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by Matthew Kelly
The Joy of the Gospel
by Father Bob Sherry
by Ruch E Chris
I looked around at lunch today, and there were four little faces looking at me. We welcomed Ralph Bernard Kelly into the world on August 7. Walter, Isabel, and Harry are fascinated with all things Ralph, and that is fun to watch in itself. But looking at the four of them at lunchtime, I thought to myself, “Wow, time flies.” It was one of those blinding examples of the obvious that still has the ability to stop us in our tracks and make us think.
It’s already September, and Christmas will be here before you know it. What is God encouraging you to accomplish before the end of this year? What project is God looking to collaborate with you on? Whatever it is, get started today. Throw yourself into it.
Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved.
— From “The Joy of the Gospel” by Pope Francis
There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter. I realize of course that joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty. Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved. I understand the grief of people who have to endure great suffering, yet slowly but surely we all have to let the joy of faith slowly revive as a quiet yet firm trust, even amid great distress: "My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is... But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness... It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord" (Lam 3:17, 21-23, 26).
Sometimes we are tempted to find excuses and complain, acting as if we could only be happy if a thousand conditions were met. To some extent this is because our "technological society has succeeded in multiplying occasions of pleasure, yet has found it very difficult to engender joy." I can say that the most beautiful and natural expressions of joy which I have seen in my life were in poor people who had little to hold on to. I also think of the real joy shown by others who, even amid pressing professional obligations, were able to preserve, in detachment and simplicity, a heart full of faith. In their own way, all these instances of joy flow from the infinite love of God, who has revealed himself to us in Jesus Christ. I never tire of repeating those words of Benedict XVI which take us to the very heart of the Gospel: "Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction."
Thanks solely to this encounter—or renewed encounter—with God's love, which blossoms into an enriching friendship, we are liberated from our own narrowness and self-absorption. We become fully human when we become more than human, when we let God bring us beyond ourselves in order to attain the fullest truth of our being. Here we find the source and inspiration of all our efforts at evangelization. For if we have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?
During a papal coronation, a bundle of rope is burned and, as the flame dies, the words, “Padre Sancte, sic transit gloria mundi” are spoken. (Translated this means “Holy Father, thus passes the glories of the world.”) No matter in what station we live or what riches we possess, we all need to hear this comment on the vanity, the fleeting nature of human glory.
Each successor of Peter makes his own mark with his own charisma. Pope Francis is sometimes called “The Pope of Surprises.” In anticipation of his first visit to the United States, may I share my four expectations?
1. As a pope of firsts—the first pope with the name Francis, the first Jesuit-elected pope, and the first pope from America—I expect that Pope Francis will put the poor first. His priority is Lady Poverty. He constantly expresses his care of the poor and the destitute, the people on the peripheries. From the poor communities of Argentina to the poor boatpeople escaping Africa, Pope Francis puts the poor first. What do you expect he will say to our U.S. Congress?
2. With the personal motto of “Miserando Atque Eligendo” (“lowly but chosen”), he places God’s will far before his own. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Pope Francis learned as a Jesuit taught him to ask, “What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What must I do for Christ?” I expect Pope Francis will do what Christ would do if Christ were coming to the U.S. What do you expect that would be?
3. On most weekends I travel as a preacher for Cross Catholic Outreach, flying (usually) to various cities to beg for funds for the poor living in the poorest countries of the world. As it happens, I am flying into and out of Philadelphia the same weekend and the same hours as Pope Francis is scheduled to set wheels-up and wheels-down. So my third expectation is to meet Pope Francis at the Philadelphia Airport! What are my chances?
4. When you read Matthew Kelly’s most recent book, Rediscover Jesus, please read closely Chapter 13, “Who Is The Greatest?” with my first three expectations in mind. My fourth expectation is that you will see how my first three expectations all come together in light of that amazing chapter.
We can make these times—our times—times of discouragement or times of inspiration. We can be quitters and losers. Or, we can Be Bold and we can Be Catholic. What are your expectations? As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Sic transit gloria mundi.
Both Rich and I are cradle Catholics. We grew up going to church every Sunday and participating in CCD. We married in our late 20s, and by that time we only went to church once in a while. We weren’t satisfied, so we started checking out other churches and began to wonder if we should switch to another church.
One year, our parish was giving out Matthew Kelly’s book Rediscover Catholicism. I read the book, and it had many interesting points and explanations I had never thought through. I often shared these insights with my husband. About when I finished reading the book, our parish was organizing study groups to talk about Rediscover Catholicism. I thought we could see what else we could get out of the book.
The first night we talked about ourselves and our faith, where we came from and where we were on our faith journey. Week by week, things started opening up with us. Each week my husband would read the chapter, and we’d talk about it at dinner. He’d say, “Wow! I’ve not liked the Catholic Church for so many reasons, and this book really explains things. All my questions are truly being answered.” After reading the book and going through the study group, we realized how we’d wrongly put our Catholic faith on the backburner.
We now take Bible studies together; we pray together. We are happier; we are one. We have found that life is so much easier with God at our side and when we don’t blame others for our lack of faith.
It all started by reading Matthew Kelly’s Rediscover Catholicism and participating in the book study group at our church. The book helped us understand where we came from as Catholics and where we want to be with God. The book gave us answers to so many questions we had about being Catholic. We truly have rediscovered our Catholic faith and thank Matthew Kelly for writing this book.
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