reflection from cole wilson

Well-Worn Paths of Joy: Authentic Lives in the Resurrection // Sr. Maria Caeli Parmeter, OP

Cole is a cradle Catholic, born and raised in Washington. He attends St. John of the Woods Parish in Tacoma where he has a lot of family ties. Now in his mid-20s, he's a fully licensed commercial electrician for the city of Seattle. Over the last few years, he's been diligently attending bible study with Mass Consumption Tacoma Catholic Young Adults and even runs a night or two. Cole is deeply invested as part of The Offertory Team. He loves Mother Mary and especially the Prayer to the Immaculate Queen of Peace. He is also interested in looking into the life of St. Joseph, who as the earthly father of Jesus raises the Son of God. Even after his weekly 4-mile-rosary-ruck, count on Cole to bring the cocktail shrimp to the next potluck!

Sr. Maria Caeli's THREE LESSONS found in her presentation about authentic joy serve as a brief description of what all Catholics should know and strive to be.

LESSON ONE: Be aware of God's presence.
In the very beginning of the video, Sr. Maria Caeli stated, "Always remain joyful." This stuck out to me as a personal reminder she uses for her everyday. I can relate to this practice as I often times do this for myself--saying a phrase and remembering the truth behind it. She also tells us that to be aware of God IS to be joyful and we need to be full of joy. Most of the time, I feel many of us take this for granted. We may know this, but it's more like we don't care enough and it's not a priority. We need to remind ourselves of God and how we're surrounded by love.

Sr. Maria Caeli found inspiration from the life of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, when she recalls feeling something stirring in her when she prayed. It was alive. When St. Elizabeth then received counsel from a priest, she learned that it was God. Later on, when she went to a new convent, the Mother Superior said she loved her name because Elizabeth's name meant "house of God." As her body is the house of God, our bodies should be as well. Sr. Maria Caeli made the full-circle-connection that she, too, felt and acknowledged God's presence as an indwelling of living joy found amidst the periods of silence to the everyday tasks. She wraps up this portion quite nicely by quoting St. Thomas Aquinas, "To be in the presence of the Beloved is joy."

LESSON TWO: Trust in God's goodness.
I loved Sr. Maria Caeli's concept of Adam and Eve grasping for the apple, the very thing they thought they needed. As we are the banished children of Eve, we can ask ourselves, "What are the things we are grasping for?"

I have a lot. It might be that next raise or that next job, but in faith, I know it will all work out. Yet, when thinking I have joy because I conquered my last hurdle, the temptation of another new thing to grasp returns. We think we need these things for joy, but we don't. "We need to seek the things from above," Sr. Maria Caeli stated. Even through tragedy, more of us need to see the good and trust that everything is going to work out okay.

LESSON THREE: True joy is to will the good for others.
She quotes Bishop Barron stating, "If what we say from the Beatitudes are true, then looking at Jesus being crucified is indeed truly a picture of a happy man." Love is for the other and doing what is best for them. Redemption can be found in those moments. Jesus' will to suffer and die for you is the purest form of love. He did this willingly out of the love in his heart for you. My take-away is for us to sacrifice like Jesus, our God. This is the greatest form of joy, because you are doing the Will of God. Sr. Maria Caeli, inspired by heavenly wisdom, put down what I would say the "basics" of what it means to be Catholic--our need to be aware of God and be full of joy. Trusting in Him causes us to witness His grace, and to find love and joy in others. Through imitating Jesus, our souls strive to be closer to God.

Hopefully, when the pandemic is over, I can see you all at The Offertory in person!