The Test of Happiness is Gratitude!

thank you

This week I was researching for an article I am writing about G.K. Chesterton and I came across this gem of a quote from Chapter 4 of his work Orthodoxy. He states, “The test of happiness is gratitude.” There are few phrases that make me pause when I am reading and this was one of them. I have thought about this quote a lot today and figured it would be a good message to pass along.

Gratitude is defined as the quality of feeling or being thankful. Why a feeling may be arbitrary and susceptible to change “being” thankful has a more lasting feature to it. Because of this, I want to make this slight change to Chesterton’s quote– the test of happiness is [being] thankful!

According to a recent article I read online about the success of the restaurant chain Chik-fil-a, the power of saying “thank you” is quite tangible. The main thrust of the article states that Chik-fil-a’s leadership stresses the importance of manners and expressing gratitude towards customers in their employee training. As an occasional customer of Chik-fil-a, I can attest to the superb customer service and appreciation among workers when I visit their establishment.

On a more profound level, the Catholic Church has been proclaiming Chesterton’s message “The Test of Happiness is Gratitude” for over 2,000 years. In fact the most important thing Catholics participate in on a weekly or daily basis– the Mass– is centered on thanksgiving! The sacrament of the Eucharist, housed within the Mass, along with being the source and summit of the Catholic faith, actually is a transliteration of the Greek word eucharistia which means “thanksgiving”. I always come out of Mass being happier than when I came in. It is nice to have a reminder of thankfulness to re-orient myself if I stray away from this mindset during the week.

I do not believe it is a coincidence that the Catholic Mass and the success of Chik-fil-a are both connected to being thankful. God knows that mankind can only be truly happy when experiencing life as a gift. So to conclude, I want to thank all that have read my posts and for anyone who is reading my writing for the first time. I thank God for my faith, family, and friends. I hope you find at least three things to be thankful of today after reading this. Thank you again!

Thank you for sharing!

Realizing the Resurrection: Proofs from Scriptures, Saints, and My Experience

resurrection

Today Christianity across the world celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter is a celebration of a miraculous—and seemingly impossible—event. The feast of Jesus’ Resurrection holds a special place in my heart.  I wish to share the basic biblical proof of the Resurrection, examples from some saints, and my own personal experience.

Note: If you still have questions related to a more cerebral and logical argument for the Resurrection of Jesus I highly recommend Carl Olson’s: Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?

Gospel evidence

Since there a lot of evidence to refer to and I prefer to keep today’s post as concise as possible I will only focus on the two strongest pieces of evidence I found to be convincing for me in showing validity in Jesus’ Resurrection. First, the witness of the women being the initial people to notice the empty tomb is strong evidence. The reason for this is due to in 1st century Palestine life women did not enjoy the benefits of voting, membership in the workforce, or even respect to be witnesses in events like today.

Why would the Gospel writers uniformly state that the first witnesses to the empty tomb and to proclaim Jesus as risen were women unless it was true? It still does not make sense to me why the gospel writers would embarrass the apostles by placing women in a place of honor at being the first evangelizers of Jesus’ Resurrection unless that was the truth!

Secondly, the Gospel of Matthew already shows alternative explanations already surfacing to explain the disappearance of Jesus’ body when the tomb was opened. According to Matthew, the priests and elders charged the Roman soldiers to create a story to explain why the tomb was empty. They [priests and elders] state, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him while we were asleep’. If any word of this gets to the procurator, we will straighten it out with him and keep you out of trouble.” (Matthew 28:13-14).  This never made sense to me. If the apostles were fraudulent, why the Matthew plainly write about the theory of the stolen body of Jesus? Such a theory only makes sense as a lie developed by the priests and elders.

Saintly Sources

Because of the vast array of saints to attest to the truth of the Resurrection, I will only focus on two for conciseness’ sake—St. Peter and St. Paul. The thing that I really love about St. Peter is his fervor to follow the gospel after Jesus’ Resurrection. In addition to being the 1st pope of the Catholic Church, Peter testified to the truth of the Gospel as a martyr via crucifixion.

