The Third Level of Happiness: Contribution

Construction workers with the Empire State Building in the background

For a full Doctrinal Homily Outline for the Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary time, click here. Central idea: Fruits of the fear of the Lord. Doctrine: Children of God or divine filiation. Practical application: A brief summary of some of the consequences of divine filiation in the Christian life.

The third level of happiness: Contribution to others

The search for physical pleasure can go wrong, and sinfully so. So can a striving for ego gratification. Yet, these two levels of happiness are good in themselves and even necessary, although each is short-lived.

In the third-level of Fr. Spitzer’s four levels of happiness, we start getting into gold.

The first two levels of happiness are proper to youth, though they never go away, and some people never get beyond them. And while children and youths can make a positive contribution to other’s happiness, for most of us, this is an adult enterprise.

Except for some evil activities, every job we do, whether paid or volunteer or some family duty, can contribute to the common good and improve the lives of others. A plumber might spend a few years preparing to make his contribution, and then spend decades doing this necessary work, which is all the better if it does it competently and justly. This good does not even end with retirement. At the school at which I work, the parish has a group of retirees called “Minute Men” who do all kinds of maintenance work as a service.

The goodness of making a positive contribution to the world is something every person can grasp. And if you are a follower of Christ, you will feel an urgent call to “go about doing good” (Acts 10:38). This requires getting to know yourself, what you aspire to, and what opportunities might be possible. This might also require a time of preparation, perhaps years in school or training. And then, application.

One of the exciting things about contributing to others’ well-being is how new ways and opportunities open themselves up. You may find yourself doing good you never dreamed of.

The crisis in contribution

Going about doing good is certainly good! But the amount of good we can do is limited. If you are a janitor, the building gets dirty again as soon as you clean it. No soldier can ever put an end to war. Teachers fail to teach individual kids many times every day. No doctor can cure everyone. No scientist has yet discovered any grand unified theory of physics.

It is very good to do as much good as you can in your life, but life comes to an end and things fall apart.

This is where the fourth level of happiness comes in.






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