The human person has a communal dimension as an essential component of his nature

Geronimo Stilton is the pen name for Italian author Elisabetta Dami. There are many books to this series and a few spinoff series. Geronimo Stilton has about three rows of shelving in my library. My oldest daughter spent many months of her childhood only getting these books from the library, and my youngest son gets them often. I have only read three of the books, so my opinion is quite limited, considering there are easily over 100 books about Geronimo Stilton.

The central concept is Geronimo Stilton, a rat, is the editor and publisher of the newspaper The Rodent’s Gazette. Geronimo goes on wild adventures to many places. These books have the author listed as Geronimo Stilton because they are written as a memoir of his adventures to these places. However, the most exciting concept about these books is not the adventures themselves but his relationship with his sister Thea, cousin Trap, and nephew Benjamin. The community Geronimo formed for his life is what made these books enjoyable.

Discussion on Community: In an age of technology, we seem to downplay the importance of true community and relationships. We saw this with COVID restrictions where technological communications were considered equal to actual social interactions. They are not.

I am old enough to remember the beginning of social media. I remember being so excited that I could connect to people from high school or be in contact more often with friends that I typically only see a few times a year. What I have learned is that I enjoy people face to face. We can get together, have a meal, and have fun and interesting conversations. I appreciate their company and I would say we are friends. Then I read their posts on social media, and I don’t like what they have to say. I find them abrasive, and I judge them in ways I would never do face to face. Social media does not unite us. We need to get off the apps and meet in person, to establish a true sense of community.

The Compendium of the Catholic Church states, “the human person has a communal dimension as an essential component of his nature” (401).

One study showed this significantly. The Harvard Study of Adult Development followed 1,300 people for over 80 years (and still continues today). The number one factor in determining happiness and joy in a lifetime is a well-established community of relationships.

“Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives, the study revealed. Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes. That finding proved true across the board among both the Harvard men and the inner-city participants.”

Harvard Study

Yale currently teaches a class called The Happiness Lab. Their research found that an income of $100,000 was the cut-off of increasing happiness. There is no difference in happiness if someone went from $100,000 to $600,000 (or more) of income. Having our essential needs met like housing, food, and clothing is vital to happiness, but having an excess or abundance of these things does not increase our happiness. The Yale study found that religious practices, reflecting on our lives, and connecting with other people increased happiness the most.

The class professor tries to downplay religion in happiness when she said, “Turns out, to the extent that you can disentangle those two, it seems to not be our beliefs but our actions that are driving the fact that religious people are happier.”

I don’t believe her theory is testable, as I would argue that we can never disentangle beliefs from our actions. For a religious person, it is the belief (and love) of God that drives our dedication to the religious practices, which apparently is a source of happiness.

Reading Geronimo Stilton’s books brought the importance of community and relationships to someone’s well-being. Geronimo’s moments with his sister, nephew, and cousin brought the best out of Geronimo and not his exciting travel adventures. However, there can be cons to relationships. St. Therese of Lisieux has some advice:

More advice from the bible:

Col 3:13: Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Gal 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Prv 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.

Mt 18:20 For where two or three gather in my name, I [Jesus] am with them.

Heb 10:24-25 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

1 Pt 4:9-10 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

Eccl 4:9-12 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Eph 4:2-3 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

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