Finding joy



“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11).

Happiness needs happy circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, is a little different because joy stays with you. It is a gift from God that finds a place in your heart, and fills your soul with peace and hope!

People are intentional about planning fun things to do outside their otherwise-busy schedules. We plan vacations and attend events with loved ones, and we create memories with photographs. These happy plans are a necessary part of life and provide a respite from the daily grind. When we return home, the nonstop laundry begins; the calendar fills up again; and the rigors of normal life return.

Young or old, we all need time to renew our spirit. The remedies for relaxing and enjoying life may look different for everyone. Our country has many scenic places to visit and learn about our history, as well as the historic contributions of the Catholic Church, and her arrival to America.  St. Boniface once said, “In her voyage across the ocean of this world, the Church is like a great ship being pounded by waves of life’s different stresses. Our duty is not to abandon ship but to keep her on course.”

There is no better experience for children than to learn about these treasures with their family. We have a closet full of photo albums capturing the memories of trips we planned with our children. We are enjoying new experiences as grandparents. Hopefully, our photos stored in a phone or a cloud will be available for future generations to enjoy.

We do not travel much, and we love sharing our home in the woods with those looking for a place to fish and relax. When we do venture out, we realize that people are the same wherever we go. The people we meet when traveling are generally likeminded and interested in sharing stories. Everything God created is good! We are blessed!

Our son and daughter-in-law invited us to go on a pilgrimage with their three young children. We traveled to Our Lady of Champion in Wisconsin on a beautiful September weekend. The eight-hour drive was guaranteed to challenge us with road construction and lots of traffic, but words cannot do justice to the peace we found as we arrived. We shared the grounds with people attending a sold-out Flame of Love Conference. Most of the attendees were of the grandparent generation, and seeing three little children enjoying this holy place warmed their hearts.

Our Lady of Champion is the only approved Marian apparition site in the United States, and is located in a small, unincorporated farm community near Green Bay. On Oct. 9, 1859, the Blessed Mother appeared to a Belgium girl named Adele Brise. Our Lady’s message to her: Teach the Catholic Faith to the children of a people losing their faith through neglect.

I hope to preserve the peace I felt in Champion, and I pray for the wisdom to seek the grace to make it happen. Where did this peace come from? Was it the actual place, knowing that Mary had appeared on the site? Was it in the faces of other pilgrims seeking the need for hope?

The joy I observed in our three young grandchildren is forever etched on my heart because they will always know the love of the Blessed Mother. The message from Our Lady of Champion to catechize the children in the uncivilized woods of Wisconsin is just as important in our communities today. The message witnessed by a broken moral compass of our society confuses both children and adults. Teach your children well, and joy will find you!! Amen!

You can read about this miracle story at: www.ChampionShrine.Org.