Reflections on the Spitzer Center's Programs from the Diocese of Phoenix



Fr. Robert Spitzer on the Priestly Vocation


Fr. Robert Spitzer Debates the Question, "Did God Create the Universe?" on Larry King Live


The Four Levels of Happiness®

Four Levels of Happiness

Happiness is the only goal that people pursue for its own sake, which makes it an ideal lens for explaining why people and organizations behave as they do. Put simply, happiness can be sought at higher or lower levels that either lift us up or drag us down.


The Four Levels of Happiness model aligns well with the Christian view of the human person. While all the levels are good, happiness becomes more pervasive, enduring and deep as one goes up the scale. Level Four represents the perfect, unrestricted and eternal happiness that comes from union with God. The grace of divine love also helps individuals and groups to enjoy the lower levels in a healthy way.


The Four Levels model is also a practical tool for organizational growth. It shows leaders how to elevate the powerful drive for happiness and direct it toward contribution over comparison, trust over suspicion, and optimism over pessimism. Click here for a full description of the Four Levels.



June 27, 2017


Presentation on Creation Draws Large Crowd


Bison Catholic held an event on Wednesday that gathered so many students that the event was moved into the Memorial Union Plains Room to hold them all.

Originally slated for the smaller Prairie Room, Friar Robert Spitzer’s “Creation’s Case for God” presentation drew an audience of mixed beliefs and interests.

“Every oscillating universe...every single, solitary one of them has a beginning,” Spitzer said.

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Peer to Promotion


I used to go out to lunch with a co-worker, but I’ve been promoted to manager and my boss has made it clear that he does not consider socializing “between the ranks” to be appropriate. How do I handle this with my co-worker?

You’ve been promoted to manager because you’ve demonstrated good judgment. In our Catholic tradition, the habit of good judgment is called the virtue of prudence – the perfected ability of right decision-making. Prudence is THE master virtue which helps us to be fair, courageous, and self disciplined. Prudence is smart, purposeful, and practical.

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An Amazing Creation: When Science and Faith Meet


Jesuit Father Robert Spitzer – a philosopher, accountant, former university president and leadership consultant – always has had a fascination with the intersection of faith and reason.

He’s smart enough to have debated physicist Stephen Hawking, an avowed atheist, on national television over the scientific underpinnings of the beginning of the universe and the theological arguments for the existence of God.

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Bah Humbug! Holiday Party Curve Ball

Our office invited clients and all of the workers to a holiday party – it sounded great until I found out we are supposed to work doing things like checking coats, etc. And of course, it’s all gratis – the dinner is our only pay. Is this fair?
Sounds like the party is more for clients than for employees, but then again – without clients there are no employees.
Maybe you can reframe your fairness concern.
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From Desire to Decision


When we speak about Level Four happiness we are referring to our powers of self-transcendence.  This transcendence is awareness of and desire for fulfillment in unconditional and perfect Truth, Love, Goodness/Justice, Beauty, and Harmony/Peace. But this desire does not, in and of itself, constitute faith in God or a relationship with Him.  However, it does form the interior basis for such a relationship.



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Chatty Cathy Co-Worker


One of my co-workers does nothing but chat all day – she comes to my office door and just won’t shut up. What do I do? - Beth.
Seems really simple. But let me defer to my very old philosopher friend, Socrates. He invented the Socratic method of asking really good questions.
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What is Love?


Choosing the Happiness 3 is the beginning of Happiness 3. Happiness 3 finds its fruition in love. In order to explain this, it is necessary to give an initial definition of love. Love is looking for the good news in the other, leading to the acceptance of the other as a lovable self, giving rise to the desire to be with the other and to do good for the other, giving rise to a unity with the other, whereby it is just as easy (if not easier) to do good for the other as to do it for self, which yields mutual acceptance, shared being and doing, and interpersonal unity.
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My Husband is in the Army

My husband is in the Army. I work in an office where many people oppose the war, and seem to think all members of the military are violent thugs. I am hurt when I hear anti-military comments – what can I do?
You’re to be commended for your loyalty both to your husband and his colleagues in arm who defend our nation. The hurt that you feel is provoked not by mere ego sensitivity, but by noble sentiments. You hurt for right reasons and this speaks well of you.


