Tag Archives: joy

The Joyful Mysteries

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

I started yesterday with some good prayer, and the night before, I studied some uplifting passages in the Scriptures. However, it was a typical Monday for me once I got to work: I was unable to fully wake up, and my students gave me an especially hard time because I handed back the final drafts of their essays which never seems to go well.

I tell you, college students will argue ’til the cows come home in order to get me or my colleagues to reconsider their grades (I usually don’t).

In typical fashion, my focus was no longer on God but on my workday and on everything that needed to be done. By the time I got to my car in the evening, I was feeling pretty guilty about pushing Jesus aside the whole day. It really pained my heart. I needed to get my focus back and put the day’s events (and failures) behind me.

I have iRosary which is an app for my iPhone. I used to use it in order to learn the structure of the rosary and the prayers. Now, however, I seem to use it only to find out what the mysteries are for a certain day.

So I was instantly comforted to know that yesterday was the day for the Joyful Mysteries. God always knows what I need!

I have written some thoughts that I had during my praying of the rosary yesterday. I hope you are able to find some encouragement from them.

1. The Annunciation – Fruit of the Spirit: Humility

The angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Lord may not be sending angels to let you know that change is coming, but He works in ways which we may not realize.

Because of His grace, God enabled me to reach out to Him in distress; he answered me by moving within my heart and assuring me that He blesses a humble spirit. God doesn’t want many eloquent words; He works best with a humble and contrite spirit.

You don’t have to be a canonized saint or the Mother of God for Him to speak to you. Just start with prayer and ask Him to help you and show you the way to His Son.

2. The Visitation – Fruit of the Spirit: Love of Neighbor

Gabriel visited Mary, and then Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth who was pregnant with John, the one who would baptize Jesus at the beginning of His ministry.

It’s been said that Mary was the first missionary, bringing Jesus to her cousin. The Scriptures say that the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaped with joy when Mary greeted her.

The fruit of the Spirit, love of neighbor, spoke to me the most regarding this mystery. I had just finished a stressful day with students and colleagues, and praying for and loving them were the furthest from my mind; another example of how God urges us and helps us!

3. The Birth of Jesus – Fruit of the Spirit: Poverty

Everyone knows about the nativity; we see it every December. As a result, when I pray this mystery, I try to meditate on something that isn’t ingrained in me like images of warm-and-fuzzy manger scenes on Christmas cards.

I once heard an Evangelical preacher on the radio say that he wanted to design a Christmas card image that reflected his own perspective on the nativity: a disturbing image of Mary on the ground drenched in blood, screaming in agony while giving birth.

The purpose of the preacher’s controversial idea, which may or may not have come to fruition, was to “tell it like it was” and shake people up. Although I’d rather not go to that extreme, I focused on poverty while meditating on this mystery and how God loved me so much that He allowed His Son to be born into a poor family. That little baby in a Bethlehem stable would definitely shake people up one day.

4. The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple – Fruit of the Spirit: Obedience

This particular mystery was a breath of fresh air for me yesterday. Our Heavenly Father wants our obedience because that is the only way He can help us. When we surrender to God and His will, we are like baby Jesus in the arms of Simeon, receiving a blessing in the Lord’s very own temple. It is quite an amazing image that  brought tears to my eyes.

You may feel that you are worthless and that nobody loves you. Maybe you’ve been told this so many times that you have started to believe it. Take another look at the image above and see how proud Mary, Joseph, and Simeon the priest are. God and all of the angels and saints in heaven are just as proud of you.

Do some studying and find out about God’s image of you. He created you, so believe Him instead of mean-spirited people in your life.

5. The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple – Fruit of the Spirit: Joy in Finding Jesus

Joseph and Mary had been looking for their Son who they thought was in their group as they made their way back home. After three days of searching, His parents were filled with joy when they found Him.

As a parent, I can imagine their joy and relief. Like any good mother, though, the first thing that Mary did was to admonish her Son for not keeping up with them.

Despite what the fruit of the Spirit says, I saw this in the opposite way: I was lingering behind, doing my own thing, and my spiritual family, The Blessed Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, and all the saints in heaven, celebrated and embraced me when I rejoined them.

