Page 5, 11th November 1938

11th November 1938
Page 5
Page 5, 11th November 1938 — "TRUE JOY NEEDS NO APOLOGY"

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THESE columns really should be headed the rest and recreation of duty—as you will see. St. Thomas Aquinas, a good psychologist, who, in his highest theological teaching, never lost sight of the proper workings of human nature, saw that rest and enjoyment should be the normal consequence of the good life—as a smile is the effect of love—and not be separated apart as an occasional and selfconscious duty, though for practical purposes a special kind of rest is command:J

for every seventh day. Our ideas are sometimes blurred here, so let us try to set things in accurate focus.

The Fear of Happiness A streak in us makes us suspicious of the very things that make us happy. We think there is a catch somewhere, that it's too good to last, that we have no right to enjoy ourselves, that almost we must find excuses as if pleasure were guilty. Even the vigorous rejection of this state of mind or mood, the claim to take everythin.; life can offer, itself covers an uneasiness which is part of the inheritance of original sin.

But true joy needs no apology. God made man right—how often the Fathers start from this thought—arid set him in a paradise. And now we are estranged. fidgety with ourselves, uneasy with others, awkward in the world, no longer singleminded. A sign of this is that we are unable to play properly. The high tide of knowledge and love has ebbed, and may

not flow again; the strong stream of action is broken up into many channels and driblets; sense away from mind and passion away from will. We can do little more than try to canalise such life as we have, so that we may be carried to the sea r I not lost in the marshes.

Christians in the West have tended to look twice at high spirits, more especially since Puritanism has planted itself deep in the consciousness of even the most frivolous, and two separate thoughts have grown up, of Duty and Pleasure, like two trees, the one straight and stark against a barren December hillside, the other hea y and fruity in the jungle ooze. Yet for each of us there should be only a single tree, of which duty is the shape and branches, and happiness the fruit—fructus, 'natio, fruit, fruitionthe very words are classical in Catholic theology.

The feeling that religion somehow should be against the grain has been communicated to Catholics; we put on a church face like the others, drag out our alleluias, no longer dance with David before the Ark, forget that Sunday observance means both rest and worship and each because of the other overlook the fact that the Church was the mother, or at least the stepmother. of the Drama, the Fair and the Novel.

Before we can begin to do anything about it we must recapture the thought of a St. Thomas Aquinas, and get behind the rather cheap alternative of Duty and Pleasure, making one over-sweet, the other over-sour, In general terms, what are we here for? To do something, you say, to act. And why should we act? To fulfil, if possible, the purpose of our existence. And what is that? To reach the action of happiness. And where is that? With God. And by happiness, I mean happiness, frank and passionate; human happiness, tender and strong, and not a thin and ghostly approbation. And by God, I mean God the Father who begets the Splendour and Image of his substance, and in Love abides in eternal joy; God who is the beauty reflected in every flash and every flicker, in every steady blaze and every hidden gleam, God who made us in every part and will complete us if we have the courage to live.

When fulfilment comes, then are we L. rest, at joy. The word St. Thomas uses is quies, quiet, but this does not mean the absence of action but of fuss, as silence means not th absence of sound but of noise. He also uses the words delight. pleasure; and the Church sings of the laughter of the blessed. He is so lit suspicious of enjoyment itself, that he takc3 it as one of the tests of a really good action, for true delight can be found only when we are functioning according to our make-up, and it is certainly unfair to say that it is a bad make-up because we so often spoil it Enjoyment Now?

But we are not always acting on things which give us happiness in themselves. Much of our time we are, or should be. arraneing, adjusting, working at means to ends. All this represents using rather than enjoying, for enjoyment denotes a certain achievement, while using only means taking a thing for the sake of something else. Of course, we can take pleasure in gadgets and whatnot, but then we are no longer merely using them, but also playing.

It is worth noticing that nothing inherently good in itself is merely a means to an end. If I decide to walk across St. James's Park just for the sake of getting somewhere or for the exercise then my walk is merely a means to an end; but the human spirit makes it more than that, and observes with pleasure the pelicans that look far from pious and yet interesting all the same (the and yet is deliberate, not a printer's error) and' the way that babies and dogs notice things that grown-ups

don't. You see, St. James's Park has become something more than a place to be crossed, and yet is it necessarily the less efficiently crossed for all that? So with this world, is it just a space we occupy and a period of time we put in?

All the same, the distinction remains between using and enjoying, and St. Augustine, in a fine phrase, warns us against confusing them. He says we go wrong when we enjoy what we should only use, and use what we should enjoy. Use what we should enjoy—what a wealth of meaning there is behind the phrase. For God has not set us in a shadow-world of dreams from which we may presently awake; He has set us in a world of real things, the reality of which we must discover with joy as well as pain, a world we must respect and in which we must grow, so that we shall be fitted for the happiness of heaven. God saw everything He had made and behold it was very good, not His own ultimate and highest good, and yet still not only a useful convenience for something better.

His creation was made in generous and loving play, not a casual whim, but a generous unbidden gesture, and the seventh day He blessed and sanctified, because on it He had rested : that sabbath day, my generation associates with a collar that hurts the back of your neck; sabbatarianism, that mournful figure like a professional mute. Yet Sunday is a day of rest and play, the ideas coincide in the deepest sense, signifying the release of the spirit from the grind of life, activity in its manner divine, for the Bible speaks of the spirit of God, playing in the world, rejoicing to be with the sons of men.

Joy in the Wmtld So we fail by St. Augustine's test, not only when we indulge ourselves and pause when we should pass, acting as if our lasting happiness were here, but also, when in a diametrically opposite mood, we treat tha valuable things, great and small, as if they were only utilities, only means to another end. As if, for instance, we tried to love our neighbour as ourself, merely as a means to loving God.

No, things must be taken in their proper place, in the order set by God. And is (Continued on page 11)

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