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Holiness and Happiness

Most Holy Trinity 2005
                                                     
Letter to myself and to Whomever it may interest

My Dear,
May the Holy Spirit unite us ever more with the Son to the Father.

I write this letter to you on the occasion of your feast day, the solemnity of the Blessed Trinity; it is a double feast for you since it is your name-day and your Congregation main feast day. I hope and pray that you may immerge yourself and enjoy the gaudium (joy)of the Lord!

Often I see you alternating between joy and sadness, euphoria and mistrust, optimism and pessimism, at times even vacillating in your faith and self-esteem. Looking around you also I discover that you are not alone in this state of mind. The more you become aware of this discontent within yourself, and the more you see it in others, the more you may be tempted to believe that happiness is only a dream. Even more discouraging is the realization that many religious persons are unhappy. Remember your old refrain: “No problem”. What happened to your bold confidence that you could find your paradise anywhere? I know for sure that you want to be happy, and you must be happy indeed! Let us try to see together what happiness really is and how we can really reach it in this life.

Approximately forty year ago I read a book “Asylum” written by a Jewish psychiatrist. This book was about Total Institutions like hospitals, army barracks, boarding schools, prisons, seminaries and religious communities: it presented those institutions that control the life of the inmates night and day and in all its expressions. Religious life occupied a very eminent place in this book. I remember the fine irony (or crude realism?) with which the author talked about the heroic men and women who freely renounce to so many things that are desirable to human nature and then they become colonized, entangled in so many meaningless little things! As a young man reading this book, I used to laugh (today I should cry) reading about the real tragedies that happen within  these heroic people, whenever they find their seat occupied or when they loose a holy card or a medal! The colonization consists in the fact that the religious people would be able to create an environment or a shell in which they combine heroic renunciations  and attachments to insignificant little things.

Another image that comes to my mind is that of the fable of Fedrus, the dog that is carrying a piece of meat while crossing a water basin. The dog sees in the water the reflection of the meat in its mouth and
wanting to grab it, lets go of what it really has!

These two images, my dear Louis, remind me of you; they seem to describe your present mental status. You go around and around and yet are unable to get out of your colony. You get over-fatigued in the turbulent waters surrounding you, anxiously trying to grab what
does not exist and letting go of what you have!  

Holiness and happiness

I believe that the two realities, happiness and holiness are completely reversible; saying one, you say the other; conquering one, you conquer the other. You cannot have one without having the other. As a Vocationist I preach universal sanctification and doing so I preach also the universal vocation to happiness.

The world seeks happiness. Philosophers and psychologists agree that the search for happiness is what makes all men equal. Men may not agree on a definition of happiness, nor on what constitutes
happiness, but all men constantly and untiringly search for it! Just look for a moment at all the advertisements or publicities that continually bombard us; they all say the same thing: buy this object, reach this objective, get this position and you shall be happy; or without this gadget, without this satisfaction you life is incomplete, it is empty of
meaning and value. And we believe it!

Every definition of happiness includes: being happy, being satisfied, obtaining what you wanted, being content, feeling joy, contentment, success, or happy event, favorable occurrence. The basic element of happiness seems to be “satisfaction”. Philosophically man is satisfied when the intellect reaches the possession of the truth and when the will reaches the possession of what is good. God is the truth. God is the supreme good. We, consecrated people should be the experts of the truth and of the good and consequently we should not only be the possessors of happiness but the distributors of it.

Holiness is the complete possession of God, supreme truth, supreme good. Holiness is the conforming of our life to the supreme truth and to the supreme good. The basic idea of holiness can be found in the word perfection which means completely done, total accomplishment of what one had to do, when nothing is missing. R. Zavattaro (in I religiosi in Italia, gen. Feb. 2005, page 44) affirms that happiness is a lost dimension even in our religious communities and concludes: “He who has chosen God and is rich of Him, cannot but be happy, cannot but transmit happiness, cannot but live this joy”.

It may be important to notice that in at least 60% of the prayers (collects) of the Mass the Church is imploring happiness, joy, serenity and security of life. You not only have the right to long for
happiness, the very reason of your creation, the ultimate goal of revelation is God’s desire that you share his own happiness: “ I have told you all these things, so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete” (Jn 15, 11). Not any happiness or partial happiness, but the fullness of divine joy!

Why you are not happy?

In a statement of a young religious, reported by Zavattaro (Ibid.) we read: “ When you let the Lord find you, you rediscover the fullness of life and that peace that the world cannot give. To donate one’s life to God is the choice of a winner, it is not the choice of someone who is falling upon himself; it is a courageous jump toward the one who is everything. Renounce to everything in order to possess everything. This adventure is an ongoing thing in this marvelous community full of joy and life. We want to bring this joy to all those we encounter on our way”.

