Advent is a time of joyful anticipation in which we await the celebration of the coming of our Lord and Savior. I would love nothing more than to take this time to focus my thoughts and time on preparing my heart for Jesus. Unfortunately the beginning of the season of advent seemed to coincide quite nicely with my season of finals. I found myself struggling to even make time for mass, let alone a consistent prayer life. During the homily on Gaudete Sunday, the priest told us that our joy should not come from a thing, but from a person, the person of Jesus Christ. I started to think about where my joy comes from. I noticed that a lot of my joy came from things, whether that be possessions or grades or something else, it wasn’t coming from Jesus. But those things are not necessarily bad, they just don’t bring joy, they bring happiness. So what is the difference? Happiness is more of an emotion, it can be fleeting, or it can last for some time. Joy, on the other hand, is a deep set conversion of the heart, it will always be there even when it doesn’t feel like it or maybe even when happiness fades away. The priest shared a beautiful image of what joy that comes from the Lord looks like; he said that Mary, at the foot of the cross, experienced so much sorrow, yet she was still joyful because her trust was in the Lord, the eyes of her heart were facing upward, she could not be shaken.
I want to imitate Mary’s joy in my life. Even in the midst of adversities and trials I want my joy to come from Jesus. At some points during the end of the semester I lost that upward gaze to the Lord, and during that time it seemed like there was no light at the end of the tunnel. in this time when I thought I could have been more focused on advent, Jesus was working on my heart in such beautiful ways. I got the chance to celebrate my birthday with some of the the most incredible friends I have met in college. They all sent in short video clips saying what they loved about me and my roommate put them all together. It was such an incredible gift and truly a blessing to see just how much the Lord was able to work through me this year even when I felt I wasn’t doing much. After finals I was able to have a couple of days to spend time with friends, go ice skating, and take time to do a holy hour. It was a beautiful end to a beautifully messy semester. There was joy.
As advent approaches I pray that I can continue to prepare my heart, in any way I can, knowing that my attempt, although it may seem little and insignificant, means so much to the Lord.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice” -Phillippians 4:4