When it’s Hard to Rejoice

A few days ago, we celebrated Gaudete Sunday.  The name comes from the first word of the introit, or opening antiphon, on the Third Sunday of Advent.  “Gaudete in Domino semper.”  (Rejoice in the Lord always.)  Instead of text from a psalm, our responsorial reading is from the Gospel according to St. Luke.  It is Mary’s Magnificat… “My soul proclaims the greatness of my God; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

Now, in all truthfulness, my week did start out with much rejoicing.  I attended the vigil Mass on Saturday night at a nearby parish where the pastor was celebrating the 25th anniversary of his ordination. The music was lovely, and the priest was clearly moved and humbled by the occasion.  Afterwards, over 200 people, brothers and sisters in Christ, continued to celebrate with a big meal, delicious wine, and live music.  I slept in a bit in the morning, but enjoyed breakfast at the local Knights of Columbus and the inaugural meeting of our new Lay Dominican chapter. (More on that in a later post.)  After our OP meeting, my husband and I went to Gabriel’s grave site to leave some Christmas greenery.  We then headed home and decorated our tree.  Rejoice!

I spent much of Monday making Christmas cards and watching Netflix.  I should have been writing here, but with just two hands, I have yet to figure out how to stamp and blog at the same time.  Imagine that!

But yesterday quite suddenly, my heart struggled to rejoice.  Tragic news hit our family:  one of our nephews was in a major car accident.  He was in surgery for seven hours last night.  He is still in ICU, and has a very long road to recovery.  I went to Adoration tonight, and also to Confession.  I was overcome with shame for the times I grumble about arthritic pain or the growing weakness in my legs.  Yes, these physical realities have always been a part of my life, even the progressive nature of my condition, but it is so different when an injury is unexpected.  My struggles seem so minute now.

Rejoice…always?  This is what we are told to do in the sacred Scriptures.  I do not believe God wants us to ignore our sorrow or anguish.  God weeps with us.  He understands the burdens on our hearts and minds.  He is not clueless, nor cold and distant.

So why does His Word say “rejoice always…and again I say rejoice”?  Because God wants us to know that He will not ignore us in our time of trial.  He will embrace us…if we allow Him to.  He will lift us up in some way.  Perhaps not in the way we hope, but certainly in the way we need.

Rejoice…God will not abandon you.

Rejoice…God will strengthen you.

Rejoice…God knows absolutely everything you need, and He will supply everything you need.

Rejoice…God still has a remarkable plan for your life, even if you find yourself on a detour.

Rejoice…God will send you people to help you, to encourage you, maybe even to nag you.

Rejoice…God. Loves. YOU!

Yes…rejoice in the Lord always.  Gaudete in Domino semper!

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