Choose Happiness

Dear Friends in Christ,

During this pandemic when we have had months without being allowed to offer public Masses and then months more of restrictions (capacity limits, required face covers etc.), and general fear and anxiety, there has also been some amazing things occurring. Because Mass attendance on the weekend is only a fraction (<25%) of what is normal, we have increased the number of daily Masses and that attendance is higher than normal! Another amazing and remarkable occurrence is that the number of people coming to Adoration and making visits to the Blessed Sacrament has also increased. Even more amazing is the number of people coming to Confession each week. These are all wonderful signs. While they do not make up for not being able to have everyone back for Sunday Mass, they are good and encouraging signs of the Catholic faith being alive and well here at SJV even during these difficult times.

There has been other positive signs that have developed during this time. Now much of this is anecdotal, but there are enough of them from numerous sources to give them credence in my book. During this time I have heard that many families have been spending more time together in good ways. There has been more family meals and more “in home” recreation. This has been an opportunity for spouses and siblings to spend more time together. Another positive is that people are turning off the TV and computer. From the reports that I hear, the decision to “turn off” was initially made out of disgust – nothing but negativity and bad news – and then it became something appreciated as something beneficial. When the TV and computer (phone, etc.) was turned off and the constant stream of nastiness and distraction was blocked or reduced, people started feeling better. They became less worried, less fearful, less anxious, and less on edge about things. They became more relaxed and calmer. Another thing I am hearing is that people are reading their Bible and spiritual books more than before. While many are unable to attend Mass in person, they are reading and praying the Liturgy of the Word on Sundays. This has spurred them to read the Scriptures even during the week and even take up other spiritual reading. I have also heard from people that they are praying the Liturgy of the Hours. This brings to mind the beautiful passage of St. Paul: “All things work together for the good for those who love the Lord.” (Rom 8:28) Or, as it is sometimes stated, “God can write straight even with our crooked lines!”

What has so many worried and anxious and even mad is the unknown and the fact that we cannot control it. Viruses are invisible to the naked eye. We cannot tell if someone has allergies or COVID-19. We cannot tell if someone is positive and asymptomatic or perfectly healthy. We are mad at the government for not doing enough or for doing too much. We are mad at the schools for not starting classes or for starting classes. We are upset because we have to wear masks or because others don’t! None of us can make others bend to our will. So, we get mad. We worry. We lash out and act out. We moan, gripe and complain about others or we throw a pity party for ourselves. To what good? When has our fear, anger, worry, lashing out, complaining or self-pity, ever effected anything good in another? When has it really, truly, made us ever feel good? The reality is that the only person we can change is our self. We can change and God will help us change. Each of us can grow in holiness but we have to want to be holy. We have to trust Jesus over ourselves. We can choose to follow Jesus more closely in our words, actions and attitudes. We can each choose to be less worried and less angry. We can choose to be more forgiving, more patient and understanding. Every last one of us can choose to be kind. We can decide to be positive and affirming. We can choose happiness and the key to happiness is holiness!

How is the Lord calling you to greater holiness during this time? What are the daily opportunities that are in front of you? How can you take advantage of this time and help others grow closer to Jesus? In what ways is God calling you to have greater peace, calm and trust, in your life? I invite you to come to Eucharistic Adoration or to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. The Adoration Chapel is open 24/7 and the church and chapel are open every day until 8:00 p.m. Come to a weekday Mass. Come to confession, turn off the TV, phone and computer; pick up your Bible or a good spiritual book. Pray a family rosary. Spend some time with the kids, go for a walk, hold hands with your spouse, eat a home cooked meal with the family, visit a neighbor down the block, get to know the folks on your street; speak of positive and good things and remember to laugh! Pray for one another and thank God every day for His countless blessings. Pray that we may all use this time to become better and holier.

In pace Christi,
Fr. Troy