Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Causes of Discontent

1. It is hard to find anyone in this world who is really content. Some grumble about poor health, others about not having enough to live on, other about an unsuccessful career. Some complain about the lack of sympathy and the ingratitude of men; other about constant temptation, spiritual dryness and the discouragement of frequently falling into sin. Still other are confined to a bed of pain for weeks, months or even years at a time. There are some, too, who must endure mental suffering which is greater than any physical pain. Perhaps they have lost a loved one who was the centre of their own life upon earth, or perhaps they are suffering from a loss of reputation, the result of some calumny or of some moment of weakness on their own part. In short, this world can be compared, to quote St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, to an unsatisfactory hotel in which we must spend the night while we are waiting for the breaking of an eternal day in which we shall be able to see God. He is fortunate who knows how to live contentedly or at least resignedly in this poor boarding-house until the dawn of that better life which is the only object of our earthly journey.

2. There are a few people in the world however, who are always content. They walk lightly upon the earth, for their minds are already with God in Heaven and their hearts are united to Him. Have they any anxieties or disappointments? They have, and they feel them deeply. But sorrow can make them bow their heads only for a moment, and then they reaise them cheerfully again. They understand that they are suffering for God, even as they live and work only for Him. Therefore their reaction to every sorrow or humiliation is always the same: Deo Gratias! If God wants it this way, I must be satisfied, too. May His holy will be done in all things. These people are the Saints who are never lacking in the Church. The Apostles rejoiced in the insults and ill-treatment they received from the Sanhedrin. They departed from the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been counted worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus (Acts 5:41). Do we desire to possess also the only kind of contentment it is possible to have on earth? Let us do our best to become holy. That is the only way open to us.

3. There is only one reason for our dissatisfaction. It is given by St. Augustine, profound observer that he was of the human heart: "You have made us for Yourself alone, O God, and our will always be uneasy until they rest in You." (Confessions, I, 1:1) If anyone rushes in all directions looking for happiness, he will never find it. The created things of this world cannot satisfy our hearts, which are on a far higher plane than they are. Worse still, a man may look for happiness in pleasure or in sin, but he will find only bitterness and disgust. Let us look to God alone. If we do everything for Him, a gleam of eternal happiness will brighten up our earthly pilgrimage.