Where does happiness come from?

The lack of man’s self-understanding and capacity for moral reasoning lead to a kind of untruth that detracts from human dignity.  The twenty-fifth anniversary of the release of the former Pope John Paul II’s Veritatas Splender, the subject of which was  the “splendor of truth”.  To summarize:1) truth exists; 2) we don’t create it, but find it; and 3) we have no power to change it.  Knowing and living truth is the source to eternal happiness.  Religious morality is about seeking fellowship with God, who is the source of these absolute truths.

To quote from the October issue of First Things,

“…moral rules, laws, and commands…have value because they point to how to live in order to grow in virtue and attain fullness in life.” 

This is because God loves us, and provides such commands in His love; He wants us to be happy.  That religious truth provides a path to happiness was long a theme of religious morality, but has fallen into disrepute since the Enlightenment brought about a more secular mode of thinking.  The High Middle Ages saw in His commands, expressions of His love and wisdom, and saw them as tools for becoming the more perfect beings He intended for us to be.

Today, moral theology is seen less a quest for happiness, and more a navigation of a complex set of rules.  And so  Veritatas Splender moves us back toward a more classical tradition of a morality based on virtue leading to happiness.  For the post-modern problem has been one of damaging “…our God given humanity to live in the truth and more fully human lives.”

There are many acts that are intrinsically evil: murder, rape, genocide, adultery.  An intrinsically evil act always leads away from God.  This central teaching helps stand as forces for a moral good in a fallen world, in which we may be naively seduced in doing evil things believing we are doing good.   But, we are to avoid such temptations, but must deepen our religious convictions that absolute truth exists and that we can find it. 

The First Things article contains a short quote from John Paul II, who lived under both Nazism and Communism:  “Totalitarianism arises out a denial of truth in the objective sense. If there is no transcendent truth, in which man achieves full identity then there is no sure principle for guaranteeing just relations between people.