Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

The Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer OFM Conv. Column
Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., is the seventh Archbishop of Atlanta. In "Peace and All Good," he shares pastoral reflections.

God makes me laugh

By ARCHBISHOP GREGORY J. HARTMAYER, OFM Conv. | Published August 6, 2020  | En Español

St. Anthony of Padua makes me laugh every time I pray to him when I lose something. I laugh because he always finds it; no matter what it is and no matter where it is. He does not always show me where it is immediately, but he helps me find it eventually. I laugh as he shows me that what I lost was exactly where I left it.

Last month, I spent some relaxing time with three priest friends on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. I brought with me a couple of books, including “I Heard God Laugh” by Matthew Kelly. He is a popular Catholic author who appeals to many people. I find Kelly easy to read and practical in his spirituality.

This timely book captures well these last six months as we have been preoccupied, worried, with our prayer routines interrupted. Kelly’s book is about the habit of prayer. During these days of sickness, death, inconvenience, racism, violence, demonstrations and closed churches, some people are turning away from God rather than toward him. “Why should I pray”? The harder question however is “how should I pray?”

Kelly teaches it takes 21 days to establish a new habit in our lives, to sink its roots sufficiently so that the first strong breeze does not blow it away. He challenges the reader to spend just 10 minutes a day for 21 days using this method that tackles obstacles that keep us all from persevering in prayer.

The first step of his 7-Step Prayer Process is Gratitude: Begin by thanking God in a personal dialogue for whatever you are grateful for. Awareness: Revisit the times in the past 24 hours when you were not the best version of yourself. Talk to God about these situations. Significant Moments: Identify something you experienced today and explore what God might be trying to say to you through it. Peace: Ask God to forgive you for any wrong you have committed (against yourself, others, God) and to fill you with an abiding peace. Freedom: Speak with God about how he is inviting you to change your life, to experience true freedom. Others: Lift up to God anyone you feel called to pray for today, asking God to bless them. Finish: by praying the Our Father.

Kelly asks the question: “What does God’s laughter sound like?” He says, “it sounds like the smile of a newborn baby; … a bird flying high in the sky; … the anticipation of a first kiss; … a fresh start; … a long drink of cold water after a day in the scorching sun and the gentle touch of a mother as her child rests.”

Our laughter is a reflection of God’s laughter, made as we are in his image and likeness. Amid the challenges of our day, may we not forget to laugh knowing that the joy of the Gospel triumphs over all our losses and struggles. May St. Anthony intercede for us to find the time to pray each day as we never forget the love of God.