Sunday, March 11, 2018

True Joy

The Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday, reminds us of the fruit of the Holy Ghost--joy. Joy is a pure gift from God. We can practice charity or experience peace, but the idea of joy and happiness is something God fills us with because it comes from Himself. Joy and goodness go together. As God is all-good, He is the ultimate object of our desires, and we are truly happy when seeking Him.

There is a difference between "feeling happy" and true joy that is supernatural, and that supernatural joy comes from fulfilling God's will in our lives. When we are completely open to God acting in our lives, He takes care of everything for us. For He desires us to be happy more than we want to be happy. 

Joy is also lasting. It may seem like a contradiction in terms, but I think when you are sad it is still possible to experience joy. Because even when we are going through tough times, we can still hold onto the hope and happiness of union with God, which more often than not is achieved through suffering well. 

I've always liked this quote: "Serve the Lord with laughter" by St. Padre Pio. It is a much fuller life to take each experience great or small with a smile.

Sunday, March 4, 2018


Everyone has a favorite vacation spot, either a place to return to year after year to make memories or a place that of itself creates a sense of peace and relaxation. Now nothing is permanent here on earth, but I do think there are places that God has made that give us a foretaste of paradise.

That paradise for me is without a doubt the ocean. There is something so majestic about the waves and the immensity of it all. There's a whole world beneath those waters that I'll probably never see in person because I doubt I'll ever scuba dive. There's nothing to compare the sound of the rolling waves to or the soft sands or the ocean breeze or the setting sun. If it was possible to find a heaven on earth, the beach would be it for me.

I love the idea that there really can be a "happy place" you can go to. God has created so much beauty around us that taking little trips reminds us that we can find that at home too. But there's nothing like having a favorite vacation spot that makes you realize there's so much to enjoy in life.

Saturday, February 24, 2018


Beatitudo, or perfect happiness, is a concept I learned in a philosophy class once. For life has many ups and downs, hellos and goodbyes, and good and bad days, but there is something that lies beneath all that where we can find peace and joy. 

The Catholic Encyclopedia discusses: "Beatitudo, perfect happiness, complete well-being, is to be attained not in this life, but in the next. Primarily, it consists in the activity of man's highest cognitive faculty, the intellect, in the contemplation of God — the infinitely Beautiful. But this immediately results in the supreme delight of the will in the conscious possession of the Summum Bonum, God, the infinitely good."

While beatitudo is something fully possessed in Heaven, we have a foretaste of it on earth, and it is this very concept that transcends the sufferings of life. The possession of God carries us through and allows us to be truly happy no matter what storms shake us. 

I think too that this possession of God extends to other people. For we see God in those around us--those closest to us, and so our happiness comes not only from God but the people He puts in our life. We in turn can be a source of joy to those same people.

So in what does perfect happiness consist? And how can we find it on earth amidst suffering? Blessed Margaret d’Youville says: "All the wealth in the world cannot be compared with the happiness of living together happily united." The key is union--our souls in union with God and our hearts in union with friends. Because one can only truly be happy by giving oneself to another, or rather that true joy shines the brightest in sacrifice and love.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Patience of 40 Days

Lent teaches us a lot about patience. I think this is one of the hardest virtues to practice, perhaps because it is required of us so frequently. There's innumerable moments throughout the day that we must endure some suffering or wait for things. The Lenten season asks us to commit to a practice, sacrifice, additional prayer, or virtue for 40 days (give or take) that help us learn patience.

I was sent a document recently on Patience by Fr. Richard Clarke that consists of a 30 day meditation on the virtue. One quote Father writes: "The virtue of patience consists in the willing endurance for God's sake of all that is painful to nature, of whatever kind it may be." I like the words "whatever kind" to remind us that really anything that presents itself as disagreeable to us is an opportunity to be patient and offer something to God.

Just as with waiting 40 days through Lent and making sacrifices along the way, brings us so much joy and glory with the celebration of Easter, the rewards of patience are peace and triumph. For I think it is in waiting for things that make the attainment of them so wonderful. There's an inner joy that accompanies those moments when you choose to be patient amidst suffering by the grace of God.

I love this quote by Mother Angelica, "Patience is adjusting your time to God's time."  Let's take Our Lady of Sorrows as our model of patience this Lent!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Taking a Drive

Do you ever just like going for a drive? Even if you don't have anywhere in particular to go, sometimes it's nice to drive along the highway and take in all the surroundings. I guess all-day drives can be a drag, but there's something satisfying about reaching your destination after a long journey.

I like the fun and adventure of trips--the idea that you can hop in a car or a plane and be somewhere else in a matter of hours. Going for a drive and playing music in the car, rolling the windows down and feeling the fresh air, laughing with your friends on the way to a movie. There's something about sharing a drive that lets you have the best conversations, those feel good moments, and the experience of getting somewhere together.

A nice drive gives you time to think, time to imagine, time to take a breather and slow down. I like the experience of new places, of the old fashioned idea of printing out directions, of capturing the moments that got you there. People laugh at the number of pictures I like to take, but you just want to savor those moments that quickly turn into memories. 

So when life hits you fast, remember you can just take it slow, one moment at a time!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Valuing Our Heritage

Our nationality is part of who we are. It might not play a central part in our everyday life as far as customs may go, but there is something to be said for our heritage. Where we come from sometimes helps us know where we are going. Being American is a distinct nationality, but most Americans have different heritages. I enjoy American holidays and traditions, but it is also nice to have some elements of our other cultures as well.

For myself, I am Polish, Irish, and German. To be honest, I don't play up the nationalities all that much, but I think it's neat to know what you are. I would love to travel to those countries and experience what the culture would be like. The food, architecture, and people would all be so interesting. 

