As our Church begins a new liturgical year, our community is concluding a Year of Kindness and reflecting on the impact a year of kindness events during 2017 had on ourselves, each other and our community. I made a personal choice to choose kindness and it has made a difference. On a recent hike out to the Boy Scout camp I was reminded of my commitment. Along the trail there are markers with the Boy Scout Law. #6 of Boy Scout Law is ‘A Scout is Kind’. “A Scout knows there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated”. Also, the Boy Scout slogan is, Do a Good Turn Daily!

There are about forty verses on kindness found in scripture. In Colossian 3:12 we read, “put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…” Our saints also were very mindful of the Joy of the Gospel and showed us practical ways to practice joy and kindness in our daily lives. Mother Teresa states, “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”

Pope Francis’ Letter, Evangelli Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel, was proclaimed in 2013 at the conclusion of the Year of Faith. This past summer the U.S. Bishops and Diocesan leaders met in Orlando, Florida for a Convocation, The Joy of the Gospel in America, to reflect and discuss ways to implement this apostolic exhortation in our country, our dioceses and our own lives. There are links for the keynote presentations of the convocation here: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/get-involved/meetings-and-events/convocation-2017/convocation-2017-live-stream.cfm.

The Diocese of Broken Bay, Australia published a pastoral letter that includes a list of Fifty ways to Live the Joy of the Gospel.
#2 on the list is, “Start and end each day with a prayer of praise.”
#27 is, “Increase the ‘joy’ level at home. Be quick to praise and slow to criticize. Choose to be enthusiastic when you least feel like it.”
#35 is, “This week, greet others with stronger handshakes, warmer hugs, more welcoming words.” You can find their complete list here: https://www.dbb.org.au/_uploads/_ckpg/files/The%20Joy%20of%20the%20Gospel%20(6).pdf.

Since October, Chancery staff, including three of our diocesan delegates who attended the convocation, have been meeting for fifteen minutes each work day to pray, read and reflect on a couple of paragraphs of The Joy of the Gospel. You can read the Pope Francis’ first Apostolic Exhortation online for free or the National Shrine of St. Therese has hard copies available for $3.00 and purchasing information and a study guide is provided on the Diocese website at: http://dioceseofjuneau.org/the-joy-of-the-gospel/.

As we prepare for Christmas and Easter this liturgical year, the Southeast Alaska Catholic Conference Planning Committee would like to suggest that as you prepare for the conference you read, reflect, and pray with, The Joy of the Gospel, either by yourself or in a small parish group or with your family. Planning is already in process for the 2018 Southeast Alaska Catholic Conference: Living and Sharing the Joy of the Gospel, September 28, 29, & 30, 2018. More details on the Conference will be coming in future issues of the Southeast Alaska Catholic. Remember, be kind and spread the joy of the Gospel!

Peggy Mattson
Co-chair of the Planning Committee