Father Geiermann discusses how a person’s moral growth is directed to his happiness:
“Moral growth consists in the development of the threefold moral good, of nature, of grace, and of merit. Man is born into this world with some natural goodness. He is born to the supernatural life and clothed with grace in holy Baptism. . . . By prayer and fidelity to his good intention he continually enlarges his capacity for grace—which God ever gives to all of good will—and grows in merit and the practice of virtue. . . . Growth in virtue is ever the infallible test of a good will. ‘By their fruits,’ said the Saviour, ‘you shall know them.’ Hence, as life is necessarily a journey ever onward, so man’s moral development should correspond to his temporal progress. As life is activity, man can not come to a deliberate moral standstill. If he does not progress, he must recede. If he does not ascend, he will descend. When our Saviour, therefore, exhorted us to be perfect. He emphasized a law that was already written in our very nature.”
“Happiness consists in enjoying the true, the good, and the beautiful under the most favorable circumstances. . . . In this life three factors contribute to human happiness: (1) the subordination of man’s lower nature to reason enlightened by faith; (2) the possession of physical health and of the ordinary comforts of life; (3) the favorable surroundings of friendship, especially of the friendship of God.”
But, he notes: “The circumstances of earth and time are not the most favorable for human happiness. God has, therefore, implanted in the human heart a longing for an endless possession of an infinite good which is the infinite treasure of heaven. . . . In heaven the degree of our happiness will be proportionate to the degree of moral growth or the Christian perfection we attain in this life.”
“The secret, then, of true happiness is (1) to rise above our natural selves, (2) to be indifferent to all earthly and temporal things, and (3) to learn to love God with all our mind and heart and strength, because He is the eternal Truth, the infinite Good, the uncreated Beauty.”
Quotations from Peter Geiermann, The Narrow Way (New York: Benziger, 1914).