometimes gives the impression of being quiet, but it is never quiet, peace is always proactive" and dynamic. (I would add pray for peace to this one.)"

I find it horribly disturbing that the Holy Father lists a top ten secrets to happiness and not once mentions God.  How can man be happy without God?  St. Augustine said Fecisti nos ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in te--Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our heart is restless until it rests in Thee.  It seems that His Holiness forgot this quote. 

What the Holy Father has given us is a bunch of touchy-feely drivel rather than theological eloquence or sound moral guidance, yet again showing how much of an embarrassment his pontificate has become.  I fear a highschooler could have done better.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

World War I - 100 Years Ago

On July 28, 1914 Austrian troops invaded Serbia in response to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  The war would last four years, leaving millions dead and the face of the earth changed both politically and culturally.  The Russian Empire ceased to exist.  The German Empire ceased to exist.  The Austro-Hungarian Empire ceased to exist.  America asserted her power in a punitive manner, crippling the German economy and humiliating the German people.  Would that the great monarchies of 1914 had the foresight to predict what a terrible effect the war would have on the political landscape of the world, not to mention the loss of lives.  Perhaps one day we shall see the great empires resurrected like the phoenix from its own ashes.  One hundred years without these great monarchies is far too long.  One day.