Monday, June 15, 2015

In Pursuit of Hope and Joy

Typically, I write a post around the feast of Pentecost, proclaiming how it is my favorite feast of the year and that the Holy Spirit is moving and doing something big in my life. Notice how this was not the case this year.

Where are you this year, Big Guy???

Pentecost has come and gone, and so has the joy of the Easter season. The joy of summer has arrived, but Pentecost did not bring the movement that I had hoped for this year. I had prayed for it, as I do every year, with the novena from the feast of the Ascension to Pentecost, but the Holy Spirit didn't want to come my way, at least not in the way that I had hoped for.

Hope and Joy have been things that I have blogged about for years now. I know that these things are not unique to pray for, and everything in our lives seems to be cyclical. About 5 years ago, I was desperately searching for a change at work and finally in the summer of that year, the job at the school I now teach at fell in my lap. 7 years ago, I wanted out of the decision I had made for my vocation, and then about a month or so after, I was led back to DC.

Trust is another thing that we work on from time to time and I was working on last year by reading "The Way of Trust and Love" by Jacques Phillipe. Not to say that I feel like I have "mastered" trust. We are always challenged to trust. But I do feel like I have come a long way in my confidence in God and His work in my life. I know that the prayers I made in my novena to the Holy Spirit were heard, maybe just not in the way that I would have liked. I know that the Lord is looking out for me. I can't lose my joy in Him, however. And I can't lose hope.

It's hard when it seems like everyone around you has had their prayers answered: Friends who prayed for babies now pregnant. Friends who prayed for homes or moves now moving on. And you are staying put when you also prayed for the Holy Spirit to move you as well.

But we can't lose our joy. We have to remain joyful for those around us because that joyful spirit will also aid in us not feeling sorry for ourselves. Back when I was on NET, we used in a talk this acronym for JOY: "Joy comes when you put Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself third." All year, since Advent, I have been reflecting on and praying for Joy. But joy really comes when we draw near to the Lord. The closer we are to Him, the more joyful we are going to be. The homily I heard by a visiting Franciscan priest this Sunday also reminded me of this. Sometimes we lose the joy even at Mass. Franciscans are known for their joyfulness. I was grateful for this reminder and this Franciscan joy this weekend.

St. Francis does look pretty celebratory here, while that other guy can't be bothered...

And then there is Hope, which my spiritual director reminded me this past visit, stems from Praise. I had been told before that when we are feeling negative, we should try and practice gratitude. And similarly, when we are in need of hope, we should praise God simply for who He is. It is hard not to be joyful and hopeful when are praising the Lord for all of the Good He has done and the Good that He is.

There is a Jewish prayer that is said at Seder meals that I became aware of a few years ago called the Dayenu prayer. Essentially, it is a list of things that the Lord did for the Jews and the Jews pray that "if God had only done _______ (insert one of the things the Lord has done here, like 'Lead them out of Egypt'), It would have been enough."

I challenge my students to create their own Dayenu prayer, and as I pray for hope in praise and gratitude, I have been making my own. "If God would have only given me the health of my family, that would have been enough." "If God would've only provided for me throughout my life, that would've been enough."

Try your own Dayenu prayer when you are seeking prayers of gratitude, praise, and joy. And even though Pentecost has come and gone, that doesn't mean that Holy Spirit has left. He is still our advocate. We just need to surrender and let him do his advocating.

I am also grateful for SUMMER and some upcoming travel in a week or so to ITALY where I will get to see some of the best stuff from my guys St. Paul and St. Francis!!! Hoping and trusting that the Holy Spirit will be bestowing some graces on us while we are there.


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