Have you ever seen someone who is filled with joy? Almost regardless of substance or circumstance, he or she is always smiling. Always laughing. And always loving.

Our world just lost someone like that, my Aunt Lou, my Dad’s younger sister of two years. Dedicated wife of more than 55 years and mother of 6, I had a front row view of Aunt Lou’s life in that my family lived right up the street from hers’ for almost 10 years. Once we moved, we still remained very close, given the friendship among my Mom, Dad, Aunt and Uncle (Pete who passed 3 years ago), and the closeness of us kids, several of whom my brothers and I went to school with and call close friends today.

When someone passes away, it’s often the case where you remember the past through rose colored glasses, only seeing the good and negating the bad. Although I know Aunt Lou had faults (we all do), my recollection is mostly just the positive.

Having been to their house literally hundreds (if not thousands) of times, I can remember her sitting at the kitchen table or up at their pool, typically with a cigarette in her mouth,always smiling, joking, laughing, and lovingAunt Lou lived a life of joy.

Joy Isn’t Happiness or Pleasure

I’ve written about joy in my book and my blogs, how it is different from pleasure or happiness. Joy is independent of substance or circumstanceJoy comes from who we are, not what we experienceJoy comes from being in relationship with our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Aunt Lou lived a life of joy because Aunt Lou knew Jesus!!!

Although I’ve prayed with Aunt Lou and attended plenty of Masses with her, including weddings and funerals, I regrettably never talked to her much about our faith. That said, I know that she was deeply committed to that faith and the Church by her actions:

  • One of Aunt Lou’s daughters-in-law, who came into the Catholic Church after marrying my cousin, talks of my Aunt’s example as a Catholic and Disciple. She points to her witness, among others, as to the reason for her conversion.
  • Aunt Lou’s endless work for the St. Paul of the Cross Retreat Center over the years, in addition to the pro-life movement in Pittsburgh.
  • Her regular attendance at Mass and Church events
  • Her friendship with so many who chose religious life, including Priests
  • Her joy, her joy, her joy

Only One Way to Know True Joy

Here’s what I know to be very trueWe can’t live lives of joy, independent of substance and circumstance, unless we:

  1. Understand who we are as children of God, loved unconditionally, made with special gifts and for a purpose…made for Greatness
  2. Live in a place of Gratitude, knowing that All happens for a reason…for our good and the glory of God

Simple to state, but not easy to achieve….my Aunt Lou had this figured out. She knew the love of Christ. She knew that life isn’t about self, but servingShe knew love and she gave love. Aunt Lou was love….full of JOY!!! May she rest in peace.

Aunt Lou, thank you for your witness. We’ll miss you.

If you have an “Aunt Lou” in your life, please share with me…or any other comments you may have at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com.

May God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

Mark Joseph