OTTAWA (CCN)—In a land of permafrost, how does one create a base of joy, of happiness that is deep and durable, a type of permajoy?
Opus Dei Vicar Msgr. Fred Dolan posed that question to a small group of MPs, Senators and guests gathered in the Parliamentary restaurant Dec. 10 under the auspices of the St. Thomas More Society. Regina-Q’Appelle Conservative MP Andrew Scheer, who is deputy Speaker of the House, hosted the luncheon meeting.
While life on Parliament Hill involves conflict, it is great to keep in mind that we are meant to be happy, Dolan said.
Many people encounter stress in workplaces because they are treated like machines, as mere means of production, because results are considered to be more important than human beings, he said.
Dolan recognized the constant temptation in high pressure environments to focus on results, but he urged everyone to make a special effort to “never see people as machines” and to see they are blessed by the persons working with them.
“In any given organization, the person who heads up the office has a lot to do with setting the tone,” the monsignor said.
Dolan blamed 19th Century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche for much of the damage to present-day culture because of his narrow this-world focus and rejection of belief in God or anything transcendent beyond the here-and-now. Nietzsche emphasized power and domination, he said.
For permajoy, Dolan stressed generosity and the desire to serve instead.
Opus Dei founder St. Josemaria Escriva used a couple of phrases that Dolan said he found helpful in building permajoy in his life.
The first is Alma, calma!, which Dolan translated as “with soul and with calmness.” This means living a life full of soul, or gusto, passion and courage, but at the same time, living it with serenity, he said.
“It is possible to be effective at work and at the same time produce around you an atmosphere of serenity,” he said.
Those words remind him that he can carry out his work with serenity and find a way to “transmit that peace of life to those around me,” Dolan said.
The second helpful phrase is Per servire, servire, which can be rendered “to be useful, serve,”
“Unless I serve others I am of no use to them,” Dolan said. “To lead means to serve by discovering and developing the talents of others.”
“How can I be useful and have a chance to create an atmosphere of joy?” he asked.
Dolan spoke about his father, who lives in Bethesda, Maryland and who has been “wildly oriented to service” all his life. He visited 10 years ago when Dolan first came to Canada. Upon arrival he insisted that they go to Canadian Tire so he could fill up his son’s trunk with emergency gear in case of a blizzard.
After he had put the batteries in the new flashlight and “tested the crampons,” he noticed his son scratching his leg. Dolan’s father asked him what was wrong. “It itches” was enough for him to insist that they jump back in the car and go to a pharmacy, where he bought two industrial size bottles of Keri lotion.
“It goes way back,” Dolan said. “The game begins; he is trying to find something I need.”
A desire to serve changes everything about the atmosphere around us, he said.
“Everyone has the right to crave joy,” he said. “It’s the whole name of the game.”
He challenged those present to build up a “layer of joy so deep that nothing can dislodge it.”
The original article appeared in the Dec 28-Jan 4 issue of the Catholic Register on page 13.