Are we still a happy family?

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. He has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich

So, are you rejoicing?

I hope you didn’t forget that we still have over three weeks left in the Easter season. Although the church asks us to keep alive the joy of the new life of Easter Sunday right through Pentecost, for many of us our Easter might have ended with the last chocolate bunny we consumed.

Why do we find it easier to take on the sacrifices and disciplines of Lent, but struggle to celebrate for 50 days of Easter? I think it’s because we’ve forgotten how to be grateful. I believe that gratitude and joy are linked; they’re two sides of the same coin.

But I’ll come back to that in a bit. First, maybe we need a little infusion of laughter, just to get back on the Easter bandwagon. Let’s start with this little story:

As a kid, a man had a fear of someone being under his bed at night. Things did not get any better as an adult.

Wanting to do something about it, the man went to a psychiatrist and said, “I’ve got problems. Every time I go to bed, I think there’s somebody under it. I’m scared and it’s driving me crazy.”

“Just put yourself into my hands for a year,” said the doctor. “Come talk to me three times a week and we should be able to get rid of those fears.”

“How much do you charge?”

“Just $80 a visit,” replied the psychiatrist.

“I’ll sleep on it,” said the troubled man.

Six months later, the doctor met the man on the street and said, “Why didn’t you come to see me about those fears you were having?”

“Well, I did some figuring,” the man said. “Eighty bucks a visit, three times a week for a year is $12,480. My bartender cured me for $10. I was so happy to have saved all that money that I went and bought a new pickup truck.”

“Is that so?” said the psychiatrist with an air of disdain. “And how, may I ask, did a bartender cure you?”

“He told me just to cut the legs off the bed,” said the man. “Ain’t nobody under there now!”

Hey, can’t argue with that, can you?

As an editor, I’m fascinated by words. You might call me a lexophile, or lover of words. Here are some clever statements that should (I hope) make you chuckle:

  • I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.
  • Police were called to a day care center where a 3-year-old was resisting a rest.
  • To write with a broken pencil is pointless.
  • A thief who stole a calendar got 12 months.
  • When the smog lifts in Los Angeles, UCLA.
  • A bicycle can’t stand alone; it’s two-tired.
  • A boiled egg is hard to beat.
  • When she saw her first strands of gray hair, she thought she’d dye.
  • Acupuncture: a jab well done.

OK, when you’re finished groaning at those, let’s get back to that idea of gratitude and its link to joy. Someone said we’re grateful in “reverse proportion” to our blessings. In other words, a hungry man is more grateful for a morsel of food than the well-fed are with an overflowing table. Apparently, the more we have, the less we appreciate it.

By many standards, most Americans are richly blessed. In fact, we should be positively giddy every morning when we wake up. We have a roof over our heads, a climate-controlled environment, clean water, an incredible variety of food to consume, electricity, all manner of technological tools from smartphones to computers, good roads, local medical and dental services . . . and the list could go on.

Additionally, we have the freedom to practice our faith without the threat of imprisonment or martyrdom. We have beautiful places of worship, easy access to the sacraments, a plethora of helpful ministries and a wide variety of enrichment programs to deepen our faith.

Sadly, though, instead of having humble, grateful, joyful hearts, we choose to concentrate on what we don’t have or on the small irritants that rob us of a happy life. The season of Easter calls us back to an awareness of the taken-for-granted gifts of God.

So, if you find yourself in the doldrums today, shake it off by noticing the many blessings of God around you. And then, rejoice and share!

If you need a little help smiling, though, start with this thought: A grenade fell onto a kitchen floor in France, resulting in . . . (wait for it) . . . linoleum blownapart.

Sorry!

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