Thursday, May 28, 2015

joy and sacrifice

Joy is mysteriously intertwined with sacrifice, because the origin of all joy is Jesus Christ.

Joy seems to be in short supply these days. A quick look at the world around us, is all we need to convince ourselves of that.

Immediately, I think of my colleagues at work. I can say that many of them have little or no concept of joy. Most of them may be reasonably happy - things are good (or at least not bad) at home, work is not terrible - but they don't seem to have any particular joy in their lives.

Joy and happiness are most certainly not the same things. One can be joyful in unhappy times, even those filled with terrible suffering. 

Over last weekend, seven men were ordained to the holy priesthood for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. I was privileged to have the opportunity to photograph the Ordination Mass. Over the past several years I've spent as a photographer, ordinations have always been my favorite event to photograph - the joy is always so pure, so unconditional.

What about weddings, you say? Well, weddings are great, yo, but today, so few weddings are about anything more than contrived expectations of what it means to have a "perfect" wedding, that joy is frequently a guest whose invitation is forgotten. The secular invades the sacred, and joy is lost. And marriage preparation? With few exceptions, marriage preparation is often more focused on getting used to sharing the toothpaste (and of course, an awful lot of people getting married these days are already doing plenty more than that), and managing finances, than it is focused on the fact that the joy of marriage is pre-loaded with sacrifice.

Back to ordinations.

There is a certain kind of joy that marks those who have responded unreservedly to the Lord's calling. They understand that the origin of all joy is Jesus Christ. They have already made many sacrifices for their vocation, spending years in preparation for ordination, often far from home. They know that the price of their vocation is their entire life – “poured out like a libation” – even if they don’t fully know the depths of what future sacrifices that pouring out may entail. (If only marriage preparation helped couples understand the sacrificial nature of marriage…)

As it was sung at the Ordination Mass, “Take me as I am – summon out what I shall be – set your seal upon my heart, and live in me…”

That “summoning out” – the conforming of our lives to Christ – is sacrificial. Sometimes it hurts. But there is joy to be found in the sacrifice, and joy to be found in the surrender.

Linking up with Blessed Is She today on finding joy! 

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