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God. Life. Spirituality.

Archive for September 2010

Salve Regina

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September 28, 2010 at 10:31 am

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Faith is nothing else but a right understanding of our being — trusting and allowing things to be; a right understanding that we are in God and God whom we do not see is in us.

Julian of Norwich

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September 22, 2010 at 9:29 am

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Happiness For Sale: $75,000

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In a time when happiness is being measured through Facebook and Twitter, it’s inevitable that we will see more and more scientific reports to help us find happiness. This one from the Gallup Organization finds:

“Emotional well-being (measured by questions about emotional experiences yesterday) and life evaluation (measured by Cantril’s Self-Anchoring Scale) have different correlates. Income and education are more closely related to life evaluation, but health, care giving, loneliness, and smoking are relatively stronger predictors of daily emotions. When plotted against log income, life evaluation rises steadily. Emotional well-being also rises with log income, but there is no further progress beyond an annual income of $75,000. Low income exacerbates the emotional pain associated with such misfortunes as divorce, ill health, and being alone. We conclude that high income buys life satisfaction but not happiness, and that low income is associated both with low life evaluation and low emotional well-being.”

This idea of happiness costing $75,000 reminded me of Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen’s book Development As Freedom. Perhaps in the United States, $75,000 is the amount people need to have the freedom to choose how to live their lives without worrying about their basic needs. Of course, Sen also says that while happiness is an important factor in assessing well-being, it can’t work as a sole measure for very practical reasons. Sen tells David Aaronovitch in an interview for The Sunday Times:

“If you’re asked how happy are you, the answer is exactly informative as to what you would say if somebody asked you how happy you are. It doesn’t tell anyone whether you’re really happy or not. People can get very discontented when they’re very successful. And the sad thing is that people actually do adjust if they’re very deprived. I spent 15 years working on famine and it’s amazing how happy famine victims are when they ultimately get a meal. But that doesn’t mean people are generally more deprived than a famine victim having a first meal.”

The elusive definition of happiness is echoed by Buddhist Matthieu Ricard in our show “The Happiest Man in the World.” In the audio clip above he reiterates the importance of making that difficult distinction between happiness and pleasure. Should, or can, happiness be surveyed?


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September 19, 2010 at 11:09 am

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Recovering the Skill of Neighborliness

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Research has shown that when we live on car-filled streets, our number of close friends drops by half. We eat half the meals we used to with friends, family, neighbors. Forget about the flax-swingler; our clothes come through the ether from the mysterious geography of Lands’ End. We don’t need each other anymore, and that’s the saddest thing we’ve done… The big question for this century may turn out to be how fast we can relearn the skill of neighborliness.

Bill McKibben

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September 16, 2010 at 11:51 am

God Always Forgives

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Photo by Forti Suarez

MANILA, Philippines – “A face that only a mother can love,” so goes an old dictum. With God, that should be rephrased thus: “God loves faces that even mothers cannot love.”

The image of a loving, forgiving God is illustrated in this 24th Sunday’s gospel about the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, and Lost Son (Lk 15, 1 ff).

God as the solicitous shepherd takes pains to look for the lost sheep. To search for one insignificant sheep leaving the ninety-nine is illogical and unthinkable, according to the principles of pasturing.

Shepherds never go after one lost sheep. They have greater responsibility for the ninety-nine. That single lost sheep represents only one percent of the flock.

Not so with the loving God “who came not to condemn but to save.”

A speaker once made an analogy. He held up a crisp hundred peso bill. “I want to give this away,” he said, “but first let me do this.”

Then he proceeded to crumple the bill. “Who wants it?” he asked. Several hands were raised. He dropped the money on the ground and crushed it into the floor with his shoe.

When he held up the bill again, it was now more crumpled and dirty. “Who still wants it?” he asked again. The same hands went up. “My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson,” he told them. “No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it. Why? Because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth a hundred pesos.”

Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the sins we commit. We feel as though we are worthless, like the prodigal son in today’s gospel.

But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value in God’s eyes.

Another important lesson we can learn from the parable of the prodigal son is willingness to accept our mistake and change. Yes, God will always forgive us but we should be willing to admit we did wrong, that we committed a mistake, as a condition for restoring our broken relationship with God.

– Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD


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    Do not fret because of the wicked;
    do not be envious of wrongdoers,
    for they will soon fade like the grass,
    and wither like the green herb.

    Trust in the LORD, and do good;
    so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.

    Take delight in the LORD,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

    Commit your way to the LORD;
    trust in him, and he will act.

    He will make your vindication shine like the light,
    and the justice of your cause like the noonday.

    Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for him;
    do not fret over those who prosper in their way,
    over those who carry out evil devices.

    Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath.

    Do not fret — it leads only to evil.

    For the wicked shall be cut off,
    but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.

    Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more;
    though you look diligently for their place, they will not be there.

    But the meek shall inherit the land,
    and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.

    I have been young, and now am old,
    yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
    or their children begging bread.

    They are ever giving liberally and lending,
    and their children become a blessing.

    Psalm 37: 1-11; 25-26

    New Revised Standard Version

    Written by MattAndJojang

    September 1, 2010 at 8:33 am