When my grandma turned 91, I remember her saying: “You can find joy in all stages of life.” That’s always stuck with me. I know it to be true in regards to getting older, but I also believe it to be true in relationship to the world: You can find joy in all circumstances of life.
St. Paul would agree. He’d say: “Rejoice in the Lord always” and “Have no anxiety about anything.” Sounds awesome and impossible all at the same time. So, how do we follow Grandma and St. Paul’s advice to find joy and avoid anxiety? By following who they followed: Jesus Christ.
To follow the Lord unreservedly is discipleship. This is the universal vocation for us all. From the moment we are baptized until the time they lay us in the ground, we are called to be Jesus’ disciples.
Discipleship is how we learn from the Lord who says: “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” By following Jesus we learn how to remain joyful in all circumstances. He teaches us not only by His words, but also by His example.
But what does discipleship actually look like on me in the 21st century? To be sure, Jesus is not an imaginary friend, nor is He simply a historical figure we read about. Jesus is alive! And He lives in the hearts of all baptized Christians.
Through Baptism we have been anointed with the Holy Spirit. As St. Paul says, “God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” When we follow the voice of Holy Spirit, we follow Christ. And when we follow Christ, we follow the Father. Therefore, discipleship is following the voice of God in our hearts.
This is where joy can be found all throughout life. When we are tuned in to Christ dwelling in our hearts we share in His joy. This is evident in good times, but how about in times of struggle? Can we still be joyful then? Christ shows us the answer.
Just before Jesus’ betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane, which led to His suffering and death, He prayed for us. Speaking to His Father He said: “But now I am coming to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” By following Christ, who remained joyful in the midst of suffering, we can learn to do the same.
Sounds simple. And in its essence it is. However, we have an adversary who is determined to disrupt our discipleship. Satan tried hard to distract our Lord from following the voice of God, and he does the same with us. If he succeeds, we no longer experience the joy of discipleship and consequently, frustration and anxiety set in.
In our times, the devil is loud. His booming voice is almost deafening. So much so that it is often hard to distinguish the devil’s voice from God’s voice. He comes through the news, entertainment, social media and the like. Not that these venues are inherently evil, but very often they produce in our heart the fruit of the devil: fear.
Fear is the voice Satan, which destroys joy in our lives. We see this dynamic played out in the life of Jesus, who teaches us how to deal with the devil. When good intentioned Peter tries to dissuade Jesus from suffering, our Lord turns to him and says point blank: “Get behind me, Satan!” Our Lord recognized that the voice coming through Peter was laced with fear and not from God. Having no tolerance for fear or the devil, Jesus sternly rebukes Peter.
This is how our Lord stayed joyful in all circumstances. He did not follow fear. In fact, He didn’t even let fear enter His mind. This is the secret to joyful living. If the media I am listening to, even if it is good intentioned, is producing fear in my life, turn it off!
The fruits of the Holy Spirit are love, joy, peace, and the like. When we follow the voice that bears these fruits in our heart, we follow Christ. However, in order to tune in to that Voice, we need to tune out of any voice that sounds of fear.
Jesus said: “Let not let your hearts be troubled.” Discipleship is following the voice of God in our hearts, which produces joy in our lives. If we want to be joyful in all circumstances of life, then let’s follow the example of St. Paul and my grandma, and follow Jesus Christ.
Finding Peace and Purpose on the Bronc Called Life
Learn from Fr. Bryce in his book The Catholic Cowboy Way.
In the west the cowboy way is a code of living. It is a mode of determination and perseverance that won’t quit until the job is done. It is also a lighthearted way of having fun even through life’s ups and downs.
The Catholic Cowboy Way takes these same virtues and incorporates them into our walk with Christ. Following Jesus takes grit. By going all in with Him, Jesus teaches us how to fulfill the Father’s will with passion and zeal. By learning from our Lord, we can also develop a childlike heart that can find peace and joy in the midst of the craziness of life in the twenty-first century.
Incorporating two thousand years of Christian Tradition, The Catholic Cowboy Way seeks to help cowboys practice the Catholic Faith and Catholics discover their inner cowboy. Catholicism is about being fully human. The rawness and realness of the cowboy way can help Catholics discover God in depths never imaginable. The Catholic Faith can help cowboys complete their ultimate quest for Heaven on earth.
1 Philippians 4:4,6.
2 John 15:11.
3 Galatians 4:6.
4 John 17:13.
5 Matthew 16:23.
6 Galatians 5:22.
7 John 14:1.
Image: Photo by Xan Griffin on Unsplash