St. Paul represents arguably the greatest conversion in the history of Christianity. Paul went from being a murderer of Christians to the Church’s great evangelizer and writer of almost 2/3 of the New Testament. These two men show us that they encountered someone who transformed them. Peter and Paul’s conversions are an effect of the power of Jesus’ Resurrection!

peter and paul

My Testimony

While my own testimony does not hold the same weight at Scripture and Tradition, I still am convinced that certain things in my life transpired due to a power outside of my control and full understanding. During my darkest days a few years ago I learned of the power of God. He rose me up from the loss of a job and our miscarriages. God continues to demonstrate the glory of His Resurrected Son in seemingly ordinary things too. For example, I asked my cousin to pray for my wife for an important interview. My cousin told me, “Of course, and incidentally she [my wife] was the person my cousin and his fiancée scheduled to pray for, in a special way, anyways.” This is not the first time this seeming coincidence happened to my cousin.

Through Scripture, Tradition [the saints], and my personal experience with daily and extraordinary events I have come to more deeply realize the Resurrection of Jesus as an historical fact. I pray that you come to enjoy this truth in Scripture, Tradition, and your own life’s experiences!

Thank you for sharing!

3 Reasons Why my Secular Job Has Made Me a Better Catholic

I am a cradle Catholic. I was baptized at the age of 1 week. I went to a Catholic elementary school, middle school, high school, and college. I even attended a Catholic graduate school. Interestingly, it is at my secular work place that I have taken the virtues I acquired in Catholic schooling and deepened them. I give you three reasons why my secular job has made me a better Catholic.

  1. Different Perspective: The major difference between my Catholic cradle upbringing and my daily work today is summed up in a single word—perspective. I have learned to see relationships, problems, daily tasks, and even conversations from a different perspective. I used to view the world in a dichotomous manner. There is black or white. I still view the world largely in this manner, but I have learned that sometimes there is gray in the world. Sometimes both people may be right in workplace conflict. It just depends on my perspective. This ability that I am daily improving upon is not hampering my Catholic identity, rather enhancing it. By taking a different perspective on things, I acquired a tool to combat the sin of judgmental thinking.
  1. Changes through Change: Similar to viewing things from different perspectives, I have learned in my job that change is inevitable. I am becoming more and more patient in my secular work place. I firmly believe God has graced me with the opportunity of my job to help me develop and deepen the virtues of patience and understanding. I still have a long ways to go, but I can tell I have made great strides in my spiritual life through my learning to embrace change even though I may find it difficult sometimes.
  1. Seasoning Adds Flavor: Jesus urged his followers to be “the salt of the Earth” in his Sermon on the Mount Discourse (Matthew 5:13). The purpose of salt is two-fold: preserve and season food. I believe that I the reason that I thrive in a non-Christian environment is for those same reasons. God wants me to act as a preservative of Truth against this worldly culture which promotes the self. Secondly, God gave me the gift to evangelize in a special way to non-Catholics. I need to continue to pray for God to reveal his graces to me on how exactly He wants me to add “flavor” or joy to my workplace.

I will end with this question: How may you be the salt of the Earth? Everyone is valued and God has you placed in your current job for a reason. Ask Him for guidance in knowing your purpose.

Thank you for sharing!

I Self Identify as ______________.

A popular movement in the 21st century is people defining and identifying themselves under a multitude of appellations. Caused in large part from the rise of social media, humanity is self-reflecting more and more each day. However, as the title indicates, I am not concerned with how and who other people self-identify as. Rather I am writing as a means of self-reflection on how I have fallen prey to this idea that you need to have a certain identity in order to be deemed by society as legitimate and worthy.

Football fan, reader, runner, board gamer aficionado, writer, Catholic, husband, father, and volunteer. These are just a few of the “caps” I wear when people ask me who I am. While the first few titles are pretty superficial I have realized through prayer, especially in Eucharistic Adoration, that even my identification of being Catholic, husband, and a father to my wonderful children are still in the grand scheme of things only a hint at who I truly am–and who I am truly called to be.

I originally was going to write on another topic today. What changed my mind? It was a song on the radio whose title escapes my memory. I do remember this one verse: “You’re [God’s] love is my identity!” These five words inspired me. Just like the five wounds of Christ on the Cross which proves God’s love for us these five words of the song reminded me that God’s love is not limited to my earthly accomplishments. It does not matter how many “titles” I accumulate over the course of my years. The only thing that matters is God’s love.

That being said, I will fill in the blank of today’s title: I Self Identify as ___________, to read “I Self Identify as a child of God.” But regardless of whether I feel God’s love or not it does not change the fact that due to the grace given to me in Baptism– I will always be an adopted son of God. I pray that we may all experience God’s grace this week because our identity is only complete when we realize we are called to be children of God!

Thank you for sharing!