This devotion was shared by NLC alto, Mary Kay Knapp, prior to rehearsal on March 18, 2014.
I considered a number of different topics for this devotional, and finally decided to talk about joy (or should I say “choy” to this group!). It truly has been my joy to sing in the NLC this year, and I thank all of you who have whole-heartedly been a part of this remarkable, joyful year!
You might think talking about joy during Lent seems counter intuitive, but I don’t think so. Through Christ’s example of self-giving love in His passion and resurrection, we have the light and joy of His presence with us always. As Robert Barron has written, “It is the supreme paradox of the Christian spiritual tradition that we become filled with joy precisely in the measure that we contrive a way to make of ourselves a gift. By emptying out the self in love for the other, we become filled to the brim with the divine life.”
And so, in as much as each of us chooses to give of our time, energy, and musical gifts for the NLC, we find that we have been gifted even more so with transcendent experiences of singing in which the joy and love of the divine has been revealed to us, and becomes us!
One of the first people I met at the NLC cookout last summer commented about my rather broad smile, and continues to make similar comments nearly every week – which I love. I think he thinks I have a secret joke I’m not telling anyone, but truthfully, the only response I have for the joy of being surrounded by such a wonderful group of people is to smile!
This isn’t the first time someone has inquired about my smile. One of the high school secretaries where I taught asked me “What I was on?” I found that in 34 years of teaching, my smile was a great asset and had great potential to heal and affirm people.
My smile originates from two amazing people who taught my nine siblings and myself to find joy through giving our best – to Jesus, Others, and then You – JOY! Jack and Lois Knapp are living their eternal reward now, but you can’t help but smile when you see their contagious, heartfelt smiles. And so I’d like to conclude with a prayer we said many times with them:
The Lord be with you:
Lord, make us instruments of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that we may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.