Bishop Boyea's Invitation to Happiness

Bishop Earl Boyea would like to invite you to discover the surest path to happiness over the coming weeks.

“Happiness. Everybody in our society seems to be seeking it. Yet very few seem to find it. So where is true happiness to be found?” writes Bishop Boyea, February 11.

“With confidence, we can answer in just four words: Life with Jesus Christ. But how do we best embrace that happiness in our own lives? And how do we share that beautiful truth with others?”

“To help answer those questions, I would like to invite you to join me, and thousands of others from across our great diocese, at a half-day presentation on The Four Levels of Happiness by the Spitzer Center.” The four presentations will take place at:

* March 28: Father Gabriel Richard High School, Ann Arbor
* April 18: Lumen Christi High School, Jackson
* April 25: Powers Catholic High Schools, Flint
* May 2: Lansing Catholic High School, Lansing
* For more details go to:

The Four Levels of Happiness program has been developed by the popular American philosopher, Father Robert Spitzer SJ, who is President of the Spitzer Center of Ethical Leadership which was founded in Ann Arbor in 2005.

Father Spitzer bases his work upon the Greek philosopher Aristotle (394-322 B.C.) who observed that no person deliberately chooses to be unhappy. If this is the case, says Aristotle, then all human beings do, indeed, wish to be happy and the search for happiness should lead us to look at what kinds of happiness there might be and whether these types might be logically rank-ordered. Using the traditional Latin terminology, Aristotle’s categorizations of happiness, which were later adopted by many Christian philosophers, can be ranked in ascending order thus:

1. Laetus: This happiness comes from immediate gratification. For example, happiness gained from food or drink.

2. Felix: This happiness comes from comparative or personal achievement. For example, happiness gained from wealth, qualifications or status.

3. Beatitudo: This happiness comes from seeing the good in others and doing the good for others. This level of happiness recognizes that Felix is insufficient for either personal or communal happiness.

4. Sublime Beatitudo: This happiness reaches for fullness of goodness, truth, beauty and love and, thus the perfection of happiness. This level of happiness recognizes that Beatitudo is finite and, thus, limited but points to something greater still.

According to the claims of Christianity, premised upon both faith and reason, creation has a meaning and purpose and so do each one of us as creatures. The central aspect of God is love and this was the reason for the incarnation of God in His son, Jesus Christ. Only God in Jesus is perfect and, according to Christianity, our ultimate happiness is found in relationship with God through Jesus – in prayer, the sacraments, obedience to his teachings etc. – who overcame sin, that is, separation from God.