Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Greater than

Why do the founding principles of our country cause some people to cheer wildly and others to scoff? What is wrong with inalienable rights? What’s wrong with rights that can’t be taken away? Frankly, I’m a big fan of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Perhaps the problem isn’t so much the inalienable rights as the fact that some believe these rights come from a Creator. You already know I’m a big fan of the Creator. But, I still struggle to understand why some people are so contemptuous of those of us who believe in God and cling to our inalienable rights.

While some argue that the problem in our country is hateful rhetoric, I argue that is due to different moral compasses. There is the camp that believes natural law is from God and these are the same people that are fans of the founding principles of the United States. Then there is the camp that follows any number of -isms, but predominantly relativism. Relativism is the notion that there are no absolutes, except that the individual is the final arbiter of truth. Some will argue that it is ludicrous to expect every American to live by a similar moral code. I humbly disagree. The country was established by people who were very different and yet still managed to find common ground without sacrificing their ideals or souls. Relativism is changeable while natural law is unchanging.

Morality can ground both a person and a country or can send both into chaos. The question is: am I going to follow the changeable morality of a person or am I going to strive for something greater? There is a famous quote that helps to illustrate this idea: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” If I follow my own relativistic morality, then I’m not even shooting for the moon.  I’m just hobbling along with all the others following relativism. If I follow natural law, then I am aiming at something higher than myself. If I follow the teachings of the Catholic Church, then I won’t land on the moon, but I’ll land in Heaven.

The final question is: who is greater? Me or God. If I’m greater, then division will remain because that means I’m greater than you are. If God is greater, then we have a common vision.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

St. Augustine

St. Augustine shares the top spot on my Top 10 Saints with St. Vincent de Paul. These two saints have impacted me the deepest (after Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary, of course). St. Vincent's life taught me how to live the Christian life in practical terms, but it is St. Augustine who taught me about the Trinity.

I was in college when I first read one of St. Augustine's most famous quotes: "You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you." (Confessions, Book 1). "Wow!" I thought, "That one line says it all." I sat at in my dorm room and contemplated that one line for a long time. The world is full of restless people - they are all around us - and it's hard to convince restless people to resign to God; it seems antithetical. St. Augustine knew what it felt like to be restless. He wasn't born a saint, just like the rest of us, but he grew into being a saint. He looked for peace in so many arenas, but they all left him empty. Finally, he picked up a Bible and his life was changed.

During my second year in grad school I had a semester long class on the Doctrine of the Trinity and it changed my life. I think I drove most of my other classmates crazy because I LOVED this class; this class brought me to tears! It is impossible to study the Trinity without reading Augustine. The easiest way to encapsulate what Augustine taught me is: relationship and love. The Persons of the Trinity are in relationship with one another and it is perfect love that binds them. This is our example for life.

St. Augustine, pray for us that we may love the Mystery of the Trinity as you do.

Monday, August 27, 2012

St. Monica

If I had to create a Top 10 List of Favorite Saints, then St. Monica would make that list.

Who, you ask, was St. Monica? She was the mother of St. Augustine, the theological powerhouse of the early Church. However, before Augustine jumped on the Jesus Train, he was one lost soul. St. Monica was a Christian but had an arranged marriage to a pagan, Patricius. Life for women in the 4th century was not kind and Patricius was not a good husband. Monica bore her struggles with patience, love, humility, and prayer. She is the quintessential example of the good Christian wife and mother.

Augustine was a wild child and explored philosophies and non-Christian religions before he finally met Christ in the Word. Through it all she prayed and prayed and prayed for her son. If you want to know more about St. Monica, there's a great biography on her by Giovanni Falbo, St. Monica: The Power of a Mother's Love. Falbo doesn't simply rely on "folklore" to share the story of Monica, he uses Augustine's own words about his mother. I highly recommend this book if you want to know more about Church history, Monica, and Augustine.

St. Monica serves as a reminder that prayers sometimes take years before they are answered. Also, even the most difficult situations with children can find a happy ending in Christ.

St. Monica, pray for us.

Friday, August 24, 2012

...or for worse...

