theROCK

Oh, Joy

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Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. The fruits of the Holy Spirit are the result of God’s love and the new life we receive from being united with Jesus. The fruits provide a glimpse at eternal glory. Joy is, quite literally, a slice of heaven. When looking up “joy” in the catechism, it sends you to a passage about happiness that relates to hope, one of the theological virtues (CCC#1818). The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it takes up the hopes that inspire men’s activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of heaven; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude. Buoyed up by hope, he is preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from charity. Joy comes from love, love as it exists in true human charity. What brings you joy? True joy not just happiness. I had to stop and think about this. For me, I would be remiss if I didn’t state that the innocence and industry of children brings me true joy. True joy is in the giggles and silliness. True joy for me is connecting with another person so much so that I can see the face of God. True joy is recognizing God in the moments of my day especially on the hard days. True joy is seeing a goal completed knowing every skill set I’ve been given has been used to arrive there. True joy is surrender to the will of the Father. 

Where is your joy?

Love Your Neighbor As Yourserlf

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“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Gosh, like so many things Jesus says, at first glance, it sounds so easy, so straightforward. However, for people who struggle to love themselves, to truly see worth in themselves in the way God does, this verse can be particularly baffling. I have always found it easier to pour out myself for others who I care about, to compliment them, to see their value, their worth, than to see my own. I often find my worth in my ability to be useful to others. In doing this, I fail to see the fullness of my worth through God’s eyes, and in so doing fail to see the full complexity of my neighbor.  Loving our neighbor means more than what we refrain from doing to them, in living the commandments, but what we actively do for them in positive service projects. Loving our neighbor means meeting them where they are, by loving their complexity, their positive and negative traits, not for what they can and cannot do for us or even for themselves, but just for who they are. I think this is hard to do for many of us, because we don’t love ourselves in this complexity. We see ourselves as our career, our accomplishments, or our ability to raise a family. God is calling us to love our neighbor as we love our self, but this presumes loving our self. So I challenge you to get to know and love yourself, your faults and failings especially, as this will better prepare you to love your neighbor in a way that gives God joy, but also remember to give yourself grace along the way, it’s not as easy as it sounds. 

in Joy, Trust

Starting from Zero Again and Again

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This year, due to the coronavirus, we had to wait until the gradual reopening process allowed us to celebrate our Baccalaureate Mass for our eighth grade class. Even with the Mass, attendance was limited to parents only. As I thought about the limitations we are working under, and my belief they are here to stay for an extended period of time, I was contemplating what the average Catholic psyche is right now. 

This tragedy of the pandemic, has unfolded like a slow moving accident. If an asteroid would have hit our planet, we would have all responded quickly and in unity. But with the nebulous spread; broad, yet unsubstantiated restrictions, and unproven reopening, I am not sure what everyone is feeling. In a recent poll taken, well over half of Catholics do not yet feel comfortable attending public Masses, even with the accommodations. The haunting question is when will they? I borrowed the title of this reflection from an article I read a while back. It was from a young missionary, who described her experience of learning Spanish in Bolivia, re-learning the dialect in Peru, and having to learn administrative skills in her new job. She remarked on how she had to adjust to starting over again and again.

Maybe that captures our feelings best. In this atmosphere, more than ever, we ask ourselves, is God in control? If we answer ‘yes,’ we approach each day with confidence and joy. If we answer with doubt, we approach each new day with fear and trepidation. This young missionary put her complete trust in God in a new country, with a foreign language, and an insufficient skill set. She now has friends, speaks the language, and leads with confidence. Our situation is not even near as complex, can you put all your trust in God, starting today? 

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