Natural Happiness: A Philosophical Approach to Evangelization

Dave “The Dandy” VanVickle and I are talking about a philosophical approach to evangelization: natural happiness. A lot of people respond to the kerygma alone, but some really need a rational argument to understand the reason for belief in God.

To be brief, natural happiness is the idea that nothing in the world can completely satisfy us or make us happy forever, because we were made for something eternal, which is God.

We also talk a bit about parish bureaucracy and the hierarchy of the Church. Let’s just say you should pray for your parish. 

What do you think about philosophical approaches to evangelization? Do they work? Are they helpful? Comment below or email us at with your story, question, or comment—or if you’ve got a new nickname for Dave.

Snippet from the Show

“Your spouse is not sufficient to make you happy. They are a human person and your heart has an infinite longing that only an infinite God can fulfill. So if you demand your husband or wife to complete you, you are asking them to be God for you. That’s unrealistic.”


Listener Email

The reason I’m writing this is to ask a question. I do not understand how to talk about the kerygma. But I like to talk to people about natural ends.

For example someone will say, “I want more” or “I feel so incomplete,” when talking about their state in life. I say “Well what makes you happy?” And they’ll say something like their truck or their wife or something material. I of course then say, “But don’t those all fail you in some way?”

For example, having the coolest truck in the county is awesome for about 2 weeks, then you see it breaking down and causing you grief. I then bring up our desire for happiness and how it must be in something eternal. And I have seen several people say “Then what is that?” I then say that it’s God and share my story. Is this a way you would recommend or do you have ideas to improve my approach?

Five Practical Takeaways

  1. Read the Catechism on Beatitude and the Beatitudes
  2. Watch/listen to Word on Fire videos on Happiness
  3. Watch Aquinas 101 videos from Thomistic Institute
  4. Read Dr. Peter Kreeft
  5. Read Fr. Servais Pinckaers’ books: Sources of Christian Ethics and Morality the Catholic View


1 Comment

  1. Hey guys- I don’t have the same experience with churches and dioceses as you of course, but IMO you are too critical and generalizing way too much. I listen to and appreciate your insights every week, but am not a “church worker”, rather an involved parishoner (catechesis and evangelism mostly). Obviously church bureaucracy can get overloaded, but I appreciate the USCCB, their cooperative work and communication to the US, and resources offered. It carries the risk of politicization and self-protection like any organization.
    I’m not disputing Dave’s experience at all, but want to offer a different one (from KC, KS). I have been connected to my diocesan office through many initiatives and from what I’m seen, our staff and clergy are the opposite of what Dave described in the depressing diocesan meeting he was at. Our bishop, priests, diocesan staff who I am familiar with or been exposed to are ‘missionaries’ whose effectiveness depends on their prayer life. 90% are exemplary models of faith from what I’ve seen.
    Lastly, it is possible that in the meeting Dave attended, it was good leadership to have the woman open with prayer (I have no idea of dynamics of course). And, the “angry parishoner” was likely not coming from a place of deep prayer or integrated discipleship either, even if they have a legitimate concern. As I know you are aware, so many Catholics would like the church to be in their own image.
    Just offering another perspective-


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