Letting go and finding contentment in 2013 - Catholic Courier

Letting go and finding contentment in 2013

What might be a refreshing, unique resolution for the new year? May I suggest we use a seldom-used means for increasing true joyful contentment? It’s called detachment.

In the Gospel of St. Matthew we read of children playing their flutes but nobody dancing, John the Baptist heralding the good news and being labeled a demon, and the Son of Man seen as a drunkard. No matter how good and well-meaning the actions of Jesus and John the Baptist, or anyone else, discontentment runs through the crowds.

Discontentment permeates life. We may be discontent over the government, the church, world events, our spouse, children or the direction life is going. The list of discontent is endless. None of us can escape its clutches.

Once in its grasp, ill disposition follows, endangering a spirit of kindness that is well-disposed toward self, life and God. Discontentment, on the other hand, sours our disposition, drains its loving spirit and casts a dark cloud over us.

The word “content” means to be filled, implying we have no desire for anything in addition. It encourages us to see the glass half full rather than half empty, and to count our blessings.

What is an effective way to cultivate contentment?

The mystic St. John of the Cross would encourage us to rid ourselves of inordinate attachments that weigh us down. The more we have, the more they take possession of us, the more we desire them. Once in the mood of seeking more attachments, we become discontent.

By their nature, inordinate attachments cultivate selfishness and enslave us in a self-centered world that is never satisfied.

When we let go of an attachment, it leaves room for God’s love to flourish. Equally true, it opens us up to others and God’s creation. We become more outward looking and less tied to our world. Our vision is enlarged, as are our hearts.

It goes without saying that mass media marketing is forever encouraging us to treat ourselves to the best. Once we have the best, we are encouraged to look for something even better, to never be content.

As we enter 2013, how about letting go of just one little attachment that is dear to us and see what happens?

My guess is we will almost never hear the words “self-denial” in 2013, but advertisers will tell you, “Don’t deny yourself, get it now while there is time.”

Self-denial not only has its place in the spiritual life, but equally true, it contains the key to creating true happiness in the new year.

Father Hemrick is a columnist for Catholic News Service.

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