In The Catholic Advantage: Why Health, Happiness, and Heaven Await the Faithful (Image, March 3, 2015), the controversial president of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue, provides proof and explanation for why religion is integrally tied to well-being.
For the purposes of the book, Donohue looks at people of faith through the Catholic prism. His examples include practicing Catholics, saints, nuns, and priests. Alternatively, when examining the behaviors of agnostics and atheists, Donohue focuses primarily on two groups: Hollywood celebrities and intellectuals.
“The greatest joy that Catholicism offers is the prospect of achieving salvation,” writes Donohue. And the good news, according to Donohue, is that the teachings of the Church provide a veritable road map to heaven while also providing benefits such as good health and happiness.
In Part One, Donohue focuses on health. Here he explores the role of beliefs, bonds, and boundaries and the benefits that accrue for Catholics in terms of physical and mental health.
“There is a strong positive correlation between religion and well-being,” according to Donohue, and he has statistics to back him up. The 2012 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index (one of the largest studies ever done on well-being) found that “Americans who are the most religious scored the highest on the well-being scale.”
In Part Two, Donohue focuses on happiness. Here, Donohue’s findings show that there is something lacking from the conventional understanding of happiness and how best to achieve it. When surveying happiness, Pew researchers found that “people who attend religious services weekly or more are happier (43%) than those who attend monthly or less (31%); or seldom or never (26%).”
Thus, “the right recipe for human happiness is not found in abandoning our inhibitions,” writes Donohue.
“It is found in abandoning ourselves to God.”
Part Three looks at heaven. “It is always risky to discuss who is the most likely to make it to heaven,” writes Donohue. “Only God knows for sure. But we are not without reasonable benchmarks in making such assessments. Surely it makes sense to believe that those who have given themselves totally, and sincerely, to the Lord have to be at the front of the line.”
In examining heaven and what it takes to get there, Donohue looks at the types of people who are more likely to demonstrate altruistic or charitable behavior. For examples he offers well known saints, those who risked their lives to recue Jews during the Holocaust, and Frederick Ozanam, founder of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society.
In linking altruism and charitable acts to the path to heaven, Donohue cites Mother Teresa who said: “One thing will always secure heaven for us: the acts of charity and kindness with which we have filled our lives.”
In conclusion, Donohue drives home the thesis that people of faith are likely to be healthier and happier than their non-religious counterparts and that the Catholic Church has the formula (the Three B’s) for achieving health, happiness and ultimately heaven.
“It makes no sense whatsoever to pretend that we do not know what works,” writes Donohue. “Quite frankly, it is in everyone’s interest to make the Catholic advantage more accessible to the public.”
“If the prescription for the Three H’s is widely distributed, then it’s a sure bet that health and happiness will follow,” says Donohue. “More important, it’s likely that the pearly gates will open just as widely.”
About the author
DR. WILLIAM A. DONOHUE is the president and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation’s largest Catholic civil rights organization. The publisher of the Catholic League journal, Catalyst, Donohue is also a former Bradley Resident Scholar at The Heritage Foundation and served for two decades on the board of directors of the National Association of Scholars. A formidable TV presence, Donohue has authored several books on civil liberties, social issues, and Catholicism.
To request a review copy or to schedule an interview with Bill Donohue, please contact Katie Moore, publicist, firstname.lastname@example.org, 719-268-1936.