A Gift of a Man of Joy

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A Gift of a Man of Joy

A Gift of a Man of Joy

St. Peter’s in downtown Chicago was filled with marathon runners, upscale people, visitors, tourists taking pictures, parish members, and us, my husband and four children. As I settled into the pew next to one of my husband’s best friends, also there to run the marathon, I noticed a slender, black man sitting in a pew behind us. He was dressed in a tattered and noticeably old shirt but that was not what caught my eye.

It was his smile. It was from a place of pure joy something you only witness on the faces of the mentally ill. It was that look that makes you realize how happy you could potentially be and how much you should reach for that type of joy.

As we sang the opening hymn I could hear his soft voice and noticed he was looking up and truly praising God. My stereotypical mind wandered and thought maybe he is just trying to stay out of the cool evening air for awhile and I wondered if he was even Catholic. He quickly proved my biased thoughts wrong when I heard him recite the Nicene Creed. His eyes looked as though he could see something we others could not.

When the ministers of hospitality came around with the collection baskets I thought for sure that he would let it pass him by without a donation. After all, even if he wasn’t homeless he for sure didn’t look like he had anything to give monetarily. As the basket passed him by I saw him drop a rolled up amount of bills along with some change into that basket and my heart sank. This man who obviously had very little was giving back to God. This man who to the world appeared to be “different” from the rest of us looked more connected to God than anyone I have ever witnessed in my life. He sang and smiled, he listened and prayed, and he donated and was filled with appreciation to God.

At the sign of peace I shook his hand. He barely grasped mine and I peered into his eyes searching for the secret to his joy, his overwhelming happiness. He never stopped smiling, the entire Mass. As he left he genuflected and walked out with a smile on his face. He left me wondering how do we reach that joy. How do we love without limits? How do we smile and feel joy that deep and unconditional?

I have taught recently in my senior class on Catholic Social Teaching that the poor are closer to God because there are fewer distractions between God and the poor. As wealthy people, we are distracted by possessions, technology, careers, money, status, and standing.

It’s not that God loves the poor more, it’s that the poor love God more.

What did this man see that we cannot? How can he love God more fully and trust Him so completely that he gave without hesitation? Where did he find that joy and inner peace and ability to not stop smiling?

God gave me a gift that afternoon. A gift of a man of joy that from the world’s opinion had nothing but from my perspective has everything we all desire; pure joy and love of God.

Copyright 2013 Lori Hadorn-Disselkamp

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About Author

Lori Hadorn-Disselkamp is first and foremost a mother of four children under the age of 17. She has been married to the love of her life, Aaron, for over 19 years. Lori has been writing at her own website Faith Filled Mom for over 6 years. She writes about the journey of faith we live daily and how we can recognize God in this world. She has completed her 3rd year of teaching theology at a high school level and is also a current student of Loyola University Extension Program of Ministry earning a Master’s Degree in Religious Education. Her life is busy, exciting, overwhelming at times but always bursting with her faith in God. Lori hopes that you will find something that might touch your heart in her writing so that she can continue to pursue her purpose in life; to bring people closer to God one word, one moment at a time.

2 Comments

  1. Thank you Lori! This was a beautiful post…one of those that touches the bottom of the heart where the greatest stirring occurs. Love God More…Love God More…Love God More…I hope that tumbles in my head until it sticks like glue! Blessings on your day!

  2. Really wonderful article Lori! The joy this young man was reflecting reminded me of the lack of joy and participation I witness so much in attending mass at any parish. So many times I witness those who just stand there not singing, not praising, praying or saying the basic prayers. They are many who just stand there staring straight ahead in silence. Our faith teaches us to participate with words and song, etc. More and more I see less participation. With this I am finding a greater freedom to become more involved in a mass. To sing louder, praise with hands out, smile more and show express my thanks for the Sacramental moments. The mass is a celebration and we need to reflect greater joy!

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