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My Favorite Prayer

God’s unconditional Love makes the prayer of the publican continuously efficacious:  “God, be merciful to me a sinner” (L.k. 18:13). As Jesus indicates, “this man went down to his house justified” (v. 14). Yet, there is even more to forgiveness in Christian life than the beauty of justification through God’s unconditional Love. Two prayers may help to bring out these richer dimensions.


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Dirty Dishes

One of my coworkers keeps leaving dirty dishes on the counter or in the sink of our lunch room. We have a dishwasher, but he never seems to be able to get the dishes into it. I’m sick of picking up after him, but I can’t stand the sight of the dishes after a while. How do I handle this?
How about offering him the standard grocery checkout options: Paper or Plastic?
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Prayers for Forgiveness

God’s unconditional Love makes the prayer of the publican continuously efficacious:  “God, be merciful to me a sinner” (L.k. 18:13). As Jesus indicates, “this man went down to his house justified” (v. 14). Yet, there is even more to forgiveness in Christian life than the beauty of justification through God’s unconditional Love. Two prayers may help to bring out these richer dimensions.


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I give up, Lord. You take care of it.


Sometimes life gets out of control. No matter how hard we try to obviate free-fall or to figure ourselves out, life’s circumstances seem to get the better of us. It is at these moments that I recommend the above prayer, which I have put to great use throughout my life.
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I am being 'guilt-tripped' into giving up my sick time


Q. One of my co-workers is ill and will be off for a while. We have been told we can donate sick time to her. It’s not that I am unfeeling, but I’m afraid that if I donate, I won’t have enough time if I become ill myself. We’re getting a lot of pressure – am I obligated to do this?

A. Let’s be clear about something. You are by no means obligated to donate your sick time. You are not being unfeeling or unjust to not do so.
In my view, this is a right-hearted, but wrong-headed policy. Like pay grade and vacation days, sick time is an individual matter and should be managed as such. The practice you describe confuses the lines and creates a bartering and loan system. No wonder you feel such mixed feelings of pressure and false guilt. Mixed message = mixed feelings.


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The Smartest Person on Earth

Fr. Spitzer would beg to differ. But that descriptor was one of many in-kind written comments from 130 priests of the Archdiocese of Denver.
The event – their annual clergy convocation. The topic – giving spiritual direction. And the speaker was dubbed “ a very wise man, and experienced.”
What a gathering!  I could listen to Fr. Spitzer for a week!
Spitzer was engaging, informative, affirming and down to earth.  Good choice!
Motivated me to continue my studies in Spiritual Direction
Outstanding – I could listen and learn from him for a long time.
One of the best we’ve had in years. 
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My friend lied on his resume I don’t want to recommend him for a job


Q. A friend gave me his resume to pass along to my boss, and it’s overinflated. in fact, there are downright falsehoods on it. He’s already sent this out to other employers. Should I confront him?

You probably won’t confront him, because you haven’t already. I’m guessing it’s for one or more of three reasons:

1.    He’s not that good a friend.
2.    The falsehoods aren’t that big.
3.    You’re thinking 'confrontation.'

Friendship The best form of friendship helps each person become better. These types are marked by mutual love and honesty. Make up your mind. What kind of friendship do you really want?


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The Four Levels of Happiness:

A Perfect Response to a Perfect Call


The Spitzer Center’s core message on happiness was spread to two large parishes during this recent Lenten season. St. Albert the Great in North Royalton, Ohio is the largest parish (4900 members) in the diocese of Cleveland. St. Columbkille is one of the largest in the diocese of Omaha, NE.
The Four Levels of Happiness, Happiness and Virtue, and Happiness and Prayer were the three themes for the three nights. Attendance ranged from 400-800 each evening. Jim Berlucchi was the featured speaker during the evening programs which featured vespers at St. Albert and night prayer at St. Columbkille.
Fr. Edward Estok, pastor of St. Albert the Great, reflects on the impact of the mission here:
The Four Levels of Happiness in the context of our spiritual lives is a perfect response to the call to the new evangelization. I am recommending it to other Catholic pastors and leaders.
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My Search for Happiness


