When I was going through my cancer scare, a friend of mine asked me to pray for her friend who had just been told that his leukemia was terminal. And I didn’t know what to pray. The thought of my own dying was, I think, still to close to the matter. If I were, indeed, terminal, I thought, for what would I pray? For what would I want others to pray?
After heading out of church one Sunday with a sudden, bright knowledge that I was healed, I began to understand what was important about last rites and what was needed in all of our prayers for the dying. It isn’t enough to tidy things up before one dies and then leave everything to God’s mercy. The part about leaving everything in God’s merciful hands is certainly sufficient, but the beautiful healing in that is not only the rightness of it and the sense of peace that it can bring – but also the joy.
What will it be like to be dead? Does this question seem dark and morbid to you, raising up fear? It does a little to me, but, perhaps that is instinctive, since it goes against nature to want to experience being dead. However, as people of faith, it is not a scary question to ask. For, we do not believe that death is the end of our lives. Our bodies will no longer be able to hold onto life, will die and decay back into the earth – but the life that is let go continues. Our souls, which had animated our bodies, are of spirit and therefore they are immortal and cannot die. So… what happens after our lungs stop breathing, our hearts stop beating, and our brains stop firing signals? What will life be like then? Continue reading
I have always been drawn to beauty, as bees are called to nectar and deserts thirst for rain. When I was an atheist, I found delight in the beauty of the natural world – which I would never have called God’s Creation, but only Earth or universe. As a believing Christian, I now experience the beauty of the created world in a more personal and exquisitely intimate way, with true joy, as profound gift and Mystery.
Our Creator does not create with rigid rationing, but, rather, with generosity and full exuberance: 1000 seeds to bear one fruit tree, 1 million spermatozoa to bear one human being, 1 billion rocky planets to bear one earth…
Everybody wants something. Whether desiring wealth, pleasure, power, health, approval, comfort, freedom, or happy love, very few of us would rest content saying that there is nothing that we want. Because to want is to lack. We are all found wanting, because we are all lacking.
The only people that I have heard who sound to be truly content, wanting nothing, are Continue reading
A few words about joy. Well, okay, more than a few…
I used to think that Catholicism was very dour, celebrating solemnities (solemn celebrations?) bemoaning sin and life in this world. This was a false picture of the Catholic Church, however. Sadly, I’m not the only one who has had this misconception of Catholicism – probably millions do right now. The error, I think, comes partly from human attempts to depict the Mysterious Majesty of God and the profound honor, respect, awe, and even submission, due to God. When contemplating the Immaculate Conception of Mary, for example, we don’t do so with silly giddiness or casual interest. We must do so with solemn reverence and humble, awestruck gratitude – so, also with joy.
One problem, it seems to me, is that it’s hard to find an ancient image of Mary smiling. (If you know of one, please share!) Smiles probably didn’t mean the same thing then as they do now. But, let us remember that the Bible does speak clearly of joy. Mary herself cries out to Elizabeth, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” Mary rejoices. And so should we.
I do like this modern (1873) Greek icon of the Most Holy Mother of God…
Today we observe the “Solemnity” of the Immaculate Conception (celebrating the Mystery of Mary being conceived in her mother’s womb without the stain of Original Sin, so that she may truly be The New Eve). And Gaudete Sunday (the Third Sunday of Advent) is being celebrated this weekend. So, truly, it’s a fitting time to reflect upon the importance of joy in our lives of faith. With the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love, must also come the gift of joy – for how can we not be joyful when we believe that we are made to know, to love, and to serve God in this life and to be happy with God forever? With this faith and hope we are free to love – and in the true freedom of loving others and knowing that we are intimately and infinitely love there is true and lasting joy. Continue reading
If you are not a grateful person, then you will never be great.
If you do not appreciate the people in your life, then you cannot receive their amazing value – only their cost.
If you do not say “Thank you” when you didn’t get what you wanted, but, rather, what you needed, then you won’t know true joy if you do get what you want.
Giving thanks is easy when you are surrounded by a delicious feast and a happy family. But, how easy is it to be thankful if you are sadly without home, without family, or without feasting? The awesome, powerful thanksgiving that transcends the 4th Thursday of November is experienced by those who do not lack gratitude even when life is hard. For these are the people who recognize life itself as an eternal gift.
The life of your soul is not a gift that was thoughtlessly or cheaply purchased.
It is given by the Giver with pure love…
Live your Thank You by loving – and let your unconditional loving be your joy. May God help me as I strive to fully live with gratitude…
For more of my posts on Thanksgiving and giving thanks, please click and read
One Year of Blogging – and Still Thankful
Giving Thanks (While Gazing upon the Crucifix)
Giving Thanks – Eucharist
© 2016 Christina Chase
This is the famous 1918 photograph by Eric Enstrom called “Grace”.
It has hung in the dining room of my parents’ house since before I was born. Interestingly, although my mother was raised by a devout family in a very religious village, her family never said “grace” – a prayer said before eating. It’s hard to say whether or not my father’s family did… probably they didn’t, except, I would guess, on holidays and, then, probably only at his aunt or older sister’s promptings. This helps to explain why my parents never said a prayer at mealtime when they were married. Not until my older sister changed things. Continue reading
It’s a human inclination to want to be famous, wealthy, or influential in some grand way. I want to be a successful author, with big dreams of making bestseller lists and overcoming my severe disability to support myself and my family. It may happen, God only knows. But, it won’t start there. The purpose for which God created me begins here and now, in this moment, as tiny and seemingly insignificant as this moment may be.
Our lives are made up of small moments. What we do in those small moments and how we do them determines how we live – how we live here and now, and how we live forever. Joy is in the loving of each moment of each day – not in amassing.
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux said it best. Because she lived it. She had big dreams Continue reading