Emily | A Year of Living Adventurously
I believe it was Venerable Fulton Sheen who said, “saints are not sad.” His assertion is borne out by other saints, namely Saint Padre Pio, who said, “Pray, hope, and don’t worry.”
‘Tis the season to be thankful. But I’ve noticed a lot of grumpy Catholics lately. Or, more accurately, doomsday Catholics, who feel that we’re all going to perish anon if we don’t give up all pleasures and move to a monastery to weep for our sins.
Now, I’m not going to say we shouldn’t be sorry for our sins. We should be, and we should go to confession frequently. And as great as vacations are, our sole purpose in life can’t be to work to make more money so we can take our kids to Disney World every six months, or to give them every gadget under the sun for Christmas.
However, there’s a big, huge chasm between enjoying our lives, but remembering we are strangers in a strange land, and making this existence this only thing worth having (which I talked about in my last column).
Are times hard for Catholics? Well, yes. Sort of. Being a faithful Catholic is a hard thing nowadays, with our sound bite culture and people who have a knowledge base an inch deep and a mile wide, who think Catholic=Inquisition=female oppressors=…well, you know.
So, yes, it can be hard to be Catholic. But is it any harder than it has been in the past 2,000 years? I’d say probably not. At least, not yet.
I see so many Catholics who act like the world is ending because people are taking vacations, letting their children play sports, and are generally doing things they enjoy, as opposed to wearing sackcloth and ashes. This makes me pause.
We’re heading into the season of Advent, which is a season of joyful anticipation. We know that the crib leads to the cross, but Advent and Christmas are about the joy of our redemption, of angels singing on high and shepherds gazing in wonder at God made man in a tiny stable. We should always have joy, as St. Paul will remind us on Gaudete Sunday: “Rejoice in the Lord, always. I say it again: rejoice!”
Why is there so little rejoicing happening lately?
I don’t know why. I know that I am as susceptible to grumpy days as anyone else. But my general disposition is one of optimism, a la Nellie Forbush in South Pacific. I believe that God created a good world, a world full of wonders for us to enjoy. Saints, again, back me up. Pope John Paul II was an avid outdoorsman; St. Gianna Molla was a skiier; Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati loved outdoor pursuits like hiking. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI loves to play piano, and Pope Francis likes listening to opera. Being Catholic doesn’t mean constant penance and weeping (although if we forget that we’re imperfect, sinful folk, we’re in trouble).
We cannot lose our joy, and our joy in the things that God has created for us. That includes the whoosh of sleds down a snowy hill, collecting shells at the seashore, knitting by the fire, a good cup of coffee, and spending time with our friends.
There is a time and a place for penance. We can’t get so wrapped up in pleasures that we forget God and His commandments. Hockey is great, but maybe not on Sunday at the expense of attending Mass. Chocolate is fantastic, but I can’t eat as much of it as I want whenever I want it. Balance is key. When we forget God and indulge too much, the balance is tipped and must be corrected.
Don’t let the world steal your joy, especially as we head into a season which anticipates the greatest joy–our salvation made man. Don’t let the grumpy days overshadow God’s tremendous love for you.
**I tried my hand at making a free desktop wallpaper for you. Pray, Hope, Don’t Worry Desktop Wallpaper. Let me know if it works for you. It worked on my end.
1. Click the link.
2. Right click “Save image as”
3. Find where you saved it on your computer, open it and right click.
4. Choose “Set as desktop background.