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Happy belated Gaudete Sunday everyone! This is my favorite part of the Advent season. The candles (and the vestments) change from purple to rose, the Gospel charges us to "prepare the way for the Lord" in both the world and our hearts, and we hear a lot of homilies and talks about joy. It's a reminder of who we are awaiting during the Advent season!

"Gaudete" is, after all, the Latin word for rejoice. Now, I hear you. "How are we supposed to rejoice right now? Things are so tough!" I understand! This year has stunk in many ways. However, that does not preclude us from experiencing joy. Know where I'm going with this? If you've read my blog post about joy from a while back, I'll bet you do!

The easiest (and best) description of joy and its superiority over happiness is the "Perfect Joy" story of St. Francis. You know, the one where he describes joy as the ability to withstand the evils of the world and still take heart in the knowledge that you're a beloved child of God? Well, I already used that one, so I'd like to draw your attention to someone else today.

That someone is Paul the Apostle. I believe there's a strong case to be made for Paul as one of the 5 most influential people in the history of Catholicism. In case you're curious, my nominees for the other 4 are Jesus Christ, Peter, Thomas Aquinas, and Martin Luther (for dubious reasons, of course). But right, Paul. Stay on track here, Regis.

Paul's letters are just dripping with practical theology, and I'd like to focus on Philippians today. This letter is PERFECT for a Covid Gaudete Sunday. First, some historical background. Paul wrote this letter while imprisoned in Rome. Not only was he confined to a cell, he was also chained to a guard 24 hours a day.

Being a Roman prisoner was no walk in the park, even for a Citizen like Paul. Paul's day-to-day existence was, in essence, in limbo. He didn't know if his next day would bring release, execution, or simply further imprisonment. He was completely blind to what his future held. Sound familiar?