The following story is offered by a parishioner who attended one of the missions.
My life journey could run as a mini-series on the Four Levels of Happiness. And thankfully it’s a story of moving up the scale – to a happiness that is now truly pervasive, enduring and deep.
I grew up in a very broken home, in a family where abuse and dysfunction were an everyday occurrence. As I entered my teenage years I chased after the happiness of immediate physical gratification (Happiness Level One). I pursued it with zeal – alcohol, promiscuity, and other unmentionable conduct. Somehow I thought I could achieve happiness, in a frantic search for easy-come, easy-go comfort to bury the pain ever so present.
Still unsatisfied, I wanted more.  I switched from first gear to second – seeking Level Two satisfaction. The respect and prestige of a good career looked enticing. So I became highly educated and was awarded an enviable position, title and salary. Not stopping there, I added marriage to my happiness plan, and embarked upon raising a family of my own.
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Archdiocese of New Orleans Embarks on a Journey to Excellence 

It’s observable and duly noted: “The chancery staff of the Archdiocese of New Orleans is a happy group.” So commented Jim Berlucchi, after delivering a Four Levels of Happiness day-long seminar to 140 staff members on February 17. The in-service day was the first step in the Spitzer Center's Journey to Excellence program, with a second day to be held in the fall. Read More �

Will an Office Crush Ruin My Life?

Q. I have developed a completely inappropriate crush on my new boss. He’s married, so I know he’s off limits. How do I deal with my feelings without causing problems at my job?

 A. Feelings of attraction are commonplace and we all sometimes experience unruly desires. Sometimes the best way to conquer an inappropriate desire is to ask yourself – What it would be like if it were fulfilled? Read More �

The Really Unusual Thing About Tim Tebow

It would be quite a stretch to suggest that God is a Denver Broncos fan, but it’s not far-fetched to imagine that He takes pleasure in Tim Tebow. God honors those who honor him, which Tebow does unabashedly. Perhaps He repays that honor by answering Tebow’s gridiron prayers, and perhaps He doesn’t. I would guess that God has higher concerns than the outcome of sporting events. Despite his highly competitive nature, the same can be said of Tebow. Read More �

All Creation Rejoices: A Christmas Memory from Fr. Spitzer

In Five Pillars of the Spiritual Life, Fr. Robert Spitzer discusses the faith journey that led him to the priesthood. One memorable moment in that journey came on a Christmas Day when he was just 12 years old. Here’s the story as Fr. Spitzer relates it. Read More �

Penn State Scandal Reflects a Flaw Found in Many Organizations

Entering the gym last week, I was greeted by Ryan, the normally cheerful manager and head trainer. Ryan is a former college football player who volunteers as a high school coach. His chipper manner and optimism always pick me up, but on this day, I could see he wasn’t himself. “What a sad, sad story,” he murmured, with a nod toward a TV reporting the Penn State scandal. “And it’s only getting worse,” he added. Read More �

Fr. Spitzer's Three Steps to Accepting God’s Forgiveness

As Director of my parish’s RCIA program, it was my job to oversee the intellectual and spiritual formation of adults seeking to enter the Catholic Church. One year, I had a very interesting person come through the program, an elderly gentleman I’ll call “Douglas.” Douglas had been flirting with the idea of converting his entire life, but he told me that he had put it off because he had a lot of “unresolved issues” with Catholicism. Read More �

The Cure for Superficial Faith

Fr. Spitzer writes, "It’s impossible to know God and to love God if you’re not really sure He exists. This radical uncertainty is a problem for many Catholics, and our culture often makes the problem worse by belittling faith as unscientific.  The result can be a faith so weakened by doubt it becomes “Pascalian” – a mere wager that God is real, as opposed to a deep conviction that He is at work in our lives.  So how does one get beyond superficial faith to build a real relationship with God? I think that there are three blocks that have to be removed to make way for spiritual growth."  Read More �

The Four Levels and Steve Jobs

The Four Levels of Happiness® provides a great lens for looking closer at people and news. For example, it can help to explain why the passing of Steve Jobs had such an impact on so many people around the world. Jobs was the preeminent icon of the digital revolution, and he has been likened to inventive and entrepreneurial geniuses like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Walt Disney.  But I would suggest that his impact and success came down to happiness. That was Jobs’ real product, and he delivered quite a lot of it. Read More �