Under normal circumstances this week is a pretty hard week for my husband and I. Tomorrow will mark the 4 year anniversary of the stillbirth of our daughter. I can't believe it has been 4 years because back then I wasn't sure how I was going to survive the week, never mind a year. This year, we had another trauma: I had a miscarriage this week. I was about 8 weeks and was getting ready to announce to family and friends and the blogosphere. Last week I had the first ultrasound and things weren't quite right with little Button (that's what we called the baby).  The doctor said not to worry, so I tried not to, but by Monday afternoon the miscarriage started.

My reason for writing about this is to highlight the importance of a strong marriage. When I worked as a youth minister, kids would ask me about my husband, how we met, and marriage. The teenage girls wanted to hear the romantic stuff and the teenage boys...well, they rarely asked about that stuff so I shared with them anyway. I emphasized two things. First, Love is an action verb; it's not a feeling. Everyday you have to choose to love, choose to act out of love. Second, marriage is a covenant between husband, wife, and God. I have always thought of it as God surrounding us and filling in the gaps between us.

A professor from college once talked about marriage and love on a personal level - not just theologically. She said, "Sometimes you wake up in the morning and you choose to love your spouse because he is the father of your children. That's the only reason you can find to love him because all of his other qualities and characteristics are driving you crazy that week." This was the first time I had heard anyone talk about love and marriage this way; it sounded real. She wasn't speaking negatively of her husband and she also wasn't idealizing marriage. To my ears it sounded pretty harsh, but I stored it away.

My husband is the best guy in the world: he gets me and is willing to put up with me. God bless him!  I love him very much, but my professor was right.  Sometimes, it is hard to love - like when the clothes are on the floor and the dirty dishes are in the sink and every other thing is annoying me. However, that annoyance is really my own selfishness and so I will myself to love. I knew before we got married, in the depths of my soul, that we could make it through anything. It wasn't some kind of sentimental, lovely-dovey crap, like "we can slay dragons together".  I knew that we could tackle any question, any problem. Seven years ago, as I planned our wedding, little did I know the "for worse" that was awaiting us. Today, as we prepare to pass another year without our oldest and mourn Baby Button, I know we will make it through this. Even in our "for worse" moments we still choose to love and God is allowed to fill the space between us.

Monday, August 20, 2012

It's not what you do...

You can't earn your way into Heaven, no matter how you try. Only Christ can get us through the Pearly Gates. In today's Gospel, a young man approaches Jesus and asks what good he must do in order to attain eternal life. Jesus turns it around and says there is only One good and that's God. He then tells him to follow the Commandments. The young man says, "Yup, done that." Jesus cranks it up a notch and tells him to go sell all he has, give the money to the poor, and follow Jesus. "Oh..." says the young man. He leaves Jesus sad because he had many possessions.

It's not what you do, but how you live. The young man wanted to buy his way into Heaven by doing something "good", but Jesus knew he was a prisoner to his possessions. Jesus isn't saying that the rich can't get into Heaven. St. Paul often thanked the people who bankrolled his ministry. These people
happily parted with their wealth/possessions in order to further the Kingdom. The same is true today. Ministry costs money and the Church needs generous benefactors to help pay for the Mission.

Jesus' challenge to the young man is about his priorities. Anything you put before Christ will keep you out of Heaven. Obviously, this young man loved his possessions more than he loved God. Do I put anything before God? Spouse, friends, kids, possessions, prestige, etc?  Anytime anything comes before God, I am blocking my way to Heaven. And, I'm going to push the idea a little further...

Say I've got God at the top of your list, but I've not aligned my priorities properly, then, I've got a problem. For instance, I'm married and have a child, therefore my husband and son come first (after I take care of my basic needs: mental, physical, and emotional health). But, let's say that I put serving at church ahead of taking care of my son and husband - like all my waking hours are spent at church. And, I mean all my waking hours, not just a short term crazy period to help with a fundraiser or dinner dance. When I neglect my first vocation of wife and mother, then I am blocking my way to Heaven.

