This series of video talks are summarized versions of talks given by Mark at Life Teen Camp Hidden Lake in August of 2019. Talk number one focuses on showing how our "let it be," after the model of Mary's "let it be," has great potential to impact the world by allowing more light, life, and love to enter in through us.
The following are brief introductions to the five Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. During a week of summer camp, I presented five talks, each based on one of these mysteries. Though they were created for camp, I have found them useful for my own prayer. Reading them before each mystery of the Rosary helps focus my mind and heart on just one or two items for meditation. (For more on Rosary meditation see my blog Making the Rosary More Meaningful).
They could also be used outside of the Rosary to simply meditate on a specific story of the Gospel. I hope they are a blessing!
The Church recommends we pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Mondays and Saturdays. I hope that these reflections will draw you deeper into the hearts of Jesus and Mary. When we meditate on the Scriptures, the deepest parts of our hearts begin to surface. Do not be afraid to let this happen and converse with your God about even the most secret parts of you.
1st Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to Mary
I beg for the grace "no" to my fears and "yes" to the great things God has in store for me. In this mystery, Mary was "greatly troubled at the saying [of the angel,] and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be." Holy Spirit, help me to ponder what is going on in Mary's heart as she wrestles with her fears and seeks the courage to say "yes," ("fiat"), to God: "let it be done to me according to Your Word."
2nd Joyful Mystery: The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth
I beg for the grace to live in the present moment and to experience God here with me no matter where I'm at physically, mentally, or spiritually. In this mystery, Elizabeth's child leapt in her womb and she is "filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry" blessings upon her cousin, Mary, and the fruit of her womb, Jesus. Holy Spirit, help me to ponder what the encounter and conversation between Mary and Elizabeth would have been like as they share their joys and struggles with each other in the midst of miracle pregnancies and the chaos of life.
3rd Joyful Mystery: The Nativity, the Birth of Jesus Christ, Savior of the World
I beg for the grace to put all of my trust in God who is always faithful to His promises. In this mystery, the angel proclaims to the Shepherds "good news of a great joy" that "to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." The child Jesus is the fulfillment of all God's promises. Holy Spirit, help me to hold the child Jesus in my arms and gaze upon Him with joy and gratitude as my heart is moved with love for Him who has loved me so much.
4th Joyful Mystery: The Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple
I beg for the grace to be open to hearing God's voice by continually offering my treasures to the Lord to do with them what He wills. In this mystery, Joseph and Mary "brought [Jesus] to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord." Holy Spirit, help me to ponder what is going on in the minds and hearts of Joseph and Mary as they offer Jesus, their greatest treasure, to God without knowing what is going to come in the future.
5th Joyful Mystery: The Finding of Jesus in the Temple
I beg for the grace to be willing to daily respond in obedience to God's will which I know leads to true freedom. At the end of this mystery, Jesus "went down with [Joseph and Mary] and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them." Holy Spirit, help me to imagine what life in Nazareth would have been like for Jesus as a [middle schooler / teenager / young adult] and consider how he would have demonstrated obedience to Joseph, Mary, and God in His daily life.
Marie Kondo, Dave Ramsey, and Brené Brown all propose a way to happiness in a certain area of life through the use of a method they have come up with.
Many people are familiar with the methods of these people, if you're not, you can click their names above and check out their websites.
Ultimately, I want to focus on what these three best-selling authors have in common.
So, here's the thing. Millions of people have found some essence, if not a whole heaping of peace, joy, freedom, serenity, wholeheartedness, and happiness by following the wise counsel of these people.
IF THIS IS TRUE, WHY DO I NEED JESUS?
Why not just adopt a vague spirituality that I can customize to my liking and mix with the best data-based ideas like the ones above?
There is a problem if I use these data-based strategies and mix-in my own customizable spirituality.
I was just listening to a podcast. This man finally did it. He wrote a book that went viral. He reaped the financial successes and the popularity. As he put it: everywhere he went, people were high-fiving him and excited to see him. He took his wife to Paris, played a lot of video games, and lived life however he wanted.
Then, he said it sank in. His greatest dream, to write a best-selling book, was accomplished. Now what? He began to feel hopelessness and despair sink in. What was he living for now?
I don't think this is an isolated occurrence for those who achieve fame and fortune.
How many other famous people could we also say "had it all" but then took their life or ended up addicted and unhappy? Some quick Google searching will tell you that the statistics are showing America to be on the rise for drug addiction, alcohol abuse, suicide rates and the like.
Maybe you have followed one of the methods of Marie, Dave, or Brené, or all of them. Are you really happy yet?
What these three people share in common can point us in the direction of complete happiness but only if they have as their foundation and center the one thing that is needful.
Jesus shares a lot in common with these three people:
JESUS' WAY TO HAPPINESS IS NOT THE EASY WAY
In fact, He said not to follow the easy way which "leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many" but rather to follow the narrow way which "is hard... and those who find it are few" (Matthew 7:13-14).
Jesus' way to happiness is hard. He doesn't just say this, He shows us. To get to the happiness of Resurrection and heaven, He goes through the cross. He takes up his execution tool. Why? Because people around Him are furious at Him for accepting who He truly is and living it boldly. He is the son of God. He is God*.
The way of Jesus to happiness isn't the only real way to true and lasting happiness because it's got similar themes and nuances that are also seen in the counsel of Kondo, Ramsey, and Brown.
Radical methods which follow the narrow way and emphasize discipline and commitment work because they follow the pattern of Jesus. Jesus is God. God created the world to work in this way. The easy way won't do it.
I hope to share the wisdom and experience of Marie Kondo, Dave Ramsey, and Brené Brown with many people by passing their books along and sharing how their methods have made my life better.
More than that, I hope to share the Word of God with whomever I can and invite them to follow the one person who has had the biggest impact on my life: Jesus Christ.
JESUS IS THE ONLY SURE WAY TO HAPPINESS NO MATTER WHAT COMES
How could His Apostles still rejoice and sing hymns of praise when put in prison or flogged in public (see Acts)? They had the one thing that was needful. Oh, and it wasn't just those guys from 2,000 years ago. So many Saints through the ages mimicked the same unusual freedom, joy, peace, and overall happiness in the face of the most horrendous situations.
Why do we need Christ if we have Kondo, Ramsey, Brené, Whole-30, Yoga.... must I go on?
Because in truth, when everything else fades, falls apart, or turns out to be false, only God remains. We long for more than just a "way to live." We long for truth and for love, the kind that stays forever. No matter what earthly methods you try, there's one person who has that kind of everlasting truth and love (and so much more), and its the one being who is eternal.
10 out of 10 recommendation: Jesus is the answer.
Feel free to email me or comment below if this has sparked questions for you and you want to talk more about it.
* By the way, Jesus is a real historical figure who claimed to be God. The evidence shows that the Gospels are not just the end product of a game of telephone which probably means they are filled with errors that people made up, rather, they are more likely historical biographies of the life of a man named Jesus of Nazareth who claimed to be God and who was seen by many people to have risen from the dead after being killed for His claims to be God. He is not just some nice idea. He is real. Check out this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ1osU9nkJ4) or read the book The Case for Jesus by Brant Pitre for more of an in-depth honest look at this claim.