Final Thoughts

God is nothing like my earthly father: staring at me with a critical eye, waiting for me to mess up so he can hit and berate me. Glory be to Christ that I have a loving Father who longs for me to wallow out of my sin and come back each time I mess up.

As I smiled and praised God for turning my sadness to joy yesterday, I thought of all the individuals in the world who have been hurt by religion or who don’t know the joy and love of the faith. I pray that others can find that bright pearl of Christ in their own lives.

~t


About Sex and Being Close to God (Not Necessarily in That Order)

life-is-good-BIG

Since I began receiving help from my doctor and therapists, things have been going better for me. What has really helped me, though, is my faith.  As they say, there are no atheists in foxholes.

Last weekend my family and I were on our way to the park to play 18 holes of disc golf (yep, even our two young children can hang with us for all 18 holes!). Out of the blue, my wife said that, if she could go back in time and do things differently, she would like to be a pediatrician. She is realizing that she loves being around children and helping them. Part of this is due to the fact that our youngest son will start kindergarten in the fall, and, for the first time, she will be home all alone during weekdays which is one reason she wants to start working outside the home.

My wife then asked me if there was anything that I wished I could do over. “Nope. Nothing. I’m happy with the way my life is.”

Huh?!  Did I really just say that?

My wife was just as shocked. “Really?” I expected her to say something smart like, “Well, I wish you could have chosen a better major in college so we’d have more money now,” or something to that effect.  Instead: “Wow. You’re lucky!”

Yes. I am lucky. For the first time in my life, I am totally happy in my relationship with God. I have made many sacrifices and have gone through many trials in order to be so close to Him. It was hard. Man, was it hard. But after all these years, I finally understand what St. Paul is saying: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Sure, it would be nice to have a job that paid a six-figure salary like so many of my friends who are my age or even younger. It would be great to be able to take my kids to the Harry Potter theme park in Florida even though they are totally thrilled just to watch the DVDs at home. It would be nice to pay my mother back for the thousands of dollars she spent on my hospital bills over the past 12 months.

But what I have now is peace and joy. Peace because I know God will continue to provide for us. Joy because I have never been happier doing God’s will. I gave up everything that was hindering me: extreme metal music, going out drinking every weekend, pornography, ogling every female I came into contact with, and so on.

Believe me, sin is fun (as if you didn’t know). But it leaves an emptiness inside after the high quickly wears off. But by giving up all that stuff to God, He is able to use me to my fullest potential, filling my whole heart and soul with His spirit. It is the most wonderful feeling.

Before, I would achieve various states of this, but it was always a self-fulfilling prophecy: I was afraid that my joy and trust in God would evaporate after a few days’ time, and, sure enough, it always did.

This wasn’t the first time that my wife had asked me about what I would do over in my life. We are both intelligent and earned degrees in fields that we loved back in the day. However, as people get older, they change. Sure, it would have been really cool to learn how to play drums when I was younger so that I could be an expert now. But those are just thoughts; not even bucket list items. As I mentioned in another post, I’m not really into bucket lists. I’m not sure why. I guess there is so much stuff that I’ve already done, and I am completely happy with my two little sons, even though our marriage has morphed into something that neither one of us expected. This was my wife’s decision, but after MUCH prayer and advice, I decided to offer it up to God, and now we are both okay (?) with it.

Credit: Fotolia

Anyway, I believe that in order for me to avoid mortal sin (contraception, coitus interruptus), and since my wife is a non-believer, a Josephite marriage (see above link) is actually a good idea for us. Would I recommend it to Catholic or non-Catholic couples? Absolutely not. There are so many factors involved; taking it on a case-by-case basis would be the best idea. Plus, talk to someone who is licensed.

Do I hope that we become intimate with each other again one day? Absolutely. But it’s not like I’m holding out or anything. I never thought it would be possible for me, but it really is not a problem. Now that is proof that there is a God; there would be no way that I could remain totally abstinent, being the gross sinner that I am.

So, teens and young single people: abstinence is indeed possible. If a married guy living in the same house as his wife can do it, then so can you!

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

~topaz

What are your thoughts on married couples who choose abstinence? Is it too strange? What if one party is not open to marriage counseling? Should a Josephite marriage be established to avoid divorce? Please let me know your thoughts. I’m just a blogger and could benefit from your feedback.