By Father John Catoir J.C.D.

Life can be difficult at times, but all things considered, it’s lovely to be human. Thanks be to God, we were all given such an incredible gift at birth: the gift of life. Dare I say that in many ways we’ve made great progress since then.

At birth, every baby has a body made up of 640 muscles, 270 bones, 44 teeth, and about 2 trillion cells. The adult human body consists of approximately 30 trillion cells, and about the same number of teeth.

If you have time to spare someday, do yourself a favor, and Google “The Miracle of Birth.” It’s an astonishing 12-minute animation video on U-Tube, showing the development of a human infant from its earliest stages, right through to its birth. It’s quite amazing.

What each of us went through during those nine months of gestation is truly mind boggling. But here we are now. May I ask a personal question? How is everything going? Do you agree that it’s lovely to be human? Are you experiencing the joy that Christ promised?

By now, you’ve exercised quite a bit of endurance just to stay alive. St. Paul said, “You need endurance, so that when you have done God’s will, you may receive the joy that Jesus promised. Rejoice always.”- Hebrews 10:36.

 Jesus made that promise several times. “Those who love me, and keep my words, my Father will love, and come into them, and we will make our abode in them.” John 14:23.

Caryll Houselander, a favorite author of mine, commented on this mystery, “In order to love as Jesus loved, pray for the courage to accept the fact that Christ’s joy is in your very life, right now.”

St. Teresa of Avila also had some wise words on how to be a joyful Christian. She lived this truth, “Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you or cause you pain. All things are passing, but God’s love for you never changes.”

I can hear your next question, “But how can you let nothing disturb you? Life is always in such a turmoil? True, and you’re only human. I agree! On your own, you can’t go through life undisturbed, but you are not on your own. You are not a poor helpless creature.

Start with the Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the thing I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”  

Imitate St. Teresa who simply put on the will to trust The Lord in all circumstances. If you feel yourself slipping into discouragement, laugh at your wobblily knees, but don’t fret.  You will never despair, as long as you are willing to turn to God for help.

Prayer can help you to withstand the trials of life. Pray for the strength to put on the indomitable will to trust God’s mercy and love. Remain optimistic.

Did you know, in Japan the plum is the symbol of courage? Because the plum tree is so optimistic, it puts forth its blossoms even when it’s snowing.

May the Lord be your strength and your joy.

Father John Catoir, J.C.D., is a retired priest of the Diocese of Paterson.