It's not what you do or what you give, but how you live and order your life.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

It's a Promise

Ahhh...Catholic gotta love it. No, really, you do...the Church says you should love it. Today is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. For many Catholics today might be a case of, "who cares?" and for many Protestants this might be a day to say, "You're at it again with the whole Mary thing!" Today's feast is a promise to all the Christian faithful that our souls will be rejoined to our resurrected (not reanimated) bodies and we will worship God forever. That's one heck of a promise!

I love Our Lady! Her role is to lead us to her Son. You ask her to pray for you and she is all over it. She is the first and best disciple and our best example of how to love Christ. While she was born without Original Sin, that doesn't mean that she couldn't sin. Adam and Eve were created without Original Sin and we know how awesome they were in the not sinning department. Mary could have sinned, but she chose not to sin.

Think of all the times you could choose to not sin, but do it anyway. It makes me shudder!  Now, think about the times when you're trying to break a sinful habit and how strong the temptation is to sin. Imagine what it was like for Mary. She must have been bombarded with temptations we can't imagine, but she said 'no' every time and that only made her soul stronger. She never abandoned her Son and reading John's account of the Wedding Feast at Cana, Mary encouraged Jesus to embrace his mission. She followed him on the Way of the Cross and stood at the Foot of the Cross. She became the mother of the apostles and kept them together after the death of Christ.

From the very early Church, Mary has been honored for her role as the Mother of God and for her faith.  There is historical evidence of this feast day being celebrated in the 5th century. Tradition states that Mary died about 11 years after the Crucifixion, surrounded by the apostles (except Thomas) and was placed in a tomb. When Thomas arrived he asked to view Mary's body and it was not in the tomb. The belief began to spread in the early Church that the Risen Lord did not want his sinless mother to suffer the effects of death (i.e. lying in a grave). Mary was "assumed" into Heaven, body and soul.

It is highly unlikely that I will be spared the indignities of death and I will undoubtedly have to spend some time in Purgatory, because let's face it, I'm not Mary. However, I will make it to Heaven in my resurrected body where I'll get to worship God forever. I will also get to say to the Blessed Mother, "Thank you for being our example and promise."

Monday, August 13, 2012

Filled with YOUR Glory

Heaven and earth are filled with your glory. Psalm response, Ps 148

Open up the Bible and you get God's opinion on Creation and Humankind. Creation = good. Humankind = very good. Sure, humankind screwed things up a bit, but we are still very good, so good, in fact, that God came to be one of us. And, God did the whole trip...from conception to death. He didn't just pop into some body or magically appear on the scene. Oh no, God took on the flesh, the hormones, the joy, and the pain. God becoming one of us elevates our human potential because God has glorified it...

And then you settle into your everyday life and read the newspaper or watch TV it's hard to remember that the earth is filled with God's glory. Stories of murder, rape, aggression, personal goes on and on. Earth seems to be filled with ugliness, not glory. That is the trick of Satan.

Satan wants us to fall for one of two lies: a.) I am so awesome that I don't need God. b.) the world is a big bowl of crap. Satan doesn't care which lie you pick, he can work with either one. It's very easy to get sucked into one of these two traps. Here's the key for getting out: by simply saying the name of Jesus Christ (you have to say it out loud), the evil dude has to get packing. And, there's nothing like a heartfelt "Hallelujah!" to lift the spirits.

It's not my intention to make light of the evil in the world. Christians are to stand up in the face of evil and say NO! But, I need to guard myself so that evil does not to take possession of me so that I can't act.

Enjoy Psalm 148 and let your HALLELUJAH drive the Devil away!

Praise the LORD from the heavens;
praise him in the heights.
Praise him, all you his angels;
give praise, all you his hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all shining stars.
Praise him, highest heavens,
you waters above the heavens.
Let them all praise the LORD’s name;
for he commanded and they were created,
Assigned them their station forever,
set an order that will never change.
Praise the LORD from the earth,
you sea monsters and all the deeps of the sea;
Lightning and hail, snow and thick clouds,
storm wind that fulfills his command;
Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars;
Animals wild and tame,
creatures that crawl and birds that fly;
Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all who govern on earth;
Young men and women too,
old and young alike.
Let them all praise the LORD’s name,
for his name alone is exalted,
His majesty above earth and heaven.
He has lifted high the horn of his people;
to the praise of all his faithful,
the Israelites, the people near to him.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Find your greatness

Nike has a new advertising campaign "find your greatness". The Olympics is the perfect place to highlight this message, but it hasn't only been about star athletes. There is a commercial with an overweight boy running down the street. The announcer tells us that we are all capable of greatness. Greatness is not something to be attained by prodigies alone. I love it!

