Being the founder and facilitator of an on-line network of intercessory pray-ers has had an unexpected perk – outside of the privilege of praying for others. The payer network, and the daily requests of those who carry the cross of Christ, has the unique ability to keep me grounded in gratitude, encouraging me to refresh the happiness page of life when I allow the ordinary challenges of being human to become extraordinary problems draining me of joy.
In any given day I may receive requests to pray for families whose children are suffering with cancer, or who have lost an infant or toddler to illness or accidents. Others may be grieving for loved ones who are missing, or who have committed suicide. Vibrant, healthy people are struck down in the prime of life by freak accidents or debilitating illness, while others have lost their jobs, their life savings and their homes, perhaps living in a shelter or relying on the generosity of family or friends.
Then there are those families who are struck again and again with one tragedy after another. For them, especially, my heart breaks. At the same time, I am humbled by their continued strength and perseverance, something I have often lost in less trying times.
I have one such friend who will always be an inspiration to me. In the space of two months she lost her husband, her mom and dad, and her brother. As I watched her move from one funeral Mass to the next, and in the months following, I marveled at her ability to carry on – and to smile whenever I saw her. I asked her how she was handling so much and she simply said, “If I didn’t have my faith, I wouldn’t have anything.”
Famed English poet and playwright, John Dryden once wrote, “We first make our habits, then our habits make us.” It seems my friend’s faith has enabled her to make a habit of happiness, and that's the kind of habit that's worth cultivating.