+Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
A friend of mine likes to say that every life comes down to a choice between happiness and comfort. You can have one or the other, she says, but not both. Sometimes they coincide, but not very often, not very congenially, and rarely for very long. At the end of the day, as the organizing appetites in a life, they’re mutually exclusive. Period.
Consumer - Economy - Comforts - Standard - Living
In a consumer economy of material comforts with the highest standard of living in history, that can sound pretty implausible. And annoying. But I suspect she’s more right than wrong. And here’s why.
Happiness, real happiness, is tied to a kind of wisdom, and wisdom grows out of risk and suffering; the beauty and hard edges of experiencing the real world. It’s never the result of commerce. We can’t own it. We can’t buy it. It’s also never solitary. Happiness needs other people. The joy of a young mother is linked to the gift of life she makes to a new and unrepeatable soul in the act of birth; to the pain and effort she experiences in bearing her child. Happiness is either made and shared with others here and now, or remembered as moments shared with others in the past. Which is why, even as he was beaten and starved in a death camp, Viktor Frankl could know happiness and the interior freedom it brought when he remembered the love of his wife.
Comfort - Thing - Emollient - Ourselves - Facts
Comfort is a different thing. It’s the emollient we place between ourselves and the facts of everyday life. It’s our insulation. Our analgesic. The world can be nasty and unforgiving. Nobody wants to be cold in the winter when we can be warm; or hungry when we can eat steak; or sick when we can be well; or dress in...
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