Monday, December 29, 2014

"The disease of a lugubrious face."

O God,
who gave the Martyr Saint Thomas Becket
the courage to give up his life for the sake of justice,
grant, through his intercession,
that, renouncing our life
for the sake of Christ in this world,
we may find it in heaven.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Ave Maria! Today is the feast of St. Thomas Becket, who gave his life for the cause of justice. What a splendid example he is for us in this day and age! As I was thinking about this holy man and courageous martyr this morning, I recalled that Pope Francis spoke of him last week in his  Christmas Greetings to the Roman Curia. By the way, the Holy Father's complete address is now available on the Vatican Web site here. It's only six pages long, not counting the footnotes, and is well worth reading and contemplating in its entirety. Yes, the short list of those 15 "ailment of the Curia" that can afflict all of us at one time or another is helpful, too, but the full speech itself is even better. I find it to be rather good material for making my New Year's resolution(s).

Here's what Pope Francis says about one of those ailments:
"The disease of a lugubrious face. Those glum and dour persons who think that to be serious we have to put on a face of melancholy and severity, and treat others –- especially those we consider our inferiors –- with rigour, brusqueness and arrogance. In fact, a show of severity and sterile pessimism are frequently symptoms of fear and insecurity. An apostle must make an effort to be courteous, serene, enthusiastic and joyful, a person who transmits joy everywhere he goes. A heart filled with God is a happy heart which radiates an infectious joy: it is immediately evident! So let us not lose that joyful, humorous and even self-deprecating spirit which makes people amiable even in difficult situations. How beneficial is a good dose of humour! We would do well to recite often the prayer of St. Thomas More. I say it every day, and it helps."
 And then, here is that prayer as it appears in the footnote to this paragraph:
“Grant me, O Lord, good digestion, and also something to digest. Grant me a healthy body, and the necessary good humour to maintain it. Grant me a simple soul that knows to treasure all that is good and that doesn’t frighten easily at the sight of evil, but rather finds the means to put things back in their place. Give me a soul that knows not boredom, grumbling, sighs and laments, nor excess of stress, because of that obstructing thing called ‘I’. Grant me, O Lord, a sense of good humour. Allow me the grace to be able to take a joke and to discover in life a bit of joy, and to be able to share it with others."
AACK! Not too confused! The Holy Father is referring to St. Thomas More, not St. Thomas Beckett! I better get that second cup of coffee going right now! I leave this blog post as it is, asking our dear Lord to fill our hearts with His joy as we continue to ponder anew all the wonders of His Love during this happy Christmas-tide.  Christ is born for us -- o come, let us adore Him!

Joy to the world! the Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods,
Rocks, hills and plains,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy!

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