I've thought about this campaign a lot in recent days (and as my cousin in advertising would tell me, that's a successful campaign). Of course, the theology geek in me started thinking about greatness. Greatness in Catholic Christian terms means holiness. When you see the world through the lens of Jesus Christ crucified and risen, greatness isn't necessarily about winning medal, although sometimes it is a way to glorify God.  There have been some stunning displays of faith during the London Games.

Finding my greatness means to grow in the virtues of justice, wisdom, courage, moderation, faith, hope, and love. Unlike the Nike promotion, though, there is a communal element to the quest for greatness and my first responsibilities lie with my husband and son. I am supposed to help them to grow in holiness.  The purpose of marriage is for mutual holiness.  It is my responsibility to get my husband to Heaven, and, God help him, it's his job to get me there.  As a mom, I am my son's first teacher of the faith.  I am also to help him find the greatness that the Nike commercial talks about; I am to help him define the gifts with which God has blessed him.

Christ has promised each of us greatness and the Communion of Saints stands by as the thundering crowd praying us along as we "fight the good fight, finish the race, keep the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7).  Go out and find your greatness!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Too little?

Today's Gospel reading from Matthew 17:14-20 is one of the enigmatic sayings of Jesus.

The disciples were trying to drive a demon out of a young man and failed. The father of the young man knelt before Jesus and asked for his help. Jesus heals the man's son. Then, the disciples asked why they failed and this is what Jesus said:

"Because of your little faith.
Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you will say to this mountain,
"Move from here to there," and it will move.
Nothing will be impossible for you."

It reminds me of the scene in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back when Luke Skywalker tries to move his X-wing fighter out of the muck and is unsuccessful and then Yoda is able to do it!  Or, another movie reference, in The Matrix when Neo tells Morpheus that he is too fast.  Morpheus responds, "Do you believe that my being stronger or faster has anything to do with my muscles in this place?"  Yoda and Morpheus have the faith and each believes in his student.

While in these two movies only "special" people can become Jedis or be The One, Jesus tells us that anyone can move a mountain. All you need is faith as small as a mustard seed. Now the question becomes, did Jesus mean a literal mountain or is he talking about spiritual mountains, like the disciples expelling the demon?

I know there have been times when I'm praying for something and my faith crumples a little because the situation seems too hard. It sounds something like this, "Dear God, please take care of 'X'...who am I kidding..." Rather than allowing the Lord to do something, I basically shut God out of the equation before I even give Him a shot.

Next time I think something is too big for God, I need to remember that my faith is too small and then pray my heart out.

Friday, August 10, 2012

He said what?

Today is the Feast of St. Lawrence of Rome - he's the patron saint of comedians.

Lawrence lived in third century Rome and was a deacon. In 258 Emperor Valerian thought the Christians had stashed away a significant treasure and he decided to persecute said treasure out of them. Valerian told Lawrence to bring the Church's treasure to him. Lawrence promised to bring it to him in three days. Lawrence showed up with the poor and sick of Rome declaring they were the treasure of the Church. Let's just say that Valerian wasn't happy and essentially condemned Lawrence to the barbecue. Lawrence was laid on a grill and slowly burned to death. He told the executioner, "I'm done on this side, turn me over." And just before he died he said, "It's cooked enough now." It's horrible and comic and fortifying all at the same time.

St. Tertullian said, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church."  In modern conversation a martyr is someone who whines a lot in order to gain sympathy.  Yikes!  That's a serious "redefinition" for someone who died so as not to renounce her faith.  However, there may need to be a newer definition for martyr: someone whose reputation/business/life is destroyed by the media because he or she refuses to kowtow to secularism.  There are powerful people, modern Valerians, who can make or break someone with a comment or a "sound bite".

