Oct 16, 2021 filed under Hope, Joy.

Jesus, logos of the universe

Are you a subscriber to Gilbert magazine? It’s published by the G. K. Chesterton Society (Chesterton.org) and is 50-some pages of sanity that arrives in my mailbox every other month. I like to “sip” on it before I go to sleep – and I sleep better after a sip of common sense.

On page 13 of this month’s issue are Chesterton’s thoughts on optimism, from his book of essays, Tremendous Trifles:

“That is what makes life at once so splendid and so strange. We are in the wrong world. When I thought that [this] was the right town, it bored me; when I knew it was wrong, I was happy. So the false optimism, the modern happiness, tires us because it tells us we fit into this world. The true happiness is that we don’t fit. We come from somewhere else.”

Chesterton’s prophetic writings from over a century ago speak pointedly to our own age, when a promise of happiness in worldly things shouts at us from every electronic device. Take this drug or food supplement. Buy this exercise equipment or car insurance.

But it’s not true. Our happiness of not of this world. We come from somewhere else.

Jesus said, “My kingdom does not belong to this world….my kingdom is not here” (Jn 18:36). If it is not here, where is it? It is in heaven. But aren’t we asked to help bring the Kingdom of God to earth? Yes. But perhaps that means working to give fellow earthlings a foretaste of heaven in our kindness, patience, material support, and prayer—to help them develop a greater longing for the lasting happiness of God.

In his hymn to the Blessed Sacrament, St. Thomas Aquinas prayed
“O give us endless length of days, when our true native land we see.” Thomas was reminding us of Jesus’ words “my kingdom is not here.” He was reminding us that our true native land is heaven and that any happiness we find in this world is only a hint of heaven.

Happiness of hope
The virtue of hope is rooted in reality. Hope is not wishful thinking or daydreaming about things that can never happen. It’s the belief, based on the good things we’ve already seen God do, that our longing for peace, fulfillment, and joy will be provided “packed down and overflowing” in heaven. If we believe that God wants that for us and is able to provide it, we can experience through hope the kind of happiness Chesterton referred to as knowing “we come from somewhere else.”

Chesterton loved God and loved a good paradox: a paradox is a contradiction on the surface, while revealing the truth of a mystery too big for us to grasp. The paradox of living on earth with “one foot in heaven” seems impossible, but doing so gives this life meaning and purpose. If we serve God and each other in holiness, we bring a little heaven to earth. Listening for God’s will and doing our best to follow it and bring others to God is the best way to pass the time between now and the time we go home to our “true native land.”

In reminding herself that God is our homeland, St. Teresa of Avila famously prayed:

“Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you. All things are passing away: God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.”

Love always,

12 Responses to “GKC’s recipe for happiness in this world”

  1. Margaret

    Dear Rose,

    Thank you! for bringing Chesterton and so many treasures to light for our many dispositions.
    I used to subscribe to the Chesterton Magazine when Father Schall, S.J. was a contributor. Mos of Chesterton’s books are free for Kindle on Amazon. His thoughts are relevant for all our tipsy-turvey times and can be an exercise in thinking as well as humorous and wise.
    With gratitude for all you do, and God bless you. Margaret

    • Rose Folsom

      Yes, Fr. Schall was a great priest who loved the truth. You’re right — Chesterton saw our time coming and has given us a way to approach things with wisdom and humor — so much needed now!

  2. Mary Faye McAneny

    Because this was so powerful I shared this with four folks i am accompanying . Thanks, Rose.

  3. Lynda Rozell

    Wonderful and inspiring reflection! Thank you Rose. I hope we can meet up again in November when I’m back in northern Virginia. Blessings, Lynda

    • Susan

      Hi Lynda
      I met you at St. Ann’s in Bethany Beach, DE.
      Good to see your name pop up here with Rose.
      How is your journey going,?
      I brought your book to St. Louis and a friend read it and enjoyed your story. I also enjoy following Rose

  4. Judy Miller

    I appreciate your gentle yet strong reminders! Patience and Hope were what I needed to hear today! I want to consciously apply them in my daily life and share with others as we look towards our true home!
    Thank you- God Bless~
    Judy Miller

  5. Tom Roberts

    There is a story that Chesterton might have thought himself in the wrong world as he was studying to become a Catholic: He attended a noontime mass on a rainy day in London. As Chesterton was leaving he discovered his umbrella was gone. He marched back to the sacristy demanding to know what kind of a place this was. The priest replied “It’s a place for sinners; welcome!”

  6. Peggy Hool

    The quote from Chesterton reminds me of something I once heard (and I’m paraphrasing): Fish are perfectly content and have no anxiety because they are where they belong. We, on the other hand, experience much angst and stress because this life is not where we belong.


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