The Pursuit of Happiness
Saints despise the pursuit of happiness, thinking it to be beneath their spiritual dignity. They don’t wish for the fleeting happiness of hedonism, mainlining pleasure and gratification. Aside from which, they insist, it is an impossible pursuit, therefore a pointless exercise.
They say that a person can be entirely satisfied with the beatific vision, and obedience to God’s will in a self-less service of others.
Happiness is circumstantial – only. Their pursuit is the Creator.
Sinners pursue happiness with intentional gusto. They see existence as short, and not always sweet, so the pursuit of happiness is to them both reasonable and justified. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die (or the day after). Whatever their hand finds to do they do with all their imagination and might.
Aside from which, they opine, there is no one to hold them to account.
Happiness is circumstantial – always. Their pursuit is the creaturely.
I find myself stuck in the middle: too ascetic by far for the lover of pleasure, and too pleasure oriented by far for the ascetic.
But it appears unreasonable to not want for some happiness. I am not sure about high-minded protests that dismiss happiness. It is likely that those who talk about happiness not being everything have plenty of it available, in some form or other. I can’t see a person living in poverty saying the same, at least not with the same enthusiasm. They would be most happy at any happiness, no matter how meagre.
And it appears folly to insist that happiness is our pursuit, the reason for living. Those that hold to this are bound to be disappointed, sooner or later.
Equally it isn’t something that can be done away with, as though it mattered not.
Some happiness matters. It is good for the creature, and if followed through can be a foretaste, a pathway, to the true life and joy that comes from the Creator, I have heard.
So then, saints need more happiness, and sinners a little less.