I remember the first time I was reading this document was for one of my classes. (I guess I should preface this by making a note- there is a difference between reading for class and reading for enjoyment). Well, one night I was reading this document for class the next day. Let’s just say that a few paragraphs might have been over looked at first. But then, as I was skimming the document I found one word that caught my eye and that was “sourpusses.” Being the seminarian that is always told my writing isn’t “academic enough,” I treasured this find! This led me to go back and read the document in its entirety, even though that meant staying up late. The Church does not need a bunch of “sourpusses” behind pulpits or in the pews, but rather joyful and faithful followers who have Christ as the center of their lives. Back to the opening paragraph of Evangelii Gaudiuam, “With Christ joy is constantly born anew” (EG, 1). When Christ reigns in your life, joy radiates from your being. This does not necessarily have anything to do with you, but the way Christ works through you. This year I have been blessed to serve at Rosary Hill, which is a hospice center in Hawthorne, NY. This hospice center is run by the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne. These sisters do incredible work and do not charge anyone a penny. Many of the family members and friends of the patients speak of how the sisters treat their love ones as though it was their own father or mother. One common question I get from the patients loved ones, “Where do the sisters get all of their joy?” Those who do not believe in God and those who do both ask this same question. Those who do not believe in God are left bewildered because the sisters are not married, do not have biological children, and live a radical life of service. But those with the eyes of faith know the answer, because they are following their vocation. They are where the Lord wants them to be and they have had the courage to say yes! Not only that, they also have Christ at the center of their lives. Back to our favorite line from Evangelii Gaudiuam, “With Christ joy is constantly born anew” (EG, 1).
Brothers and Sisters, if anyone has the logical reason to be “sourpusses,” it would be the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne. But because of their closeness to Christ, this joy does not lead them astray. In fact, most times the joy radiates to others who are going through very challenging times. This harkens to a point that I personally ask myself every day, do I know about Jesus, His life, His teachings, and His followers? OR Rather- Do I Know Jesus? Do I have a personal relationship with Him? These are questions everyone should be asking themselves, especially those discerning a call to the priesthood or religious life. As we approach the end of the season of Lent in preparation for Easter, I think it is a great time to ask ourselves the questions – Am I the sourpuss behind the pulpit or sitting in the pew? OR am I like the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne who have Christ close and have joy constantly being born anew?