Happiness in This Life: A Passionate Meditation on Earthly Existence
Regardless of your denomination or lack thereof, Happiness in This Life has something to offer you. A collection of messages and homilies delivered during his time as pope, the book shows the words of Pope Francis to be extremely prescient. His central message throughout is that happiness is not only possible in our exceedingly fractured world, it is necessary.
Certainly, readers with a Judeo-Christian background may find the text more applicable in its references to Christ and God, but Francis’s attention to the need for community, service, kindness, and equality transcends religion. Many of these messages are addressed to young people struggling to find their way in the world, particularly those caught up in what he deems “throwaway culture.” By his definition, this is the process and practice of acquiring material things one will eventually throw away, a culture that is not as lasting as the foundations of faith.
He also addresses the disparity between the sexes, saying, “History is rife with an excess of patriarchal cultures, cultures in which women are second-class citizens.” In numerous messages the call to see men and women is not just a suggestion, it is a fundamental necessity to finding happiness because it allows all people to see and be seen, to be valued and to be celebrated. He extends this discussion of equality in a message opining that our differences aren’t an obstacle but “are opportunities for deeper mutual knowledge and understanding,” advocating for communication and conversation rather than snap judgments and defensive argumentation.
Happiness in This Life is a wonderful touchstone for those feeling a bit lost. It is a book to return to, an anchor in the stormy sea of life.
Pope Francis • Oonagh Stransky, Translator