April 5, 2019

Sunday’s Gospel is the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). What did the woman think of Jesus? Fr. Colin Davis, Parochial Vicar at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception wrote for us a reflection on this gospel and the choice we have to be grateful.

The story of Jesus' demonstration of unconditional love to the woman caught in adultery is timeless and beautiful. Had you ever considered that it is possible, in fact, that the woman did not experience gratitude?

Don't you know people who seem to have everything going for them and they're depressed? There's countless Christians who pray frequently and receive the Sacraments and are still bitter people.

And have you ever met a person who comes from the most difficult background and is full of light and joy?

That's because the grace and blessings Our Lord is continually pouring out on us cannot either be perceived nor received without the proper "dispositions" - that is, without the right habits of soul.

Even more than that, contrary to popular belief, feelings, emotions, and sentiments CAN be cultivated, so that emotions like peace, joy, patience and gratitude become more and more pervasive.

It is true that emotions happen to you. But they can also be produced deliberately by you, and then turned into good habits. Gratitude can become an emotion you feel more frequently, almost all the time, if you practice at it.

HOW??

Glad you asked. There are 8 things you can do to produce emotion in yourself:

  1. Move your body, breathe better, and change your posture (back, shoulders, head, facial expression) in accord with desired emotion - smile and it actually causes the "happy" parts of your brain to light up.

  2. Choose which thoughts and ideas to focus on - all the small things that are great in this situation or all the terrible things and imagined bad intentions of people around me.

  3. Choose from the many possible larger meanings for your life when events happen and stick with the one that fits best with the goodness of God our Good Father. For example, I get sick and that means that I miss out OR that God has better things in store and it's an opportunity for a little rest.

  4. Create an "image-trigger" (like imagining the Holy Spirit in a cloud descending on you) and deliberately feel an emotion like gratitude, associating the image with that emotion.

  5. Do a mental, image-driven exercise like Ignatian Contemplation of a Gospel like this Sunday's, or going through old happy memories and thanking God, or thinking of hopeful future things and thanking God that they will happen.

  6. Reinforce your willed belief in the goodness of God by repeating hopeful verses from Scripture with feeling and conviction. these are great resources: Joy- Open Bible, Promises of God- Open Bible.

  7. Do some problem-solving and come up with a plan of action to solve the problem that is bothering you (just be sure to dwell more on the solution and the feeling of hope than you dwell on the problem).

  8. Make sure you get enough sleep and nutrition - but don't eat just to feel better, only eat after you've tried these other ways to feel better.

Give these a try. You'll be grateful you did.

-Fr. Colin Davis