Lesson 357: "I Want to be Happy"

Soon after I was made vicar of St. Augustine’s in 1925 I began to collect money so that I might build our parish-hall. It was hard work; for it is quite as difficult to work with your brains (especially if you haven’t many) as it is with your hands. However, there are so many kind Christians in the world that in four months I had the eight thousand pounds; and our hall was built - with its stage, dance-floor, club-rooms, flat playground-roof. On the night of the day when Miss Sybil Thorndike (a famous actress) opened it, we had a dance. There were two bands; one on the stage, the other on the roof. I was looking at the merry scene from the gallery, on the wall of which, as you know, there is a crucifix. Harry Dunn, a printer and one of our churchwardens, now at rest, said to me, “I like to think of the Master looking down on us, and seeing us all so happy.”

Worship is giving God, the Master, the honour due to him. Nowadays people, at any rate in England, do not make stone idols of false gods; but there are still some who break the second commandment by having wrong ideas about God (such as thinking he is very strict, a sort of giant policeman always trying to catch people doing wrong and enjoying punishing them; or saying that Christians shouldn’t go to theatres or the pictures, like wearing nice clothes, be happy and play games on Sundays).

Worship God regularly and lovingly while you are young; put him “first on all days and in all ways”; get to know him as he really is, in church, in good people, in your right thoughts - he is so near to you always. Before long you will find out for yourself that my old friend the printer, who learned about God in his and your and my St. Augustine’s, was right; that God never wants his children, however old or young, to be unhappy; that it is quite right for Christians who go to Mass, make their confessions, say their prayers, keep the commandments, to dance, play games, have a drink now and then, wear nice clothes, enjoy life.

Those who keep the second commandment ought to be, and are meant to be, the happiest people in the world: not like camels - with perpetual humps.