Understanding the Bible Series:
Enduring Pain - Part 2
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
If I want to be happy,
I must be willing to endure some pain. I put the adjective some pain
in there to make it easy on you. This just even stands to reason. Say you
women you are looking at a beautiful dress. Youve got so much money. You
look at the price. It should turn you away but for some women it turns them
on. Pain for anything we buy is painful. Say, the most ordinary human relations,
whatever we want costs us. Things we dont like to do we do because we want
something which has a price tag. Why then must I be willing to endure pain?
Because true joy costs. It is expensive, it is dear. There are two kinds or
levels of joy. Theres natural joy and theres supernatural joy. And I am
speaking from the depths of my soul, I may have to suffer internally, naturally
and deeply if I want to be happy supernaturally or spiritually. These are not
clichés, this is not poetry. The only persons who are truly happy are those
who understand the meaning of pain.
I was out of state
for two days, Thursday and Friday, got back close to midnight on Friday, then
yesterday a mountain of things to do. I kept reminding myself, Hardon, youve
got class on Sunday. The only way I could prepare for class was after other
responsibilities were fulfilled. So I just, and believe me, I know, I like
sleep, but to retire well after one oclock this morning and get up early enough
to continue preparing class. As Ive told so many of my Jesuits, you cannot
be a teacher unless you come prepared, come prepared every single class. And
my average is three hours of preparation for one hour of class.
In the same context,
still on patience we can also distinguish between two kinds of prudence. Natural
prudence is to choose what my reason tells me is a suitable means for a predetermined
end. Thats the standard definition of prudencechoosing suitable means for
a good, predetermined end. However, once a person has the faith, that prudence
will inspire that same individual to choose certain means for a predetermined
good end that seem like positive folly, if not insanity for those who dont
have the faith. Like what? Like, [I dont know if Ive got it with me], you
faithfully read the Detroit News and free press, faithfully, every day and sympathetically
for six weeks and you will need miraculous infusion of grace to preserve your
Catholic faith. Ive said this before and I wish to insist, America is a hypnotized
nation. Hypnosis is the ability to have another person do your will. Thats
the essence of hypnosis. Were hypnotized. And the media are doing just that.
So then if I am to be prudent supernaturally, there are things that I will not
use, I will not have. You cannot watch television day after day and turn on
any station at random and keep, I dont say your faith, even keep the most fundamental
virtue. So that supernatural prudence, not may, but will tell us to
give up, surrender certain things because we have another purpose than those
who use these things and in life.
Ive said this before
but especially in this subject of happiness or joy, there is no substitute for
having experienced true joy. I mean this, there are many people, I can prove
it, whove never really been truly happy in their lives. I hope you believe
me. But once youve experienced this true joy you will not be satisfied with
any counterfeits. When you will talk to people, the way Im trying to talk
to you, they shake their heads, blink, but they do not understand your language.
I divide the human race into people who are living in this world and this world
only and people who are in this world but are living in eternal life. And that
is why I tell them, Look from what you are telling me I dont think you have
ever really experienced true joy. So follow my advice, try this out, a week,
three days, one day, even just one day, and see what happens. It wont be easy.
But people have come back to me and told me, Father thanks I never realized
this kind of happiness is possible, its real. I want to get on top of a mountain
If were going to be
truly happy, we must not only have the faith or keep the faith, we must grow
in our faith. In other words, were going to be only as happy as whatever we
do, we do through the eyes of faith.
To illustrate, Im
always safe when I talk about this sinner. Last night, 5:30 we have dinner
and its served till 6:30. I took a place at table, there are six men to a
table. There was one seat still left when I sat down. In my heart I thought,
wouldnt that be great if nobody comes to sit across from me because then Ill
finish in good time, smile and walk out. Just before I finished the meal one
of my very dear friends, fellow priest, sat down, hes a big man. So I looked
at his plate and said, Lord you want it. So I stayed put. Am I making sense?
So we talked and we talked until 6:30 and so I wouldnt just be patiently listening
to him and because he saw, John, dont let me stop you. So what did I do
I got an extra great big cup of Sanka. So Id take more time. In other words,
Ive got to believe or weve got to believe that everything in our lives is
planned by God. Including my, the Mass today, it was all planned by God. He
knows what a proud scoundrel is Fr. Hardon, so Ill teach him. I had two main
subjects I could give my homily on, either Our Lady of Guadalupe or humility.
I chose humility.
Second, reflect on
the faith. Meditate on the faith everyday. And it means concretely meditate
on your life as you are living it. Or the morning as you are anticipating,
God will have you live it during the coming day. So you will see God in everything.
As weve said so many
times, it is not enough to believe weve got to grasp the meaning of what we
believe. Meditation, if you people do not practice some mental prayer, some
meditation everyday Ive been wasting your time. Spend some time just talking
to our Lord about whats on your mind. All youve got to realize is Whom youre
talking to, its not yourself or someone else but God. And then practice.
In other words, live the faith and you will be happy. Remember what our Lord
told us, I came that you may have joy
who can finish the sentence, and have
? abundantly. Thats the come on. Thats way Christ gets us to do what
He wants us to do. I want to make you very happy. Gosh, do I have to do
this? Yes, what are you grousing about?
We need constant grace
for both the mind and the will. And the very last statement on the bottom of
page two, cultivate the habit of daily, frequent, conscious aspirations. I
was ready to retire last night or pardon me this morning. About to turn off
the lights, I said, Hardon, just like you. I forgot to mark in the number
of Memorares I had said yesterday, I just want to be very open with you eighty-three.
No matter what youre doing, walking down the streets, cooking a meal, combing
your hair, washing your hands, but you make some aspiration. I just hope youre
doing this. Did I threaten you, I was going to ask for a response today? Who
remembers? [We, umm, say the Morning Offering Prayer first thing we do when
we get up.] In the morning right? [Yes] Well, how many of you have copies
of the Morning Offering? Seems not everyone. Remember this is the typed, you
can peel off the back of this and paste it on your mirror for example. Everybody
have a copy? Say the Morning Offering. Look you dont get away from class
here. During the day talk to our Lord and just if you want to complain, complain.
Lord this is terrible, I dont like to do this, thats all right complain
to your hearts content, He appreciates complaints. And with that I have twenty-six
In the Name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Copyright © 2005 Institute on Religious Life
Conference transcription from a talk that Father Hardon
gave to the Institute on Religious Life
Institute on Religious Life, Inc.
PO. Box 410007
Chicago, Illinois 60641