The following is taken from the Christmas Letter of Joseph Duffy, Director of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Patterson, NJ:
Sister Anna Marie Nadeau died at the age of 91. In life people said she always had a smile on her face. Her daily journal was found after her death, and with it, the secret of her ever-present smile. At the end of each day Sister Anna would write down one Joy she experienced that day. Sister Anna truly believed that even on the worst day, there is at least one joy.
Ending your day by identifying one joy, and acknowledging it as a gift from God will have a marvelous effect on you and those you touch. It did for Sister Anna and for those she touched. What better time could there be to start this practice in your life today!
. . . .
. . . The 15th century mystic, Julian of Norwich said: “The greatest honor you can give to God is to live joyfully because of the knowledge of His love.” So, if you have trouble at first picking out a single joy, think about a time in the day when God sent you a sign of his love — there is joy.
On this 3rd Sunday of the Advent Season when the “pink candle is lighted” on the Advent Wreath — when clergy can wear rose vesture — A Sunday referred to as Gaudete Sunday or Rejoice Sunday — we are called to rejoice always — today, tomorrow — everyday.
I am confident that for most of us, things are rather good right now. Despite questionable news on the economy, most people seem to be shopping at a pace higher than in recent years. People are buying things for themselves and for others. Homes are decorated with the bright lights of the Season.
For some people — we know these are tough times. Some folks right here in our midst are struggling financially. Some people are dealing with difficult relationships. Some are battling serious illness. Literally, everything is not right in the world — and in the lives of some people.
In the midst of everything, the Scripture is calling us to Rejoice — always. Not with giddiness or superficial greetings…not with a silly smile on our faces. We are not asked to ignore the challenges around us. But, we are called to feel a deep, intense sense of joy — a joy that will inspire hope.
The joy we are challenged to feel — is a conviction that comes from deep within us, that God is near — and all is well. The joy we are called to reflect is a sense of hope that better days are still to come.
Perhaps this weekend’s Gospel [Luke 3:10-18] offers direction as to what we must “do” to know this joy –when different groups asked John the Baptist “what should we do?”, he responded:
1) Share with others — share your extra cloak, share your food — want to feel good — help somebody else — as you shop, think of what a little gift might mean to someone else. Give something without expecting anything in return — give to someone who cannot give anything in return — maybe they will say, “thank you” … maybe not …. do something good because it is the right thing to do.
2) Be Fair — do not cheat anyone — give a just days work for a day’s pay … treat others like you want to be treated.
3) Be honest — tell the truth — know when enough is enough — look into the mirror and feel good about yourself. Speak well about others.
St. Paul sums it all up [Philippians 4:4-7]: Your kindness should be known to all!
Maybe this joy we are called to experience — isn’t so impossible after all. Maybe if we focus and simplify our lives — if we realize that we are loved … and that there are others who want us to love them — just maybe then, we will “figure it all out” …. and know true joy.
Remember that happiness is a feeling that can come and go depending on what is happening around us — our team wins, we are happy … our team loses, we are not so happy. The sun shines on our plans … we are happy —- it rains when we plan an outdoor event … we are not so happy. Joy on the other hand … is a feeling, a power, from within that is there regardless of what happens “out there”. JOY IS BETTER THAN HAPPINESS.
So: take time this week … maybe for a lifetime .. and keep a “joy log” … note your joy of the day — a time when you felt loved. 2) Find ways to share your joy —- hoping to instill joy in others. wow — a wave of joy coming over others, flowing around us.
Know Joy — know Jesus.
Know Jesus — know joy.