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Cheerfulness

Memorial of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

First Reading: 1 John 3:22–4:6

Beloved:
We receive from him whatever we ask,
because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
And his commandment is this:
we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ,
and love one another just as he commanded us.
Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them,
and the way we know that he remains in us
is from the Spirit whom he gave us.

Beloved, do not trust every spirit
but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God,
because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
This is how you can know the Spirit of God:
every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh
belongs to God,
and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus
does not belong to God.
This is the spirit of the antichrist
who, as you heard, is to come,
but in fact is already in the world.
You belong to God, children, and you have conquered them,
for the one who is in you
is greater than the one who is in the world.
They belong to the world;
accordingly, their teaching belongs to the world,
and the world listens to them.
We belong to God, and anyone who knows God listens to us,
while anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us.
This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 2:7BC-8, 10-12A

R. I will give you all the nations for an inheritance.
The LORD said to me, “ou are my Son;
this day I have begotten you.
Ask of me and I will give you
the nations for an inheritance
and the ends of the earth for your possession.”
R. I will give you all the nations for an inheritance.
And now, O kings, give heed;
take warning, you rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice before him;
with trembling rejoice.
R. I will give you all the nations for an inheritance.

Gospel: Matthew 4:12-17, 23-25

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested,
he withdrew to Galilee.
He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea,
in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali,
that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet
might be fulfilled:

Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles,
the people who sit in darkness
have seen a great light,
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death
light has arisen.

From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say,
“Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

He went around all of Galilee,
teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom,
and curing every disease and illness among the people.
His fame spread to all of Syria,
and they brought to him all who were sick with various diseases
and racked with pain,
those who were possessed, lunatics, and paralytics,
and he cured them.
And great crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, and Judea,
and from beyond the Jordan followed him.

NAB

jan 4

Today, we celebrate the Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, wife, mother, founder of Sisters of Charity, and first native-born American citizen to be canonized. This was a woman who got things done!

How?

She echoes Saint John in the First Reading:

What was the first rule of our dear Savior’s life? You know it was to do his Father’s will. Well, then, the first purpose of our daily work is to do the will of God; secondly, to do it in the manner he wills; and thirdly, to do it because it is his will. We know certainly that our God calls us to a holy life. We know that he gives us every grace, every abundant grace; and though we are so weak of ourselves, this grace is able to carry us through every obstacle and difficulty.

She asked God what was next and then she just did the next thing. Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton was a firm believer in discerning His will and then going about it with firm resolve, doing it cheerfully, even when being cheerful wasn’t her first reaction. She believed that “cheerfulness prepares a glorious mind for all the noblest acts of religion—love, adoration, praise, and every union with our God.” It wasn’t the noble act that made her cheerful, nor was it the glorious mind. It was instead her cheerfulness that paved the way for the mind and the body to do the will of God with nobility.

Can we begin with cheerfulness? Practice intentional cheerfulness? It isn’t a forced smile through gritted teeth. Instead, it’s the prayerful plea for the ability to reflect God’s own joy in the image of the Creator that is you. It is His will for you to be cheerful. It is His will for you to exude His joy.

Ask God today to make you truly cheerful. Begin with cheerfulness. And then, go cheerfully  to do the next holy thing on your list.

photo by Jacqueline Kayleigh

Elizabeth Foss is a wife, the mother of nine, and a grandmother. She finds the cacophony of big family imperfection to be the perfect place to learn to walk in the unforced rhythms of grace. You can learn more about her here

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