Choosing one’s attitude

How can anyone find joy in poverty, hunger, sadness, or persecution? When we consider all of the elements that bring comfort and happiness to our lives, being poor, hungry, sad, or denigrated are never part of the equation. And yet Jesus tells us that the poor, the hungry, those who weep, those who are hated, excluded, and insulted are blessed and will receive great joy.

To our modern sensibilities, this simply does not compute. Like the rich young man who asks Jesus what he must do to gain salvation, we have great difficulty in accepting his command to sell all our possessions and give the money to the poor. Salvation requires us to pay a very heavy price; a price that far too many are unwilling to pay.

I believe that the problem isn’t so much with the message as with our perspective. An uncle of mine once told me that he “would rather be looking down at the grass than looking up at the roots.” When it comes to God, how often do we find ourselves looking up at the roots; forgetting to look down at the grass? Are we living large but spiritually deprived?

St. Thomas Aquinas once said “No person can live without joy. That is why someone deprived of spiritual joy goes after carnal pleasures.” A fundamental law of nature states that when a vacuum exists something will fill it. If we don’t feed our soul, fill our spirit with God’s love, find joy in His loving embrace, we inevitably find other things, earthly things, to fill the void.

Viktor Frankl, a concentration camp survivor wrote that “We who lived in concentration camps can remember those who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They offer proof that everything can be taken from a person but one thing—the last freedom—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”

If we want to be filled with the joy of salvation then we must rid ourselves of anything that keeps God from our lives. Creating space for God, becoming poor in spirit, opens up our hearts to His joy. It fills us with His love. Hunger for God’s love will give us strength and sustain us. Sorrow for our sins removes the weight of guilt from our souls and lightens our spirit.

God gives each of us the freedom to choose what is the most important. We can either use our last freedom as a stepping stone to God or as a stumbling block, it is all a matter of perspective.

Deacon Chuck

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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