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16: Can honors and fame make me happy?

It is impossible for happiness to consist in honor. For honor is given to a man on account of some excellence in him; and consequently it is a sign and attestation of the excellence that is in the person honored. Now a man’s excellence is in proportion, especially to his happiness, which is man’s perfect good; and to its parts, i.e. those goods by which he has a certain share of happiness. And therefore honor can result from happiness, but happiness cannot principally consist therein.

 

 

Objection 1. It would seem that man’s happiness consists in glory. For happiness seems to consist in that which is paid to the saints for the trials they have undergone in the world. But this is glory: for the Apostle says (Romans 8:18): “The sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us.” Therefore happiness consists in glory.

Reply to Objection 1. The Apostle speaks, then, not of the glory which is with men, but of the glory which is from God, with His Angels. Hence it is written (Mark 8:38): “The Son of Man shall confess him in the glory of His Father, before His angels.”

Man’s happiness cannot consist in human fame or glory. For glory consists “in being well known and praised,” as Ambrose [Augustine, Contra Maxim. Arian. ii, 13 says. Now the thing known is related to human knowledge otherwise than to God’s knowledge: for human knowledge is caused by the things known, whereas God’s knowledge is the cause of the things known.

Wherefore the perfection of human good, which is called happiness, cannot be caused by human knowledge: but rather human knowledge of another’s happiness proceeds from, and, in a fashion, is caused by, human happiness itself, inchoate or perfect. Consequently man’s happiness cannot consist in fame or glory.

On the other hand, man’s good depends on God’s knowledge as its cause. And therefore man’s beatitude depends, as on its cause, on the glory which man has with God; according to Psalm 90:15-16: “I will deliver him, and I will glorify him; I will fill him with length of days, and I will show him my salvation.”

ST I-II, Q 2. A2 & 3.

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted …
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
From the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated …
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I …
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside …
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

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