Shepherds of Christ  
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July 10, 2008

July 11th Holy Spirit Novena
Scripture selection is Day 5 Period I.

The Novena Rosary Mysteries  
for July 11th are Joyful.




Come to China July 13th

or please tune in to the radio

and pray with us.



Fr. Joe's homily on the website weekly.

This is Rita Ring's brother.



4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 3, 2008 

Imagine a drug that causes you to live eight or nine years longer, make $15,000 more a year and be less likely to get divorced.  “Happiness seems to be that drug,” according to Martin Seligman a PhD psychologist who researches and writes about happiness.  If we’re miserable, can we make up our mind just to be happy as easily as if we were to take a pill?  To some extent we can.  Studies on twins say that about 50% of our happy or unhappy moods is genetic.  About 10% depends on depressing life circumstances such as being extremely poor, gravely ill or losing a loved one.  The other 40% we can control and is influenced by what we do to make ourselves happy.  We just have to be careful not to pin our hopes for happiness on things like perfect health, lots of money, and good looks, which bring only a tad greater happiness than those less blessed.  True happiness flows from deeper values such as engagement with family, work or a passionate pursuit, and finding meaning from some higher purpose.  Does that sound like getting out of ourselves?  Sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves just won’t do it. 


Four ideas that I think are very helpful for increasing happiness are (1) Being active (such as exercise) or (2) putting on a happy face.  I think when we smile or laugh it tricks our mind into thinking we’re happy and we feel happier.  (3) I’ve always preached that gratitude is the key to happiness.  Psychologists are suggesting that people keep a gratitude journal, writing down at the end of the day the things that happened that cheered them up.  Experts say counting your blessings may be the single most helpful thing you can do for you happiness.  (4) Doing good things for others can help too.


There are those times when a person needs professional help and/or medicine.  There is that 50% that is genetic where some types of depression seems to be inherited or that 10% when a person is in a seriously difficult place in life.  Self medication with alcohol or other forms of addiction only add to the problem.  If you need the help, get it.  There’s no shame in that.  A lot of depression is due to internal chemistry or external circumstances which a person can’t handle on their own.  For many of us the attitude we have toward life (seeing the glass as half full instead of half empty), the attitude of gratitude, of helping others, of getting out of ourselves, of surrounding ourselves with cheerful people or positive thoughts can help improve our own happiness quotient. 


Then there’s our faith which gives us hope. Jesus gives us the beatitudes, which form the introduction to his sermon on the mount.  His sermon is three chapters long, by the way, which we will totally miss.  We’ll hear the very last part in June after the Lent and Easter cycle.  Jesus is talking to the common people of his day, people who were living close to the edge, people under the rule of Rome, people surviving day to day.  He is letting them know life’s troubles and difficulties will some day be reversed for those who open their hearts to the Kingdom he came to announce.  The Greek word (and Greek is the language in which we find the original form of the gospel we have) the Greek word that begins each beatitude is “μακάριος.” The word means “happy” in an ordinary sense, but it also means one who is especially happy or favored or fortunate.  That’s why it is translated “blessed.” 


Reflecting on the beatitudes, it makes perfect sense to me to say that those who are poor in spirit, i.e., who are satisfied with simple things in life, those who are merciful, those who are clean of heart will be happy or blessed.  It wouldn’t make much sense at all to say “happy” or “blessed” are those who mourn, those who hunger or thirst for righteousness, those who are persecuted unless somehow God would remove their sadness and let them share in his joy.  In that lies our faith and hope.  The thing that keeps me going is to keep believing that God can bring something good out of everything.  Without the happiness and hope that thought gives me, I would have given up in despair many times.  Similarly I have often heard the Archbishop say during difficult times: “God’s in this somewhere.”  I don’t always see how God can make things better; I just believe he can.  That’s because I believe in the resurrection.  If God could turn Good Friday into Easter Sunday, he can turn our sadness, our losses, our crises, our sicknesses into a blessing for us.  That is the hope God gives us. 


The Holy Father just finished his second encyclical: On Christian Hope.  He says: our great hope – faith in Jesus – can sustain people during the roughest of times.  He goes on: we need God otherwise we remain without hope.  That’s what brings us to Mass every week. We celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection, his body given for us and to us, and his resurrection that gives us hope that even death cannot defeat us if we stay in union with him.  Blessed are we who believe in him and blessed are you for being here today.  Amen. 




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