But are you happy?

The other day this advert on a bus stop - for a reality TV programme - leapt out at me as I was walking home. I posted it on social media, with the caption: Yes!! Religious life: if it's God's call for you, then you will be truly, deeply happy (with or without a nice car). And indeed that is so, and needs to be proclaimed, especially to those whose anxieties imagine only joyless austerity and constriction, rather than the fulfilment and depths of joy and inner freedom those of us living this life can attest to.

And yet... a caveat. I really believe that God doesn't call anyone to anything - be it religious life, marriage, priesthood, devotion to a cause, service overseas or whatever - primarily for their own joy, growth or fulfilment, but for the greater joy, growth and fulfilment of the world. Any call is at heart a call to greater love, and to service; to go beyond ourselves, and to focus on giving rather than receiving. And the measure in which we embrace that call; in which we love and give, and offer ourselves and all that we are, will be the measure in which we receive the mysterious miracle of the hundredfold in return. Somehow, our gift is transformed and given back to us; not as a nice car, but as something infinitely more satisfying, and a source of lasting happiness...


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