July 2002, Volume 7, Issue 12   
Interconnection Between
Serenity and Happiness

Rev. Mark Connolly
Thought for the Month
The Eucharist
Rev. Paul Check
Saint of the Month
I Am the Nation
Otto Whittaker
Interconnection Between Serenity and Happiness

Rev. Mark Connolly

I would like to share a few thoughts with you on two themes - the theme of serenity and the theme of happiness. Both are interconnected.

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Fr. Mark

You really cannot be a totally happy person unless you have the quality of serenity. Both of them go hand in hand.

Let me digress for a minute. Many years ago our parents told us to get plenty of exercise. They told us with their limited knowledge that exercise was good for us. It would help our circulation, help us control our weight and help us feel better each day. In the clinical world, they have come forth with a theory that one of the best ways an individual can use to lessen depressions is by a regular exercise program of at least three days a week. We know that people need certain medications like Prozac or St. John's Wort or Zoloft to work through their depressions. So many of the journals are saying another help, another method of coping with depression is by a regular physical exercise program such as walking maybe three times a week. Our parents years ago encouraged us to exercise and they probably did not know the connection between exercise and lessening depression. Today with our schedules and what we are seeing in clinical offices all throughout the county, there is a tremendous need to remind both husbands and wives of the value of serenity. If they do not have serenity, their marriages are affected, their children are affected their own individual lives are affected. Just as we have found out in recent years that depression can be helped by a good physical exercise program, as I said walking three times a week, now we find out that serenity can be achieved by developing a good prayerful, spiritual life.Pill Bottle

Let me give you another example. If you study the philosophy of alcoholics anonymous you know in their twelve step program that they have come to believe in a higher power to help them conquer the problem of alcoholism. You have to learn also that the alcoholic knows the value of taking one day at a time. If you go back to the Lord's prayer this is the same thing Christ said centuries ago, give us this day our daily bread. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, but give us the daily bread we need for today. He also was teaching us the value of one day at a time. He also taught us the value of not sweating out the little things. He taught us the value that worry is so counterproductive that anxiety and worry definitely do damage, not only to the individual psyche, but to the psyche of the family. So when he reminded us in his words, look at the lilies of the field, the birds of the air, they neither sow nor reap, yet your heavenly father takes care of them. Then he said, aren't you of more importance to me than them, o ye of little faith. He was reminding us again of the importance of some kind of spirituality, some kind of prayer life that linked our mind with his. From this union of our mind with his, we develop the insights and the value system that give us the serenity and happiness that so many people are searching for.

Concerning this subject of serenity and happiness, a couple of things have to be kept in mind. No one can totally provide you with serenity or happiness. That is your total individual responsibility. You cannot expect a wife or a husband to supply you with all the happiness that you cannot get based on your own talents. Abraham Lincoln has a beautiful line about these things when he said, you are as happy as you make up your mind to be. You can read all the self help books in the world, you can read all of the documents that come out from psychiatric journals, but if you do not make the effort to take control of your own life, to prioritize each 24 hour day that you have, then you are failing yourself. Each one of us has an inner sanctum in our own psyche. Unless we use the tools of mediation and prayer to fill that inner sanctum in our mind that eventually links us to God, unless we have that linkage with God, there will never be the serenity or happiness that many people are looking for.

Any one in my field knows that no psychiatrist, no physiologist, can give you personal serenity or personal peace. But we can help you find it. We can give you some insights where to look for it. But basically the quest for serenity and happiness comes from your own talents being used, your own set of values being used, your own spiritual principles working through every 24 hour period. Concerning serenity and happiness, basically these are conditions by the attitudes you develop on a daily basis. Your attitude has to be, in the language of St. Paul, having the mind of Christ throughout your daily routine. You can be working at your job, you can be driving the children to school, you can be doing 101 jobs, but unless you have a life of prayer that again keeps you in union with God you will never have that serenity that Jesus Christ wants you to have.

If you study the writings of like St. Francis of Assisi, he gave us a prayerful mantra that went something like this, "Lord make me an instrument of your peace, where there is hatred, let me bring love, where there is despair, let me bring hope, where there is sadness, let me bring joy." That prayer was based on the teachings of Jesus Christ. You can find it in the phrase of Christ where he said, "my peace I leave unto you, my peace I give to you." St. Francis instructed that prayer, Lord make me an instrument of your peace, based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, the prince of Peace. That prayer of St. Francis has been used in every country of the world by the Franciscans missionaries to remind non-Catholics that if they become a person of peace to others, an instrument of peace to others, that they will achieve the serenity of taking one day at a time.

AAIf you jump into our 20th century, you might recall that many years ago an organization was established called Alcoholics Anonymous. They, too, taught us the value that serenity and spirituality go hand in hand and the net result is a degree of happiness. They have taught their members over the years not only a belief in a higher power, but also the famous serenity prayer that goes, God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference. That prayer has been a spiritual life line to millions of people afflicted with the terrible disease of alcoholism. It is called the Prayer of Serenity. If you take these two prayers, the prayer of St. Francis, Lord make me an instrument of your peace, and the prayer of AA, God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, and incorporate them in your own lives on a daily basis, serenity will be experienced by you in a most unique fashion. There is no question in any clinical psychologist mind that to keep our sanity we have to use the things that God has put at our disposal. We know certain people when it comes to depression will be helped by medication and by a physical exercise regime. We also know we do not have any medication that is strictly ear marked for serenity. It is something you have to achieve on your own with your own abilities working in harmony with the God who gave you those abilities. Without using your own talents, you will always be a fragmented person. In taking your talents and uniting them with the spirit of God, you develop on earth a unique degree of spirituality and that spirituality will help you in the daily battle to achieve serenity.

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