The answer is easy: you are not happy because you darken the absolute truth with relative, selfish little truths that do not satisfy your intellect. You seek your satisfaction in the possession of little, false goods, letting the supreme good remain unreachable, covered and suffocated by your satisfactions, your pleasures, your materialistic
conquests. You re not happy, because like those heroic religious people in Asylum, you have settled in that colony, or like the dog of Fedrus, trying to grab what does not exist you let go the real thing!

Happiness comes from within

Happiness comes from within. You decide whether to be happy or unhappy. The old Latin: unusquisque faber fortunae suae (everyone is the maker of his own fortune) can easily be rendered as unusquisque faber felicitatis suae (everyone is the maker of his own happiness). Each and everyone of us creates his own fortune and everyone of us creates his own happiness. Our happiness or unhappiness cannot depend from causes outside of our own self.

You may try to blame anyone you want for your own misery; but you remain the only responsible one for it! What others say or do does not add or take away from what you are. If your things are not going the
way you want and you are unhappy, do not blame this or that confrere who may not be obeying, may be uncooperative, complainer, selfish, impossible etc…What could have enabled St. Francis to say: the good that I expect is so great that any suffering seems a delight?

Reflecting on Fr. Justin’s meditations in Faciamus Hominem, you cannot but realize, that as image and likeness of God you cannot but be happy as God is happy, better, the very personification of happiness. As you must enter in that divine plural to render your own image and likeness of God ever more perfect and more like the divine persons, so you must enter into it to become an ever more perfect image of his blessedness. As all our sins and our ingratitude cannot deprive God of his infinite happiness (am I blaspheming?), likewise the ingratitude, the lack of correspondence, the offenses of others cannot deprive you of your own happiness.

The fact is that you are not happy on account of the incongruence of your life; you want to combine God and money, material and spiritual, love and selfishness, religious and worldly life and then seek someone to blame for the discontent and emptiness you experience. Your heart is much bigger, your intelligence is much more farsighted, your will much more precious of your petty interests, that is the only reason why all you do cannot satisfy you and you condemn yourself to be eternally discontent.

The Word of God

What does the word of God have to say on happiness? Listen to the word, put it into practice and you will reach your goal. Read over and over again the beatitudes and you will understand that your happiness does not depend on others, nor on things outside of yourself, otherwise who could ever be happy, the one who suffers, the one who cries, the poor, the one who is insulted or persecuted? Who or what could ever separate me from the love of Christ? Who or what can ever separate me or deprive me of my happiness? Nothing and nobody, except my own self. St. Peter reminds us: “ that is why you are full of joy, even if you now have to be afflicted by various trials for a short while” (1 Pt 1, 6). These temporary trials do not deprive us of the fullness of joy.

Reflect on the following verses of the psalms: “I place the Lord ever before me, he stands at my right, I cannot fall; of this my heart rejoices, my soul exults” (Ps 15, 8-9). I will offer in his house sacrifices of praise, hymns of joy I shall sing to the Lord” (Ps 6, 8). “ There is sadness at night, but in the morning it turns into joy… you have changed my lament into a dance of joy and my sac-cloth into habit of joy” (Ps. 29 6 & 13).

The Lord Jesus has come so that your joy may be complete. So that you may be happy he has given you himself and the key to happiness when he has told you:  seek first the kingdom of heaven and his justice; amass for yourself treasures in heaven; look at the birds of the sky and the lilies of the field; rather blessed are those who hear the word of God and put it into practice.

G.A.U.D.I.U.M

It is not by chance that your motto-program is gaudium, joy. According to Fr. Justin you will enjoy your gaudium only by transforming it into G.A.U.D.I.U.M. You shall be happy only when you will seek and bring about the glory, love and will of God throughout the whole world. How intelligent Fr. Justin was, and how he cared about your real happiness: he has made of it the program of your life!

One of your distinctive note is the festive mood: “The servant of the saints must overflow with irrepressible happiness, which is revealed in all his sincerely cheerful actions, in order to better overcome the influences of the devil and to better promote universal sanctification, which is the work of the Holy Spirit” (Asc. 913). How beautiful is this
overflowing with untamable joy! How beautiful are these sincerely cheerful ways!  Here your Father and Master warns you also that your ineffectiveness in ministry is caused by your lack of happiness. How can one preach the good news with a sad face and a bitter heart?

It may also be profitable to meditate on the “happy marriages” arranged by the infinite creating wisdom of God Trinity, mentioned by Fr. Justin in Faciamus Hominem: “That I may never divide what God has blessed and joined together! That I may never break the divine, vital bonds, between even the most opposite terms, between what is created and what is uncreated, between heaven and earth. I shall honor, exult the divine love that has established them as a revelation, effusion, consolation and glorification of himself” (Verse 1537).

God joins together sorrow and happiness thus creating love. From the union of matter and spirit comes out the man! He combines virginity and maternity and gives us the Virgin Mary! He joins the human nature and the divine and makes Jesus himself! (Ibid. 1538).