One tradition that I have kept is a Polish one. Every Christmas we get special wafers decorated with religious scenes. Each member of the family breaks off a piece of their individual wafer and wishes the other a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. It is a warm memory I have of all the Christmas Eve's growing up. (And I do have to say that Polish Chrusciki sugar pastries are absolutely delicious).

Heritage to me is a little piece of our past that makes the unique story of our life a little more fascinating!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Give to God

This week I know someone making her Solemn Profession of Vows. This ceremony, by which a religious sister commits herself until death to her rule of life, her promises of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience, and her Community, is considered by the Church to be the equivalent of a wedding day. The Sister is a bride of Christ and as such offers the gift of her life to God. Her days will be spent in prayer, sacrifice, and love for the salvation of souls. 

Our Faith is so rich, it's moments like these ceremonies that make you realize we are living for eternity. Our life on earth is short and we need to make the most of each moment to love God. Not all of us are called to give ourselves in the same way a religious does, but we should all have that generosity of heart that we give ourselves to God in our daily struggles in whatever state of life we find ourselves in.

St. Agnes says: "Christ has made my soul beautiful with the jewels of grace and virtue. I belong to Him Whom the angels serve." How fitting this quote will be to the Sister making her vows to Christ. Her offering will bring much grace to the Church, as each of us can in living lives of virtue.

May God bless Sister and all those who offer their lives to God and pray for us daily.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Twain's Triumph

Mark Twain's words about this work say it all: "I like Joan of Arc best of all my books; and it is the best; I know it perfectly well. And besides, it furnished me seven times the pleasure afforded me by any of the others; twelve years of preparation and two years of writing. The others needed no preparation and got none." I agree with his statement, "it is the best." I've read this book twice and never get tired of it. Perhaps I'm biased because Joan of Arc is one of my favorite saints, but Twain really brings her story to life. He portrayed the narration as Louis de Conte so remarkably that many at the time didn't know Twain was the author.

This post will be pages and pages if I really told you all the great things about this book, but you will have to read it for yourself. In short, the work is divided into three parts. The first "In Domremy" and the life with her family. The second "In Court and Camp" and her epic battles. The third "Trial and Martyrdom" which Twain puts as "among all the multitude of biographies that freight the shelves of the world's libraries, this is the only one whose validity is confirmed to us by oath."

The third section is perhaps the most moving. There is nothing compared to the dialogue of Joan of Arc at the end of her life, including perhaps the most famous line, "if I be not in a state of grace, I pray God place me in it; if I be in it, I pray God keep me so." Also, her answer to the question of why her standard had been at the king's coronation: "it had borne the burden, it had earned the honor."

I think what moves me most about Joan's life is her willingness to serve God in whatever way He wished and the remarkable courage and fidelity to the mission He gave her. It is a wonder to me that discovering the rich spiritual depth of a soul like Joan of Arc that Twain never became a Catholic. Still, he does great justice to the life of the Maid and shows what a hero she really was. (Note: the film of Joan of Arc with Ingrid Bergman is not bad and follows along fairly accurately with her story as well).

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Ride of Life

So, I'm not one for the really big roller coasters. The most advanced I've been on is a ride not more than 35mph......and I didn't realize it went backwards until it was too late. But do you ever feel like life is just like the big coasters? They go fast, turn you around, make you feel like you're flying, and if you let go a little give you the time of your life. 

Life is like that to me. It has it's ups and downs, it's dash of the unexpected and unpredictable, but at the same time the happiest moments, the thrill of adventure, and sharing all that experience with others. So much so that you don't want the ride to end and have to re-ride it over and over to relive those great moments.

But like my experience on the backwards coaster--you can't get off the ride until it's over. Time never stops. Moments pass so quickly and we want to hang onto them. Are we letting life pass us by and not enjoying the ride? I love this quote: "While you are busy making a living, don't forget to make a life."

The best part of coasters to me, be they small or large, is not riding them at all, but the excitement built up beforehand. I love the anticipation of "am I actually going to get on this?" And then deciding to do it. Life is like that--you don't know what the future will bring, but you take the leap and jump in, excitement and all. Before you realize it, you're having the ultimate adventure.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

It Makes a Difference

I recently discovered this little story and now it's one of my favorites: "One evening a squall on an ocean left the beach scattered with starfish. A child noticed this walking along and tried to return the starfish into the waves. A passerby remarked to the child of the impossibility of making a difference since there were countless starfish. The child looked thoughtfully at the starfish in his hand before returning it to the ocean and answered, "Well it makes a difference to this one."

Do you ever feel like what you try to do in your life just doesn't seem to matter? That nothing is bearing fruit? That efforts fall short? But even if you don't see it, efforts do bear fruit and everything you do matters. I heard a great sermon at Mass yesterday for the feast of the Holy Family, and the priest spoke a lot about merit--how when we make the choice to fulfill our daily duties well no matter how monotonous, we are storing up merit in Heaven. For the Holy Family lived a very simple life: Our Lady cooked, cleaned, sewed....St. Joseph worked, constructed, built...and Our Lord "was subject to them." He lived a hidden life, but such a rich life! Do you ever feel like those who appreciate a life detached from the world discover something so much deeper?

The story of the child and the starfish is how I feel about my writing and my shop. If I reach even just one person, touch one heart, help one soul, it is all worth it. What we do makes a difference. How do we know that a providential smile, glance, or word of encouragement, was not what one person needed to continue on in their struggles? You could be the person whose simple act of charity was the one that made someone turn to God or persevere to the end. Let us not think that because there is so much that can be done, that nothing can be done, but rather not miss any opportunities....since "it makes a difference to this one."