“Happiness is not to be found in material goods [because] such goods cannot satisfy man. This is clear on many scores….Material goods, as being the lowest in the order of nature, do not contain all goodness but possess only a portion of goodness.” –From “Sermon in a Sentence: A Treasury of Quotations on the Spiritual Life; Vol. 5: St. Thomas Aquinas” pg. 53. Selected and Arranged by John P. McClernon.
This is something we really ought to know and realize better than we do. Our own experience tells us that happiness cannot consist in material goods. Food perishes or is eaten and passed through our bodies, never to be enjoyed again. Shiny new boxes and packages soon grow old and moth-eaten, their contents long since used and abandoned. New articles of clothing wear out and fade. Our garbage dumps are full of items we thought would bring us happiness. Once we realized their true value and their deceptive lies about bringing us contentment, we tossed them out. But don’t you know it…our houses are still full of these items. The typical thing for us to do is to think, “Well, that one didn’t work out, but I’ll just get the latest version/fashion/update to this product and I will be happy at last!” The media feeds this reaction. We are determined, for some reason, to find our happiness in these things we can see and touch and hear.
What we fail to remember is that the senses, too, pass away. Those channels by which we receive our enjoyment of the material goods of this world also grow weary and die. Sound and sight are two of the first to weaken. As we age, we lose each one of these senses or at least experience a weakening of their power. Perhaps this is part of God’s will–that as we draw closer to death, we should become less attached to the use of our senses and instead focus on heaven. Whatever the reason, we cannot keep all of our senses throughout even the entirety of our lives, much less through eternity! And with our senses perishes also the enjoyment we receive from material goods.
And why do we not get what we so desperately seek from them? Because they ‘possess only a portion of goodness.’ God is our only Good, and in Him is all goodness. It only makes sense that each of his creatures has a portion of goodness, then. What we seek is in God alone. Our souls were created for nothing less than the fullness of the goodness of God. Let us remember that this Lent and every day of the year–to be detached from the partial goods of this earth to attach ourselves firmly to God, Goodness Itself.