Consider it pure joy, my brothers, and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
— James 1:2-3
We’re all familiar with the famous tale of the How the Grinch Stole Christmas. But look around in the world and the Church these days on various social media outlets and websites, and you’ll find plenty of grinches who are trying to steal a lot more from you and me. They’re trying to steal our joy, as in our joy of the Lord. It’s the joy Christians are called to always embrace, regardless of our circumstances. Some of those online grinches are even trying to rob us of that joy during the week when we were given the very reason for our joy and our hope.
And why is that exactly? It’s not all that complicated or theological. Misery loves and needs company. Fear sells and if people are joyful, if they’re allowing the love of the Lord to lead them in their lives, then that love casts out the fear, as Scripture reminds us, and casts out the need to follow the fear mongers. Those who sell fear, or doom and gloom, for a living are trying to convince Catholics and other Christians that joy is equal to naivety, even ignorance. Don’t take the bait. There is a big difference between being joyful while focusing on God’s will in our lives and burying our heads in the sand, acting as if there are no problems in the world or the Catholic Church. One can be joyful, grateful, focused, and truly aware of the needs and issues of our day. As a matter of fact, I would point out that it’s the believer with a spiritual spring in his or her step, that is much more likely than the grinches of this world to go tackle some of the real needs that stretch before us.
One example would be my cousin John, who has always been so upbeat. I don’t think I have ever seen him without a big smile on his face. He is also a faithful Catholic who recently returned from Eastern Europe with a group of other concerned Catholics from the Archdiocese of Detroit. These joyful missionary disciples traveled to Poland with a local pastor to help Ukrainian refugees fleeing their war-torn country. John and those who joined him, could have stayed at home wringing their hands and shouting at the TV as they watched all the horrific scenes coming across the screen. They could have pointed fingers at those in and outside of the Church who might not be doing enough, or anything at all, to help with such a major humanitarian crisis. Instead, they hopped on a plane, rolled up their sleeves, and went about the joyful business of doing God’s work. After all, a smile, as the old saying goes, is the same in any language, especially the language of God’s love.
We have a choice this holiest of weeks, and every day, to light a candle with the joy of the Lord or continue to curse the darkness. If we believe that the darkness has not overcome the light of Christ, then give a big “yes” to joy and an even bigger “no” to, as a close friend of mind described them, the grinches trying to steal Easter. Remember to pray for those grinches, however, as we all know from that famous story, even the hardest of hearts can be changed for the good and the glory of God.
Have a Blessed Holy Week,
Be sure to visit EWTN’s Holy Week Page to learn all about why we commemorate Holy Week. And watch important programming for this holiest of weeks and into Easter and the Feast of Divine Mercy, including solemn events from Rome with Pope Francis, such as the “Ubi et Orbi” Blessing to the world (Sunday, 6amET). Visit EWTN Special Programming Page for details.
4 Simple Holy Week Tips
- Holy Thursday – Pray for Priests
- Good Friday – Pray the Stations of the Cross
- Holy Saturday – Pray for those Entering the Church
- Easter Sunday – Light a Candle and Pray for Peace in the World
Divine Mercy Novena
On Good Friday we start the Divine Mercy Novena to pray for souls, as requested by Our Lord, to St. Faustina. Visit DivineMercy.org to learn about the Novena, a special nine day prayer ending just before Divine Mercy Sunday, and how to pray it.
Attached to this Novena is a Plenary Indulgence. Learn more about that here. To receive the Indulgence be sure to go to Confession within 8 days of the Feast of the Divine Mercy, and to receive more special graces be sure to receive the Eucharist on Divine Mercy Sunday, if you are able to receive it.