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The joy of many faces was a sign of holiness


So often, we get bogged down with negative emotions. I’m tired, I’m stressed, I’m anxious. I’m bored, I have too much going on, I don’t have enough going on. Rarely do we pause to celebrate the glorious life we are living. Do we ever stop to recognize the beauty in the mundane, the miracle in the everyday? Often, we don’t. Instead, we need a cause for celebration—a wedding, a birthday, a promotion. But this past Wednesday was a day for celebration—for the United States, for women, for life. And while some may say that the United States Women’s National Team danced and celebrated a little too big, I disagree. We are called to live a joyous life, and when we live filled with joy, we are praising, thanking, and glorifying our Creator.
 
Pope Francis writes in his encyclical Christus Vivit, “Dear young people, make the most of these years of your youth. …dream freely and make good decisions. …Make a ruckus! Cast out the fears that paralyze you, so that you don’t become young mummies. Live! Give yourselves over to the best of life!” Our Holy Father is encouraging each of us to celebrate, to take risks, to be joyful. I would argue, that when we live like that, we are living holy lives.
 
Annie, Samantha, and I—interns at RENEW International—were encouraged to attend the United States Women’s National Team’s ticker-tape parade in Lower Manhattan on Wednesday morning. We quickly agreed and figured out the logistics of it, while maintaining an attitude of thanksgiving and excitement for this opportunity. Throughout Wednesday morning, I was astounded by the moments that were filled with grace, or holiness—for example, when we made it into the city with no complications or over-crowded trains, and when we had time to grab some yummy coffees. Another such moment occurred when we found a great spot to watch from, with no one in front of us! A few minutes later, we met our neighbors, two young women who had traveled from Vermont to celebrate!
 
Soon, the crowd began to thicken, and we overheard stories of women who had played soccer their entire lives and young girls sharing which players were their favorites. We saw police officers selflessly and bravely protecting the people, acting with integrity. We witnessed sign after sign held by young and old, boys and girls, demanding equal pay for the soccer players they had watched diligently throughout the season. We had an easy and safe walk after the parade and caught trains that worked seamlessly and helped us make it back to the RENEW office on time.
 
But, most of all, there was holiness in the joy. There was holiness in the faces of the young girls who rode down Broadway on floats and looked out into the crowd with excitement, joy, and dreams. There was holiness as people in office buildings threw confetti from their windows, and others watched with awe as it fell beautifully. There was holiness when we saw the U.S. Women’s Team dance and laugh with joy, experiencing disbelief at the support. There was holiness when the young women next to us laughed with joy when they saw women in real life whom they have supported from afar. There was holiness everywhere.
 
Pope Francis also writes in Christus Vivit that when St. John Bosco taught St. Dominic Savio that “holiness involves being constantly joyful, he (St. Dominic) opened his heart to a contagious joy. …Dominic died in 1857 at fourteen years of age, saying: ‘What a wondrous thing I am experiencing!’” Indeed, while standing on the streets of New York City, laughing and cheering amongst new friends and strangers, I paused to think, “What a wonderful thing I am experiencing.”
 
Jessica Guerriero, at left in photo above, will be a junior Catholic Studies major at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas this fall. Jessie was born and raised in Ohio, but enjoys travelling and adventuring across the country and the world. “I love learning about social justice, women in the Church, and the Holy Cross Tradition,” she says, “and I am so grateful for my time spent here at RENEW this summer.”

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