Being a faithful and practicing Christian (of whatever stripe) is akin to being a nut these days.  Public persecutions with barbecues are not currently in vogue, but ripping a Christian to proverbial shreds is perfectly acceptable.  As Christ said in today's Gospel (John 12:24-26): 

"Amen, amen, I say to you, 
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Whoever loves his life loses it,
and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life."

Being a Christian means we have to put it all on the line for Christ.  What are you willing to say for Christ?  What are you willing to give up?  

St. Lawrence, pray for us.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Persistence and Humility

If someone compared me to a dog, then humility would not be my first response. I'd probably yell or insult or try for a roundhouse kick to the head. However, humility is the response of the Canaanite woman in today's Gospel.

Jesus is walking through an area with his disciples and a woman follows them asking for help for her demon "tormented" daughter. Jesus ignores her, the disciples ask Jesus to tell her to leave and she keeps after them. Jesus finally tells her that he didn't come to save her. She worships him and asks for help again. Jesus says that it's not right to give food meant for children to dogs. OUCH! She doesn't slink away or get angry; she simply says that the dogs are allowed to eat the children's scraps. Jesus is impressed by her faith and her daughter is healed.

I've heard some suggest that this woman talked Jesus into recognizing others who needed to be included into the Kingdom.  I don't buy that.  Each time Jesus heals someone there is a lesson to be learned.  Today's lesson: prayer requires persistence and humility.  Jesus doesn't respond right away because he wants to see what she will do.  The Canaanite woman handles the situation with what we would call grace.  She makes her request and continues to repeat her request by acknowledging her smallness compared to Jesus' greatness.  I don't think I would be able to do that after being compared to a dog!

We live in a time of instant everything and I usually expect God to act according to my timeline.  Prayer gives me what I need, not always what I want.  If I can be persistent and humble in prayer, then hopefully I can transition these virtues into my life, even if my prayer is not answered.

And, a Happy Feast Day of St. Dominic to all my Dominican friends!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Parenting on Water

Have you ever walked on water? Yeah, me neither...well, wait a minute, maybe I have.

Today's Gospel reading is from Matthew 14:22:36. It's the famous story of Jesus walking on the water during a storm and calling Peter out of the boat to walk with him. While I want to be harsh with Peter and say to him, "Duh, it's Jesus, why are you sinking?" I have the benefit of knowing how the Gospels end - Jesus wins. Sure, Peter was friends with Jesus, but all the pieces didn't fall into place until after the Resurrection.

As I read the Gospel this morning the usual thoughts ran through my head: would I get out of a boat if Jesus called me?; when will Peter figure out that Jesus is legit?; what exactly freightened Peter?.  But then I thought of something I said to a couple of friends last night.  They read yesterday's blog and we had a laugh over how crazy being a parent can be.  I said, "When we got home from the hospital with our son I couldn't believe it.  They just let us leave with him.  What the heck did I know about being a mom?"  

Suddenly, I had a new appreciation for this reading and for Peter.  Being a parent, heck living life, is a lot like walking on water with Jesus.  Some days I'm cocky and fantastic thinking, "Oh yeah, I've got this Mommy-thing down."  Other days I am treading water and praying I don't drown.  

I applied my questions for Peter to myself.  I didn't realize that being a parent meant that I had to get out of the boat, but Jesus called me to it so here I am.  Jesus is never going to let me drown...and when will I figure that out?  There have been a myriad of things that have scared me and caused me to tread water.  On the days I miss the mark on being like Jesus, then being like St. Peter isn't too bad.  

Monday, August 6, 2012

Time for a Cuppa

Sheesh! It's been a busy day...up early, have a little prayer and journaling time, get the boy up, make oatmeal and smoothies, get dressed for the YMCA, chase the boy around, try to get boy on potty, get very silly, squirmy boy dressed, explain how big boy underpants work, get in car, arrive at Y, drop boy off at child care, exercise, pick up boy from child care, try to get very silly, squirmy boy to walk, change clothes, drive to the doctor, run boy to potty, wait for doctor to come into the little room, doctor examines now scared boy, leave doctor, run boy to potty, celebrate dry pants, threaten silly boy to NOT open the washroom stall door while Mommy is going potty, leave doctor's office, take unintended stop in parking lot to change boy's clothes because he peed, drive home, heat up lunch, eat lunch while boy silly boy runs around, feed boy, play with boy, plead with boy to go potty before nap time, put very, very silly and tired boy in bed for nap, tidy up, take shower, little boy calling "Mommy, I went poo-poo", change stinky diaper, return exceptionally silly boy to bed, sit down to blog...dang it, I haven't even had a cup of tea today!

