I have spent the last six posts talking about the Christian approach to the road to happiness; in particular, St. Aquinas’ “twofold happiness.” The first happiness, the one in this life, requires (among other elements) the philosophical virtues of wisdom courage, moderation, and justice. The second happiness, the one in the next life, requires the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity.
The Bible, and especially the Christian faith, teach that the above three theological virtues are necessary for eternal happiness or beatitudo. As such, one of the main obligations of religious institutions in the West is guidance in how best to lead a life in which these virtues may be attained by the faithful. This guidance includes religious attendance, the sacraments, offerings, community service, etc.
A major tenet of the Christian faith is a life open to the theological virtues will be more likely to attain and exercise the cardinal virtues, thus moving the faithful forward towards happiness in this life. In addition, this happiness is but a precursor, a building block, to the eternal happiness or beatitudo in the next life.
Final thoughts in my next post!
Let’s now discuss the third and final theological virtue needed for happiness in the next life: Charity.
Charity is the final theological virtue in which we love God, and our neighbor as ourself. Charity is the first of the theological virtues and superior to all other virtues.
Charity could be considered the force pulling the adventurer across the threshold to eternal happiness. The force is the love of God for the adventurer. It is the theological extension of love of neighbor needed by the hero to cross the threshold back to the everyday world and the attainment of happiness.
The third and final time that Campbell mentions reliance on a “supernatural aid” occurs during the return from the adventure, a “rescue from without.” Campbell states, “The myths do not often display in a single image the mystery of the ready transit [from the adventure back across to the everyday world]. Where they do, the moment is a precious symbol, full of import, to be treasured and contemplated. [For Christians] such a moment was that of the Transfiguration of Christ. … Here is the whole myth in a moment: Jesus the guide, the way, the vision, and the companion of the return.”
In Christianity, Jesus, the companion of the return, is the theological virtue of Charity.
More in my next post!
Let’s continue the discussion of the theological virtues needed for happiness in the next life with the second virtue: Hope
Unlike Faith, hope is a longing for beatitudo (happiness in the next life). Hope is the desire for the difficult but attainable good of eternal happiness.
Hope could be considered the nourishment for the adventure, shielding us from discouragement. It is the theological extension of the two virtues of moderation and justice needed to fight the trials, to capture of the boon, and to desire the return to the everyday world. It is the yearning to have our own adventurers in this life be accepted by God in the next life. Hope could be the corollary to the two (philosophical) virtues of moderation and justice needed during the Adventure.
Campbell makes mention of a second time when the hero relies on “supernatural aid,” in the “meeting with the goddess” occurring during the Adventure. She is “the paragon of beauty, the reply to all desire, the bliss-bestowing goal of every earthly and unearthly quest. … For she is the incarnation of the promise of perfection …” She represents the theological virtue of Hope.
Up next, the virtue of Charity!
Let’s discuss now look at the three theological virtues mentioned in my last post as necessary for the attainment of happiness in the next life. First up, Faith.
According to St. Aquinas, Faith is a gift of knowledge of specific truths, revealed by God. Faith is also a venture into an unknown through accepting the truths that cannot be understood with our own natural faculties.
Faith could be viewed as the theological extension of the philosophical virtues of wisdom and courage, required to accept the call to Adventure. Faith is that additional virtue from God that better reveals the call to adventure and the fortitude to accept it summons.
Campbell teaches of the hero’s reliance on “supernatural aid” occurring at several points in the hero cycle. The first time occurs when the hero is departing for the adventure and may need the assistance of a “supernatural aid” to make the crossing. The supernatural figure represents a benign protective power of destiny. It represents reassurance of a promise that Paradise will not be lost. The helper is often viewed as a guide or a teacher, or in Christianity, the Holy Spirit. This “supernatural aid” most closely resembles the theological virtue of Faith.
Up next, the virtue of Hope!
Continuing from my previous post, the “twofold happiness” expressed by St. Aquinas is a very creative and constructive means to help us better understand what ingredients are needed in this life (philosophical elements) versus those required for the next life (theological elements) to reach happiness.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, attaining happiness in this life requires assistance from the four cardinal (philosophical) virtues: wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice. These natural virtues are held in common by Aristotle, The Stoics, and St. Aquinas (and to some extent by Epicurus) as essential to human happiness in this life. These same virtues are expressed artistically in the works seen in the galleries of the exposition in my book.
St. Aquinas teaches that attaining happiness in the next life (beatitudo), however, requires assistance from three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity. These three virtues cannot be acquired by human effort. These virtues are gifts from God. However, they are not foreign to this life: they are an extension of the virtues required in this life and a further perfection of happiness, only available in the next life.
As such, “twofold happiness” requires the cardinal virtues for happiness in this life and the theological virtues for happiness in the next life. It is this “twofold” happiness that is the ultimate goal of Western believers.
More to come!
In my previous post I mentioned that I was going to focus now on the road to happiness in the next life as expressed in Christianity. However, Christian teachings commingle the road to happiness in this life with the road to happiness in the next life. To understand this better, let’s return to one of the four ancient philosophers, St. Aquinas. This time we will study his philosophical teachings (regarding this life) and his theological teachings (regarding the next life).
St. Aquinas teaches that there exists a “twofold happiness” that is available to all of us. One is the happiness that we have been discussing up to now. This is the happiness achievable in this life by our own human efforts. However, St. Aquinas adds that there is a second happiness, a happiness that cannot be achieved simply by human effort without divine supernatural assistance. This is a happiness not in this life, but in the next life. St. Aquinas calls this happiness in the next life, beatitudo (blessedness).
St. Aquinas goes on to mention that the idea of twofold happiness should not be thought of as involving two distinct goals of human life with different roads to follow. He states that the second happiness, happiness in the next life, should be considered as a kind of surpassing perfection of the first. In other words, the second road to happiness (in the next life) is commingled with the first road to happiness (in this life).
More to come in my next post!
All of my posts to date have discussed how best to find happiness in this life. In fact, the exposition in my book is explicit in bringing together the works of the masters of the fine arts with the teachings of three modern thinkers and four ancient thinkers without mention of happiness in the next life. One of those ancient thinkers is a religious figure, St. Aquinas, but I have used his teachings purely on a philosophical basis, not relying on his theological (faith-based) teachings for the exposition.
Since I have discussed the three major non-Western religions and their approaches to happiness in this life, I would like to turn to a discussion of Christianity, the predominate religion in the West, and its road to happiness. But, I think that it is important to discuss Christian teachings regarding happiness in this life as well as the next life because they are so closely linked.
But, I will discuss both happinesses without relying on the Bible. Instead, I will refer back to St. Aquinas, but this time I will use his theological teachings, as well as his philosophical teachings that I have been using so far.
Up next, “Twofold Happiness.”