Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Happiness is about Contemplation and Community, Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

 Candace Pert, a neuroscientist with the National Institute of Health, asserted in her book, The Molecules of Emotion that practices such as meditation and yoga produce in your body "bliss chemicals." (endorphins).  Ruth Whiippman, author  of "America the Anxious: How Our Pursuit of Happiness is Creating a Nation of Nervous Wrecks," wrote a commentary in the New York Times entitled :"Happiness is Other People." Her theory is that we have focused too much on the inside and not enough on the outside. She advocates connecting to others and building a sense of community as the path to happiness.

I agree with both authors and with Marilyn Preston, who combines both approaches: "The path to personal happiness, to connecting with others, begins with self-discovery. Mindfulness and meditation aren't the enemy. They're focusing skills to help us quiet our mind and open our heart. When you know and accept yourself, you are more open to knowing and loving others." (Happiness can be found both inside and outside," Nov. 20, 2017, Sarasota Herald Tribune)

As a happy person, I agree that happiness can be found both inside and outside. In the spiritual journey as we grow in intimacy with God, (our Higher Power, Divine Presence, Christ of the Cosmos) we experience an infinite love filling our being and connecting us with others.  This consciousness enables us to see the face of God in our family members, our communities and in those in need. 

The Gospel  story of Mary and Martha  is often interpreted as as examples of a both/and approach: contemplation and action. However, scholar Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza  thinks that Jesus' correction of Martha in Luke points to the later Christian movement to put women in a subordinate position. Luke's interest in subordination one ministry to another, comes to the fore in the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10:38-42 where Martha is characterized as serving at table, while Mary, like a rabbinic disciple, listens to the word of Jesus. " 

It is evident from the Gospel of John and the Gospel of Luke's accounts of Martha's story that  both writers experienced a community in which women ministered as eucharistic presiders, preachers, and deacons.  In Luke's church, well-to-do Hellenistic women hosted the eucharistic celebration in their homes.  (For more scholarship on Martha and Mary, read  my book: Praying with Women of the Bible)

In our inclusive Catholic communities today we live our call to be mystics and disciples, like Mary. We claim the table ministry  of Martha and serve the Body of Christ in new forms of sacramental ministry that welcome all to the Banquet of Divine Love. 

So for me, happiness embraces the inside and the outside: both contemplation and community. 
Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,


John Chuchman said...

Rather than trying to think my way into a new way of being, I am acting my way into a new way of thinking.

John Chuchman said...

Rather than trying to think my way into a new way of Being, I am Acting my way into a new way of thinking.