A MESSAGE FROM FATHER LOU
“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of ‘Happiness’”
Christ is Risen!
We all recognize the title above from the Articles of our U.S. Constitution. Within the realm of provisions for equality for all citizens, Americans are provided with a promise of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Below is my offering for “pursuit of happiness.”
One of the promises of our country’s Constitution, along with the ability to live with liberty is the freedom to participate in “the pursuit of happiness.” It is most definitely commonplace in our times to ask such questions as: “Am I happy?”; “What makes you happy?”; “Do you feel happy?”; “Does he or she make you happy?” There is something, it seems to me very telling in the Constitution’s language referencing to the “pursuit of happiness.” It’s kind of like the county fair’s greased pig chase. There’s a lot of pursuing, some touching, but very little hanging onto. The chase is fun (and dirty), the touching exhilarating (and exhaust- ing) and the lack of hanging onto frustrating. Happiness, howev- er, we continue to pursue.
What might the Church say about this pursuit? In order to answer the question, let’s first look at the Greek biblical word for happiness. It is “Hara.” Perhaps a better translation is “joy.” Its root comes from “haris,” which literally means “grace.” A charis- matic person is a “graced” person. This is God’s grace that comes from the Holy Spirit within us. Joy or happiness, therefore comes from God’s grace within us, or simply from God. From a Christian perspective, to “pursue” happiness simply would mean to “pursue” God. Furthermore, it does not mean pursuing God outside of us, but rather discovering God within us. After all, the Holy Spirit is defined as “God within us.”
We are now in the midst of the period of the Pente- costarion, from Pascha Sunday to Pentecost, we remember his- torically in Judaism, the wandering of the Jews in the wilderness, following their first Passover and their release from 400 years of captivity in Egypt. Their promise was a return to Canaan, “The Land of milk and honey – the Promised Land.” Pentecost in Ju- daism, was a remembrance of Moses’s reception of the law on Mt. Sinai. For Christians, our new Passover, or Pascha, is the resurrection of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ and our new Pentecost remembers the eternal gift of the Holy Spirit.
(Ref.: In Father Anthony Coniaris’ book, Introducing the Orthodox Church, he states, “The Trinity means that I believe in
God the Father who made me, God the Son who saves me and God the Holy Spirit who lives in me… God the Father: God above me. God the Son: God beside me. God the Holy Spirit: God within me and within the Church.” (pg. 27)).
As I reflect on my life and moments of deep happiness and joy, I remember Marsha and my wedding—touched by God’s Grace; the births of our children and grandchildren— touched by God’s Grace; a gift received from or given to my fam- ily—touched by God’s Grace; forgiveness given or received— touched by God’s Grace; my ordinations to the diaconate and priesthood—touched by God’s Grace; receiving and offering Holy Communion—touched by God’s Grace; a walk in the coun- try, a fish caught-and released, a perfect pass thrown and caught, a golf ball hit in the sweet spot—all touched by God’s Grace.
Happiness, then is not to be pursued in this tantalizing world around us. That pig just cannot be caught. Our happiness, our joy becomes something worthwhile and someone to hang onto when we find God in His great mercy, love and grace within us. The external conditions of darkness simply cannot extinguish this Light of Life and Liberty. We hear in our Lord’s own words: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and dine with him, and he with me.” (Rev. 3:20)
My beloved brothers and sisters, we just celebrated our Feast of Feast—Pascha, our Lord’s Passover from death to life—His glorious and life-giving Resurrection. As we passed the Paschal light from person to person and sang, in the early morn- ing hours of Pascha, the first “Christ is Risen” with exuberance, the external joy of the Resurrected Lord was internalized by all. Let’s allow this glorious Presence of our Lord, enlivened by the Holy Spirit be the core of our life and of our joy today and every day.
The Grace of our Lord Jesus, the Love of God the Fa- ther and the Communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Christ is Risen! Fr. Lou
On behalf of Fr. Paul and Fr. Jimi, I would like to thank everyone who worked so hard to make this Great Lent, Holy Week and Pascha such a blessed time. We especially thank the choir, chanters, bakers, cooks, acolytes, ushers, decorators, egg dyers, church cleaners, Ministry Teams, volunteers, Philopto- chos, Agape Group, Parish Council and our staff for all their hard work during Great Lent and Holy Week.
Glory to God for all of you!