This Advent season, the Mercyhurst community reflects on “How has your faith provided happiness for you?”
Read reflections by Michelle Simpson ’10 current graduate student and employee at Mercyhurst North East, Abby Badach, marketing coordinator, and Zach Moss ’14, current senior at Mercyhurst.
Reflection by Michelle Simpson
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). This is my mom’s favorite bible verse. I never understood why when I was
younger, however, as I got older I realized that this was so because this verse brought my mother through a very dark time in her life (a time when she was diagnosed with cancer while being a single mother to three young girls). She needed faith then, she needed hope even more, and it was love that made her strong and kept her going.
I write this because that is the foundation of my faith and ultimately my happiness. My mother’s past illness and other difficult times in my life have caused me to have a deep faith in God and his powers, because he has brought me through all of those dark times. Many times he did so through the help of family members and even friends, some very distant. Therefore, I have faith in God, hope in people and love from and for my family and friends. Therefore, I have everything I need to be happy. Through faith I found true happiness.
My mother liked the King James Version of the verse above – the one that substituted the word charity for love. She would say she always had love, but she learned faith and hope through dealing with her illness and now she needed to learn charity. Though this may not be a true definition of the word, my mom would say that human beings are born with love, but it is the expression of love that is charity. Charity is the act, love is the feeling. Now, I understand what she meant. Charity is loving unconditionally. It is an act that is selfless, pure and does not require a reward. Now like my mother, I seek to find charity in my heart. I think that I experience true happiness when I get to share that act of love with others. After all I have heard that “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return” – Moulin Rouge.
Reflection by Abby Badach
What makes you happy? At this time of year – at least for me – few things can compete with the smell of toasty pine braches as I alleviate winter’s chill with good friends, lingering around
an outdoor campfire. My happiness list goes on: Scruffy, friendly dogs. The sound of my father’s acoustic guitar. The gleeful, lopsided waddle of my cousin’s three-year-old daughter as she runs to hug me at Christmas dinner.
Our personal happiness isn’t an island. What fills us with joy and light and peace and all good things also intersects with the lives of others – not to mention God’s own will for us and the world. That’s why, for me, the concept of “happiness” is so intimately entwined with vocation. For this, I refer to one of my favorite quotes: “Vocation is the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.”
The world needs rocket scientists and doctors and preschool teachers – quite a lot, in fact. The world needs introverts and extroverts; husbands, wives, parents, women religious and priests; risk-takers and contemplators. Without this diversity, how else would we get to know such a vast and omnipresent God?
So often, we try to please everyone. We wear too many hats. We puff ourselves up and pat ourselves on the back and remind ourselves that – hey – I’ve got this – and won’t this make people so impressed? But what good does that do us? God? The world?
To be truly happy, be silent. Pray for clarity, turn inward and discern what brings you your deepest joy. It’s a challenging journey. You’ll face some loud inner voices and some quiet ones, both telling you which way you should go. But give it to God. Trust yourself. And stay true to the path that leads to the unique place within your heart and God’s – the place where God is calling you to remain.
That warmth and light rivals the toastiest of all winter campfires.
Reflection by Zach Moss
A sense of belonging and finding a place to belong, aren’t these aspects of happiness? Advent is a time of waiting for the arrival of Jesus. A person who understood the longing and
yearning for a sense of belonging and a home. Born in a manger and no room at any inn, Jesus was familiar with humble beginning. By being part of Campus Ministry over the four years of my university career, I have found a place that accepts me and allows me to use my gifts to serve others. When I am at home within myself and grounded in my faith, I am able to reach out to others and love them according to how they need to be loved.
Through serving others, I have found some happiness. Last year, I was able to participate in the spring break service trip. We learned and served families whose lives had been impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Cosmo was a home owner of the house where we did demolition and rehabilitation work. His home was a property owned by his parents, who passed away before the storm. While he knew many people in the community, he struggled with finding a place to belong. His house covered in mold no longer provided a safe shelter or the ability to rent the various rooms in it to provide him a source of income. He lived with no heat and no hot water during the storm and while we worked on his place. Despite the lack of these comforts, Cosmo still managed to have a smile on his face.
Each group that came to work on his house, Cosmo provided his own form of hospitality by purchasing donuts at one of the locally owned businesses. With a smile on his face and huge donuts, he thanked each person for their willingness to spend time working on his home.
Advent is a time of waiting. Cosmo is a person who is waiting for his home to be in a state where he can live in it and make it a home again. Through interacting with people like Cosmo, I am reminded that happiness doesn’t result from material possessions. It can be derived from the simple pleasure of serving others and finding a sense of belonging by interacting with people.