Column: Oh where, oh where has the Easter joy gone?

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

I’m shocked that the news media has not picked up this story:

A group of Franciscan friars were living in a secluded area of the Rocky Mountains. Because they had little money, they had to come up with a way to support their community. One day, they cut some lovely flowers from the forests around the monastery, took the blooms to the local marketplace and sold them. They made $25.

Encouraged by their initial success, the friars started to bring flowers to the market every day. In no time, they’d earned $1000. Sadly, when the provincial learned of the business, he was furious. He lectured the friars about the evils of money and forbade them from selling any more flowers. Instead of obeying, though, the friars became rebellious and continued to peddle their flowers in town.

Finally, the provincial was forced to hire a guard named Hugh to make the friars obey and stop the flower sales. It took two whole years, but when the provincial was finally convinced the flower sales had ended, he let the guard go.

However, as soon as the friars discovered that Hugh wasn’t watching them anymore, they went right back into the flower business, which proved to be more lucrative than ever.

When word of this came to the provincial, he went ballistic. His assistant suggested that they go ahead and hire Hugh again.

“You’re right, of course,” the provincial sighed. “Only Hugh can prevent florist friars.”

OK, go ahead and groan. (If you don’t get it, ask some “old” person about Smokey the Bear.) But don’t blame me for the story. I got it from Deacon Tom Sheridan, the author of three books of Catholic jokes. Address all complaints to him in care of ACTA Publications. I understand that though he is humble in secular matters, he does have an altar ego. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)

I hope these puns make you chuckle a little. After all, we’re still in the Easter season until June 8. I suspect, though, that many left their joy at the church doors when they exited Mass on Easter Sunday. Oh, some remnants may have remained while enjoying an Easter meal or chomping down on a chocolate bunny or two. And isolated events like first Communions, graduations, weddings and Mother’s Day gave temporary joy, but it’s rare that people at this point in the season are still filled with the excitement of Easter.

That’s why I’m just now sending out my Easter cards. Lest people think I’ve lost my calendar (or my mind), I’ll include a little note inside that explains to recipients why the card is not “late.” I’ll also encourage them to find their second wind and rediscover that Spirit of Easter joy for the next few weeks.

Just for fun, I Googled “how to be joyful” and up popped over 19 million entries. That was nothing, though, compared to “how to be happy,” which yielded over 2 billion Google hits. With all this information available, why do people’s faces reflect almost anything but joy?

I propose that we Christians make it our immediate goal to change that. And the first place to start might actually be with ourselves. I know that when I’m particularly impatient or snarky, it stems from not taking time to pray, rest and exercise.

So, if you need a mid-season infusion of Easter joy, try one or more of the following:

1. Learn contentment and gratitude. Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have.

2. Notice nature. Take a walk outside, for example, and pick up a flower or a leaf and really look at its color, texture and structure.

3. Do something nice, anonymously, for someone. Repeat weekly.

4. Live in the moment and savor all those taken-for-granted “presents” in the present: a cup of coffee, birds serenading, or a refreshing breeze.

5. Cultivate positive relationships. Call, visit, email, Skype — use every means available to build up and maintain a web of supportive people.

6. Be compassionate and forgiving. These attitudes soften and heal the heart.

7. Treat your body — not just your mind — like it deserves to be happy, by eating healthier, exercising and getting sufficient rest.

8. Watch a funny movie or silly YouTube cat video. Laugh until you cry.

And, by the way, if you ever need an ark to save two of every animal, I noah guy.

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