Posts by: Stephanie

Searching for happiness? Studies suggest religion is the best place to find it.

Searching for happiness? Studies suggest religion is the best place to find it.

From Aleteia:

Happiness is a big deal to Americans.  Our country was founded, in part, on the right to pursue it.  But how many of us have actually found the key to true and lasting contentment?  According to one recent study, the answer might be found in the pews of our churches on Sunday mornings.

The Washington Post reports:

A study in the  American Journal of Epidemiology by researchers at the London School of Economics and Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands found that the secret to sustained happiness lies in participation in religion.“The church appears to play a very important social role in keeping depression at bay and also as a coping mechanism during periods of illness in later life,” Mauricio Avendano, an epidemiologist at LSE and an author of the study, said in a statement. “It is not clear to us how much this is about religion per se, or whether it may be about the sense of belonging and not being socially isolated.”Researchers looked at four areas: 1) volunteering or working with a charity; 2) taking educational courses; 3) participating in religious organizations; 4) participating in a political or community organization. Of the four, participating in a religious organization was the only social activity associated with sustained happiness, researchers found.
Read more at Aleteia.
(Photo credit: Imagine Sisters)

Stephen Colbert on gratitude, suffering, and his Catholic faith: ‘What punishments of God are not gifts?’

Stephen Colbert on gratitude, suffering, and his Catholic faith: ‘What punishments of God are not gifts?’

It’s not every day that GQ magazine publishes a quote from the Baltimore Catechism, but in a recent profile of comedian Stephen Colbert that’s exactly what happened. The future host of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, touched on many topics during the GQ cover story, but his discussion of gratitude, joy, and suffering were distinctly Catholic and incredibly beautiful.

“And the world,” he said. “It’s so…lovely. I’m very grateful to be alive, even though I know a lot of dead people.” The urge to be grateful, he said, is not a function of his faith. It’s not “the Gospel tells us” and therefore we give thanks. It is what he has always felt: grateful to be alive. “And so that act, that impulse to be grateful, wants an object. That object I call God. Now, that could be many things. I was raised in a Catholic tradition. I’ll start there. That’s my context for my existence, is that I am here to know God, love God, serve God, that we might be happy with each other in this world and with Him in the next—the catechism. That makes a lot of sense to me. I got that from my mom. And my dad. And my siblings.”

Colbert experienced profound suffering in his life. The youngest of 11 children, his father and two brothers were killed in a plane crash when Colbert was just 10 years old.  When asked about how he remained so joyful despite experiencing so much sorrow, Colbert replied:

“I was left alone a lot after Dad and the boys died…. And it was just me and Mom for a long time,” he said. “And by her example am I not bitter. By her example. She was not. Broken, yes. Bitter, no.” Maybe, he said, she had to be that for him. He has said this before—that even in those days of unremitting grief, she drew on her faith that the only way to not be swallowed by sorrow, to in fact recognize that our sorrow is inseparable from our joy, is to always understand our suffering, ourselves, in the light of eternity. What is this in the light of eternity? Imagine being a parent so filled with your own pain, and yet still being able to pass that on to your son.

“It was a very healthy reciprocal acceptance of suffering,” he said. “Which does not mean being defeated by suffering. Acceptance is not defeat. Acceptance is just awareness.” He smiled in anticipation of the callback: “ ‘You gotta learn to love the bomb,’ ” he said. “Boy, did I have a bomb when I was 10. That was quite an explosion. And I learned to love it. So that’s why. Maybe, I don’t know. That might be why you don’t see me as someone angry and working out my demons onstage. It’s that I love the thing that I most wish had not happened.”

I love the thing that I most wish had not happened.

I asked him if he could help me understand that better, and he described a letter from Tolkien in response to a priest who had questioned whether Tolkien’s mythos was sufficiently doctrinaire, since it treated death not as a punishment for the sin of the fall but as a gift. “Tolkien says, in a letter back: ‘What punishments of God are not gifts?’ ” Colbert knocked his knuckles on the table. “ ‘What punishments of God are not gifts?’ ” he said again. His eyes were filled with tears. “So it would be ungrateful not to take everything with gratitude. It doesn’t mean you want it. I can hold both of those ideas in my head.”

You can read the full article at GQ.

Pope Francis’ Washington visit has lawmakers in the hot seat – but not for the reason you think

Pope Francis’ Washington visit has lawmakers in the hot seat – but not for the reason you think

Pope Francis will address the members of Congress next month during his visit to Washington, D.C. and there is some expectation that his words will challenge the legislators. But the pope’s visit is already posing a challenge to the lawmakers – choosing who will get their one guest ticket for the Pope Francis’ address.

This is the first time that a pope will be addressing Congress, and a spot on the limited guest list is the hottest ticket in Washington. Yahoo News reports:

Whether a freshman on the job less than a year or a committee chairman with decades in office, lawmakers face the same rules as a State of the Union speech — one guest ticket per lawmaker.

“I’ve been thinking long and hard about that,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the No. 2 Senate Democrat. “Turns out I know a couple of Catholics,” he said, laughing. “And this is a hard call.”

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is giving her ticket to her mother, Pat, who headed Catholic Charities of Maine. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., said his choice “starts with family,” but he hasn’t decided yet.

Republican Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J., faces a nearly Solomonic choice straight out of the Old Testament.

“Either my wife (Heidi) or my twin brother (James), but I’m a very popular fellow these days because of that one ticket that I get,” Lance said.

Several spouses have already claimed the seats.

“My wife is getting my ticket,” Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., said of his wife Judy. “Even before I knew that the official announcement was made that the Pope was coming to speak to a joint session of Congress, I received the email from my wife saying, ‘Don’t give my ticket away.'”

Read more at Yahoo News.