Tag Archives: love of neighbor

God’s Great Commandments (Part 6)

As discussed in my previous post, to find eternal happiness we need more than Faith. We need Hope.

Hope, like Faith, is a virtue given by the grace of God. Hope takes us along the journey to happiness with God. Hope emanates from the will. It is the courage to accept the Faith knowing that following Jesus will not be in vain. Hope is the desire to be saved by Faith in God by fighting the good fight, staying ever alert, sacrificing when necessary, and living within your means.

The virtue of Hope in the spiritual world is similar to the virtues of Courage and Temperance found in the everyday world. It is courage and temperance that allow us to fight the trials of the adventure to seize the gift for society, moving forward to happiness in this life. And it is the virtue of Hope that allows us to remain faithful to the road to future happiness in the next life, as expressed by Jesus.

The following picture beautifully illustrates the grace of Hope. The travelers exhibit a calm sense of purpose and resolve that the road that they have embarked upon earlier will hopefully lead to future happiness.

The group is emerging from an eastern light into a western darkness; a snarled broken tree depicts dangerous roads ahead.  Daniel Boone represents the protector who is leading the group through the adventure with great assurance.  He is the grace of Hope that the group will eventually find bliss and happiness at the end of their journey.  He represents the second supernatural grace: the comforter, the assurer of their Faith, and the promise of happiness nurturing the faithful travelers as they follow the road to happiness.

But, happiness requires more than a knowledge of God (Faith) and the assurance that the path chosen by God is indeed the correct one (Hope).

More to come!

God’s Great Commandments (Part 5)

So, Jesus tells us that the first commandment is to love God with our heart, soul, and mind. Firstly, to love God requires Faith. If you do not have faith in God, or you believe that God does not exist, then you need not go any further (after all, how can you love God if there is no God). However, even if you have no faith I suggest that you read on – your life might just be improved anyway.

Faith, is a virtue given by the grace of God – it can not be achieved with one’s own efforts. To receive faith requires that you be open to accepting it, that you be humble and ever vigilant. It requires that you be educated by your parents, the church, and others who are looking to help you find such faith.

Faith emanates from the mind. It is knowledge that there is a God. The virtue of Faith in the spiritual world is similar to the virtue of Prudence or Wisdom found in the everyday world. It is prudence or wisdom that allows each of us to recognize the call to the adventure (the adventure leading to happiness in this life). And it is the virtue of Faith that allows us to recognize the call to follow Jesus (the call leading to happiness in the next life).

You are probably wondering what faith looks like. Well, the picture below is one of the best depictions of faith that I have ever come across.

This painting presents a girl who appears to have made her decision to accept the grace of Faith and travel upward and away from her friends to the right.  This is a clear depiction of the grace of Faith, represented by the sunlight bathing the girl in warmth.  The sunlight denotes a supernatural protective power of destiny and the promise that paradise will not be lost.

But Faith alone is not enough to find happiness. We need more – coming shortly.

God’s Great Commandments (Part 4)

So, we have Jesus, philosophers (Aristotle), theologians (St. Aquinas), modern psychologists (Maslow), the myths (Campbell), and the masters of the fine arts, all pointing to the meaning of life being to find happiness. And, that the road to such happiness in this life can be found in the loving of one’s neighbor or, to put it differently, the helping of one’s neighbor to flourish in life.

However, loving one’s neighbor or helping one’s neighbor to flourish is not an easy task – it requires lifelong effort and sacrifice. It involves preparation for the adventure, recognition of the call to the adventure, the courage to accept the call and fight the trials to capture the gift that was the intent of the adventure. Only then, if successful, is the gift presented to one’s neighbor (family, community, or society) helping them have a better life. In return, the reward for such a successful adventure is personal happiness.

And what is this personal happiness? What does it look like? The great artists and the myths show us this state of happiness. The teachings of the philosophers, theologians, and the modern psychologists reinforce what the artists and the myths portray. In essence, happiness is a state in which the successful adventurer is flooded with peak experiences, feelings of self-actualization (which is nothing more than no further needs or desires in life – life is complete), and the ability to move freely between the spiritual and the everyday worlds. No more striving, no more searching, each day is met with experiences and moments that are rarely revealed to those who have not found happiness.

And, what about Jesus’s teaching of God’s second commandment being to love your neighbor? If this command is fulfilled, happiness is reached. And the outcome of the successful adventure is the fulfillment of this second commandment – the lives of one’s neighbors and family have been enhanced. For those who have fulfilled the second command (those who have reached the end of the adventure) the reward could be nothing but “heaven on earth.” And “heaven on earth” could be nothing more than what we have learned from the great thinkers and artists mentioned above: a flood of peak experiences, no further needs or desires in life, no more striving or searching, and the ability to move freely between the spiritual and the everyday worlds.

The final aspect of happiness being the ability to move freely between the spiritual and the everyday worlds is what connects us to the first great commandment – love of God.

More to come!

 

 

God’s Great Commandments (Part 3)

In my previous two posts I discuss the two commands of God found in the New Testament: 1) love God, and 2) love your neighbor. Matthew’s gospel states that these are the two greatest commandments of God and upon which everything else rests. If so, then why does the rest of the New Testament exist? Why not just stop with the two commandments? There are two very good reasons.

Firstly, we read the New Testament to be assured that Jesus is the Son of God. We read of His life (especially His birth and death), His teachings, and His miracles. It is these readings that give us the comfort and the faith that Jesus is the Messiah and that the two great commandments (and other teachings) that Jesus states are to be trusted as the true road to follow for happiness.

Secondly, we read the New Testament to be inspired by the disciples of Jesus. These are men who walked with Jesus and who developed the faith to follow his teachings. It is important to witness how these men were changed by following Him. The readings regarding the lives of the disciples prove the confidence and hope that following the teachings of Jesus will lead to happiness.

It is in my book that you will find the teachings of great philosophers, psychologists, and mythologists. They provide abundant support from different disciplines; support that reinforces the second of God’s commands. Also, my book presents great works from the masters of the fine arts to provide the confidence and hope that the great teachings do in fact illustrate the road to happiness in this life.

The same great thinkers and great artists are once again called upon, along with one great theologian, to provide evidence supporting God’s first command. It is this evidence that highlights the road to happiness in the next life.

As you will see in my book, the roads to happiness in this life and the next life commingle with each other to form just one road to twofold happiness – the same road described by the two great commandments over 2000 years ago!

Virtue: A Must have for Happiness – Part 6

The final link in the whole virtue process is what pulls the adventurer across Joseph Campbell’s threshold back to the everyday world.  This final link is what the philosopher St. Aquinas described as the ultimate virtue: love of neighbor as oneself.

This love is as much from the community or society towards the adventurer as the adventurer’s love towards his/her community.  In other words, it takes the love of one’s neighbor in both directions to bring the adventurer across to the everyday world.  It is at this moment that the adventurer is greeted with the warm and admiration of society, contributing to his/her happiness.  It is also at this time that the boon is presented to society, adding to the flourishing of society.

Joseph Campbell mentions that, “The hero may have to be brought back from his supernatural adventure by assistance from without.  That is to say, the world may have to come and get him.  For the bliss of the deep abode is not lightly abandoned in favor of the self-scattering of the wakened state.”  But why should the world come and get the hero who, motivated by the virtue of justice, is waiting at the threshold.  The world may not recognize the hero or the boon that has been captured.  The reason is simply the love of one’s neighbor  to help the hero with the crossing.  For this one gesture, which might require a lot of effort, the hero is brought back to a world of happiness, and the boon is presented to society.

Next, a great example from the world of cinema.