Sole to Soul: An invitation to genuine happiness

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IN HIS book “Sole to Soul,” former UST rector Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P. gives a subtle critique on the egoistic and materialistic attitude prevailing in the society, stressing simplicity and gratitude as paths to happiness.

The book is a compilation of his columns published in the Manila Bulletin, which are reflections on social issues and Sunday Gospels.

The title alludes to man’s restless feet (sole) and anxious spirit (soul) as one desperately seeks complete happiness in the modern world.

“Many people today are unhappy. It’s not really a formula for being joyful but to make people aware of what causes their unhappiness. If you know the cause of the problem, it’s already half solved,” he told the Varsitarian.

With society and media seeking to dictate what would make people happy, de la Rosa urges his readers to focus on life’s essentials: family, friends and the moments made precious by their presence.

Technology and social media only increases one’s worries and impedes people’s ability to create healthy relationships, de la Rosa argues.

For him, the obsession for control and other utilitarian ends only aggravate people’s frustrations, making them susceptible to despair.

“The alarming rate of suicides around the world is perhaps one of the pitfalls of progress. Thanks to our technological society’s fascination with disposability and instantaneity, life itself has become disposable; death, an instant escape from, or solution to life’s problems; and love, a facile excuse for suicide,” he writes.

Sole to Soul invites its readers to reject society’s standards, which only exalts the attractive, rich and successful, rather than a relationship with God.

Simply put, the three-time rector was echoing St. Thomas Aquinas, who said: “Our constant bickering will only be satisfied if we direct our lives to God whose other name is Happiness.”

In a world where suicide rates continue to increase, mutual suspicion arises between groups, and anxiety grips the members of society, de la Rosa’s book serves as a reliable companion and a timely reminder that the pursuit toward happiness is no different from the path to holiness.

“Sole to Soul” is de la Rosa’s third book and is published by St. Paul’s.

His other books include “Beginnings of the Filipino Dominicans” which won the National Book Award for History, the Manila Critics Circle Award and Catholic Authors Award, and “We Become What We Love.”

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