This is what life is like for everyone. There are a ton of things to get done in a day and there is little time to sit back and relax.

Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration. After Jesus is transfigured - and only Peter, James and John, know what that looks like - Peter wanted to stay there on top of the mountain. We don't know if Jesus responded to Peter's request to erect tents, we are told that a cloud overshadowed them and they heard a voice say, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him."  Next, Peter, James, John, and Jesus are making their way back down the mountain.

"Mountain top" experiences with God are wonderful and usually short.  For as much as we want to stay there and re-live the moment again and again, the world isn't saved on top of mountains, though.  It is made holy in the small, day-to-day things like potty training, cooking oatmeal, going to the doctor, keeping my cool when my 2 year old is silly, silly, silly.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I'd like to be a pretty vase

Today's first reading is from Jeremiah 18:1-6. The LORD tells Jeremiah to go down to the potter's house and watch him form clay on a wheel. If you suddenly have flashbacks to that scene from Ghost, I don't want to know about it.

I had a pottery class in high school and clay can be a difficult medium. You can put all the time and care into creating an object and it might crack in the firing, then you have to break the pot, wet it down and mix it with new clay. When working on a wheel if the clay gets off center, even a tiny bit, you're pretty much out of luck and will need to start over.

In today's reading God is comparing us to the clay and He is the potter. Potters have the skill to create a beautiful vase, but clay has a mind of its own. God knows what it would take for me to be my best possible self, but if I'm not willing to work on my faults or allow God to guide me, then I'll just remain as I am. Yet, if I allow The Potter to mold me, then I can become a saint.

If you've ever watched a potter at a wheel, then you know that sometimes he makes small changes: take a little clay away, add some water, etc. Then there are the times when the clay completely collapses and the potter has to start over. There is something heartbreaking and scary about that wonky wobble of the clay, followed by folding into a heap. What once seemed to have a life of its own, lies wrinkled and still on the wheel. It's a great analogy for how grave sin or accidents of nature can break us down.

Regardless of what causes the collapse, God doesn't sit back and say, "Save yourself." The LORD centers the clay again and starts the wheel.  It can never be said enough, but God likes perfection; He does not simply create us and then let us go on our merry way. It's not like I only get one chance with God or if I mess up three times, then I'm out.  Every moment of every day God is willing and waiting to mold me, form me. Through prayer and discipline, conforming to God's loving hand, I can be the person God made me to be.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Modern Parable

A Modern Take on Parables

The Kingdom of heaven is like a rare pair of Jimmy Choo's (those are designer shoes) on Ebay which a woman goes and and happily sells all that she has in order to win the auction.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a deluxe house in the suburbs that a couple joyfully sells all that they own to attain it.  

If Jesus were walking around telling parables today, I don't think he'd be sharing my modern parables for several reasons.  1.) Who would sell all that they own to buy shoes?  2.) Too many people have found themselves underwater with their homes so I think my second example is unlikely to happen.  3.) Would either of these items, shoes or a house, really bring true joy?  4.) And finally, while the house and shoes might be useful for a while, they will both start to break down or need repairs.  

Today's Gospel reading from Matthew 13:44-46 is about treasure that lasts.  Jesus says that the merchant and the buyer of the field joyfully sell off everything they own in order to attain the treasure.  There is something to this Kingdom of heaven because it makes people do seemingly crazy things.  

Karl Marx said "religion is the opiate of the masses."  In reality, materialism is the opiate that distracts us from pain and emptiness.  Yet, emptying myself of stuff and filling up with the Kingdom of heaven brings joy and peace.  What wouldn't you give or sell in order to have joy and peace?