Enough Happy Talk—Let's Have Some Cross-Carrying Cheerfulness | Russell Shaw | Catholic World Report
Refusing to face facts isn’t genuine cheerfulness, it’s frivolity or denial
Call it happy talk, call it spin, call it the devil’s handiwork—you find cheerful blather just about everywhere today. In politics (tell the voters what they want to hear). In business (keep the stockholders happy, no matter what). In the military (gotta pump up the troops’ morale).
And even in the Church: “We don’t want to upset those people in the pews, do we?”
I read something recently by a fairly prominent churchman commenting on a finding that only 23% of American Catholics go to Mass every week but 77% say they’re proud to be Catholic. Good news, he enthused—“there is an openness among Catholics to be identified with the Church.”
Well, yes. But for many, it appears, not to the extent of taking part regularly in the central act of worship of that Church they say they’re proud to belong to.
Refusing to face facts isn’t genuine cheerfulness, it’s frivolity or denial. The only authentic kind of cheerfulness is the kind that starts by facing up to facts. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the more in touch with reality someone is, the more cheerful he or she will be in the end.
Let me explain why.
Start with the distinction between two kinds of cheerfulness made by St. Josemaria Escriva. In his little book The Way the founder of Opus Dei writes:
The cheerfulness you should have is not the kind we might call physiological—like that of a healthy animal. Rather, it is the supernatural happiness that comes from the abandonment of everything, including yourself, into the loving arms of our Father God.
Indeed, there’s something downright offensive about this “physiological’ cheerfulness. I think that’s what Dietrich Von Hildebrand is talking about when he speaks in Transformation in Christ of what he calls “joviality”: