When we see things like, “All that matters in life is that you’re happy,” or “You deserve to be happy. You deserve to live a life you are excited about. Don’t let others make you forget that,” we may easily be taken in by the sentiment. Written in whimsical font, placed on a serene background, and it just seems right. Who could say no to these things? They’re the sort of quotes that help us through a bad day and give us the motivation to take on the world.
There’s only one problem: they’re completely baseless.
While a major user of social media platforms and a believer that they can be used for amazingly productive purposes (evangelization anyone?) I must admit that the ease at which misinformation and cheap philosophies are spread makes me grow quite weary from time to time. Do we really stop to think about the things that we are sharing? Do we ever think critically about the catchy phrase, inspirational quote, or feel-good proverb that immediately gets a share? Too often, what gets shared does not stand up to our Christian believes. Positive and encouraging, maybe, but hardly sentiments that we should be promoting.
I want to push back against that trend. I want to offer something a bit more substantial, a bit more meaningful. Although not as self-fullining or encouraging as the above lines, I think that the truth is far more satisfying and ultimately leads to a much more lasting sense of contentment: the measure of one’s life is not found in happiness but in love and sacrifice.
That is the topic of this week’s video reflection. If this topic resinates with you and you wish to promote more Christian-themed motivational posters on your social media platforms, I have created two for you use.
Would this not be a prime time to give your many readers your thoughts about the ouster of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick on a years-old sex abuse credible charge AND the fact that there have been four settlements made with adults who had charged McCarrick with sexual abuse?.
Thanks Friar Casey
Just what I wanted to hear on a Monday. I listened to it but sounds kind of gloom and doom. Isn’t there anything besides sacrifice?
Hi Father Casey,
I am a new follower of your YouTube channel and I wanted to comment generally on your video. I understand it was made over two years ago so please note I am speaking from that perspective. While I appreciate the message you gave, it was not apparent upon watching the video on YouTube. With the blog as context, it makes more sense, but when I first watched this video, the message came off as empty and lacking in compassion. Seeing comments with similar sentiments as mine, I think people can very easily see this video in a different perspective as you had intended, which you likely experienced when this video was first posted.
As someone interested in mental health and who has worked with individuals with mental health concerns, I find that messages like these are quickly responded to with backlash. People with depression or chronic stressors may automatically assume others or even God doesn’t care that they can improve where they are in life. And indeed, as you have rightfully stated in response to comments, there are ways to seek help and find healing. But for a person in that position, in that moment, having truly done the best that they could to help themselves, they may believe nothing else can work for them and have given up hope of finding a solution. So saying things like “You don’t deserve to be happy” doesn’t help. Even if God truly cares about us living a righteous life regardless of our feelings, which is true from a theological perspective, these words may not help people who have these concerns and can possibly turn them away from seeking healing.
If you ever have time or feel it is appropriate, could you perhaps talk about Catholicism and mental health? It is an important issue, especially in a time of disease and tragedy such as the COVID-19 pandemic. I am not asking for a strictly medical video but rather a message to encourage people to seek the help they need. I don’t know of any specific Catholic teachings, but urging others that they are not alone and to seek help is an important message to send to the Christian community.
Thank you for your ministry and may God bless you and keep you.