31 Dec 2015 Q&A No comments

What is the difference between doctrine and dogma?

Full Question I have heard that the teaching on Mary as Mediatrix of All Graces is official Catholic doctrine but not a dogma of faith. I am not clear on t…

Read more

28 Jun 2016 Americas Europe News United Kingdom USA Vatican Comments (1)

Cardinal jokes about England’s exit from Euro 2016

South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier took to Twitter to joke about England’s humiliating exit from the European Championships in France. On Monday night Eng…

Read more

06 Nov 2015 Asia-Pacific News No comments

Burmese Cardinal applauds his country's elections

Myanmar have not in decades before now experienced a free, fair and peaceful election. Burmeses are very happy of the fact that their nation have come to that l…

Read more

11 Dec 2014 Q&A Comments (2)

What can you tell me about the New World Translation?

Full Question Two Jehovah's Witnesses recently came to my door and discussed some Scripture verses with me from the New World Translation of the Bible. I'v…

Read more

05 Oct 2015 News Vatican No comments

Did Pope Francis say atheists can do good and make heaven too?

The director of the Holy See press office has issued a statement in response to Vatican official Msgr. Krzysztof Charamsa's declaration in a recent interview th…

Read more

26 Feb 2016 Europe News No comments

Oldest Catholic university in U.K. establishes Pope Benedict XVI Center approved by the Vatican

St Mary’s University Twickenham, a Catholic teacher training institution has setup a “Benedict XVI Center" for research into religion and social sciences. The n…

Read more

21 Sep 2015 Americas News No comments

In Cuba, Pope Francis urges youth to hope and dream for the future

Pope Francis set aside his prepared remarks to respond to the dreams and hopes of young people who spoke to him in Cuba on Sunday evening. “I took notes," he…

Read more

05 Sep 2015 News USA Comments (1)

The Catholic University of America anticipates Pope Francis' visit

The Catholic University of America is full of enthusiastic and hopeful spirits as the papal visit to Washington D.C. comes closer. In about three weeks, …

Read more

01 Mar 2016 Middle East - Africa News No comments

Pope to Ethiopian Orthodox leader: The martyrs and saints of all the ecclesial traditions are one in Christ

Pope Francis received Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Pope Matthias I, at the Vatican on Monday 29 February. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewa…

Read more
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Does God promise us happiness here on Earth?

Full Question

I have a friend that says God does not promise us happiness. But I have read in Psalm 41:1-4 that God makes us happy when we are concerned for the poor. Can we claim this as a promise if we take care of the poor?


There are a couple of things to be said here. First, Psalm 41:1-4 expresses in general terms how God deals with those who care for the poor. It does not translate into a specific promise to a specific individual.

For example, verse 4 says that God will sustain them on their sickbed and heal them of their illnesses. This may be how God operates in general, but it does not mean that an individual who has cared for the poor has a specific promise that he in particular will be healed of a particular illness. After all, we all die sometime, and if we had an automatic guarantee of healing in exchange for giving to the poor, medical science and human life spans would be quite different than they are.

Second, broadly speaking, we might speak of two general sorts of happiness—material and spiritual. Material happiness is what we receive from material good fortune—health, prosperity, etc. Spiritual happiness is what we receive from spiritual good fortune—grace and forgiveness, performing works of mercy, and in the next life attaining the beatific vision of God.

When people say that God has not promised us happiness, they usually mean that God has not promised us material happiness in this life. In this life we may have to undergo suffering, even great suffering. But God has promised spiritual happiness, especially in the next life, to all who follow him.

It would seem that when your friend said that God does not promise us happiness, he was referring to the material happiness. And in that regard he is right. God has, however, promised you spiritualhappiness for doing this since it is a corporal work of mercy when done out of love for God. While you can’t translate Psalm 41:1–4 into a promise of material happiness to you personally, you can know thatin general God does increase the material happiness of those who care for the needs of the poor.

Catholic Answers Staff


Leave a Reply

  1. most read post
  2. Most Commented
  3. Choose Categories