“I see also mystically joined in the Eucharist – in an even more mysteriously ineffable divine harmony –the state of glory of Jesus, with the state of sacrifice of Jesus, the one equally true and real as
the other, both present in the host sacrifice and sacrament” (Ibid. 1539).

“I will not be surprised seeing mysteriously combined an infinite joy to an infinite sorrow in the divine love for the soul. I will dedicate myself to relieve that divine sorrow, which breaks the heart of the one
who wants to properly respond to that divine love and enter into that infinite joy” (Ibid.  1540).

My dear, I know that sometime you skip your examination of conscience, and that when you do it, you do not do it thoroughly as you should. The Lord comes to your aid – in place of the thermometer
–examination of conscience – he makes you touch your discontent only to invite you to discover and fill your internal emptiness. Fr. Justin knew only too well that if the Lord turns his face from me, I will be
unhappy! Only in order to make impossible this possibility, he wants to be a soul spouse of the Trinity.

Conclusion

He who wants to obtain a goal must use the means necessary to the achievement of that goal. If you want to be happy, you can do it. Seek within yourself the divine persons, loose yourself in them and you shall find the fullness of your maturity and of your happiness.

This is what Fr. Justin meant when he made us and makes us pray Societas nostra sit cum Patre, et Filio et Spiritu Sancto! May our Society be with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the secret of your happiness, the secret of your holiness. Amen.

Always at your service,
Fr. Louis M. Caputo, S.D.V. of the Blessed Trinity

P.S.

1. The Congregation has accepted (half paid and half donated) with the Vocationist Sister  approximately
10000 square meters of land in Salinas, Las Playas,
Guayaquil, Ecuador.
2. The Congregation is in the process of accepting a piece of land of approximately 15000 square meters in Carrican, Loja, Ecuador.
3. The Congregation is also in the process of
accepting a property consisting in a chapel, six rooms not completely finished and land in Vilcabamba, the famous valley of longevity, province of Loja, Ecuador.
4. In order to protect our property in Siculiana
Marina, the Congregation is making the necessary
arrangements to buy the property of the Franciscan
Sisters next to our property.
5. The Seminars celebrated in Foligno and in Siculiana have seen a great participation of our confreres and of lay people. They have been a great success.
6. The priests and the bishops of the Diocese of
Pozzuoli have participated to the clergy Day in
Posillipo on April 29. We have been happy to have them with us and they have shown their interest in knowing more of our beloved Fr. Justin.
7.  In Ibadan the construction of Fr. Justin
Vocationary goes on.
8. In Pianura the work of restructuring the
Vocationary continues. The second and third  turn of
yearly retreat will be held there! The whole work
should be completed by June 2006. We are considering the possibility of getting a loan of approximately  euro 1,000,000.00 to complete the work.
9. We are working with the local authority to try to make possible a big square in the corner between the Vocationary and Holy Family Parish.
10. Fr. Justin Museum is open to the public. Any one who is in possession of relics or objects of Fr.
Justin is kindly requested to donate them to the
museum. Objects of historic or artistic value may
likewise be donated to the museum.
11. During the Month of May ,2005,Fr. Limone is
visiting the Philippines. I will joined him from
India.
12. On Saturday, May 7 our confrere Johnson
Pulikkattil, S.D.V. Was ordained priest by archbishop
Jacob Thoomkuzhy of Trissur.
13. On the evening of May 10, six Indian postulants were admitted to the novitiate.
14. On May 11, 9 novices made their first profession of the vows in Mulayam,India.
15. On May 11, 9  temporary professed brothers renewed their vows.
16. In the afternoon of May 11 at St. Patrick Parish
in Mulayam 7 young Vocationist pronounced their
perpetual vows. Praise the Lord !.
17. You are all invited to celebrate with our
community of Davao to celebrate the admission to the novitiate, first vows and renewal of temporary vows on May 17.
18. The next big events of the 50th Anniversary of Fr. Justin’s death will take place in Pianura from July 30 to August 2nd. Please, come and bring your people!.
19. On June 18 in the parish church of the Sacred
Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Piazza Neghelli, Naples, our deacon Antonio Serrao will be ordained a priest.
20. Our confreres Benito Arcieri has been admitted to the diaconate; Massimiliana D’Auria, Costantino
Liberti and Arley Tobar have been admitted to
perpetual vows and to the diaconate.
21. Around the end of the summer there will be some transfer of Vocationist confreres from one assignment to another.  Be prepared to respond with generosity to the needs of the Congregation. Your comfort, your likes and dislikes, cannot take precedence over the needs of the Congregation and the common good.
22. The week-long yearly retreat is mandatory and has to be done with the confreres; no one is exempted. Did you make your reservation with Fr. Saturno?



 
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