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the practice of joy

Sometimes we have to be reminded to be joyful.

You know…”when the dog bites, when the bee stings, when we’re feeling saaad….”

You may think that joy should just happen-- a natural occurance, a bubbling up of emotion due to happy thoughts or circumstances. For some of us that is true. Joy just seems to come easier for some than for others. But I would say, for most, the moments of sheer bliss and giggles are out-weighed by the mundane: the ordinary pain and suffering of computer issues, laundry, and life's tedious details-- you know, the stuff of everyday where “joyful” does not describe our disposition. And this cloud of gray can cast a dark shadow over our family life, leaving us feeling frustrated and at odds with God, each other and the world.

“What exactly is joy?” you may ask.

According to Websters Dictionary, Joy is: 1. “A feeling of great happiness.” 2. “A source or cause of great happiness.”

As we all know, feelings come and they go, but if we believe that God is the source and author of joy, we have found our Artesian Well of lasting Happiness! In both the Old and New Testament we can see again and again that God created the world in order to share His joy, all that is Himself, with us. We serve a joyful God.

Thanks be to Him, we can access this source of joy anytime through prayer and praise and, according to Fr. Juan Pablo Duran, we can even fan into flame joy within our family by practicing these four things:

1. Reconciliation: Say, “I AM SORRY” to God and to others when we have not been the best version of ourselves. This will open the flood gates of grace and restore right relationships and joy in our home.

2. Service: Are you sad? Do something for someone else. St. Mother Theresa said service is the sure cure for depression. Go as a family on a mission trip, feed the homeless, rake a neighbor’s yard, bake cookies for a sick friend. Serve God and look to help others. Get OUTSIDE OF YOURSELF.

3. Bring your suffering to God as a family. Don’t go it alone. If you are having tough times, don’t close yourself in and have a pity party. Take whatever you may be going through to GOD-- TOGETHER. Pray the rosary, invite friends over for prayer, engage others to help. Don’t shut down. There is strength and JOY in community.

4. Enjoy each other’s company. Don’t be in such a rush that you forget to DAILY ENJOY EACH OTHER. Sit, have a cup of coffee together, a glass of wine, or an ice cream cone and just TALK. JOY COMES in the moments of true connection. Life passes quickly, be present and ENJOY.

Pastor Rick Warren states that in every life there will be times of great suffering and great joy, like train tracks running side by side. We have to choose which rail to ride.

Choose to choose the practice of joy and then you... “won’t feeeel soooo baaaad!”

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” John 15:11

Dear Lord,

I want to be joyful! I want to be happy! I want my family to be joyful and loving and unified. Please help me to first make sure things are right between You and me. Then help me to see if I need to apologize to anyone I may have hurt among my friends or family. Lord, if I have, please give me the grace and humility to ask for forgiveness. I want to be You and others focused. Help me to get outside of myself, because by doing this, I will be serving and connecting with You, and that can’t help but bring me joy. Thank You that You are a joyful and loving God and always choose to have relationship with me. I choose to choose You. By Your grace, I choose to practice joy.

I ask this in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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