During the school year, there are many things that make me happy. For example, school days with minimal interruptions or morning tardies or the school liturgy that goes with such ease and grace that I can listen to the homily. Other things like completing Spike’s News before leaving on a Friday afternoon or receiving a perfect health score during a surprising health services visit also bring happiness to my heart. Who can ignore things like a perfectly working copy machine, finishing a hot cup of coffee between meetings, or a parent conference that goes better than expected?
While these instances of happiness happen throughout the day, they sometimes are replaced with circumstances and scenarios where the happiness quickly evaporates and turns into an array of other emotions. Emotions such as sadness, fear, frustration, uncomfortableness, and exhaustion. Unfortunately, human nature then begins to replace this happiness with not so happy feelings.
Our Catholic faith and human psychology help us understand why this shift in feeling happens to everyone, perhaps more frequently than we care to admit. The reason is that there is a difference between being happy and being joyful. Happiness is short and temporary. It is contingent on a particular event or activity. Once we complete this activity or leave the event, that happiness has the potential to fade faster than a Fruit Strip stick of gum we used to enjoy as kids.
Unlike happiness, joy is a stronger emotion that overwhelms our hearts and minds. Joy is not based on one particular event or activity, but rather an ongoing experience that cannot be weakened. More importantly, joy brings us a sense of grace and peace.
So, as we embark on this new school year, I have selected Make a Joyful Noise as our spiritual theme to guide our mission and Catholic identity, our academic excellence, and our communion and community. It is my prayer that in the midst of the happy moments we experience this year, each of us finds the JOY in what we do as parents, as educators, as students, as parishioners, and as Christians and praise God for that JOY! That despite the challenges and obstacles that come with parenting and educating children in an increasingly difficult society, we find the JOY that sustains us for the journey and that we find this JOY through Jesus, Others, and You! Finally, it is my prayer that together we Make a Joyful Noise and allow our JOY to become contagious to others giving the hope our society eagerly seeks.