by Father Joshua Janko, Ch, Capt, USAF
Dear friends, my name is Fr. Joshua Janko. I am a Catholic Chaplain serving at the United States Air Force Academy. I hope and pray your Advent has been going well as we pause this weekend with the special theme of joy – gaudium. We are nearing the conclusion of the Season of Advent with Gaudete Sunday. Advent is the preparatory season on our Church calendar that helps to prepare us for the celebration of Christmas. Christmas is our annual celebration when we recall Christ’s first coming into the world to fulfill the vocation of Savior.
With all this in mind, the theme of joy is very important in our lives especially each year at this time. In our crazy world, joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit that we can pray for more of to help us especially when challenges come our way. I know in my time on active duty, I had moments of challenge and desolation in my first assignment at Yokota Air Base, Japan. I was missing my family, my friends, my home diocese, and uncomfortable living in a foreign country. My first assignment stretched me and caused me to seek our God out even more and ask Him for more joy in the midst of some darkness I was experiencing at the time. As a chaplain, I was called upon more than once to listen as people poured out their own struggles, worries, and fears to me. I could certainly relate to some of what was shared. I am happy to report that it was the joy of the Lord that sustained me especially in participating in daily and weekend Masses, time in prayer, and gathering with members of my base community for fellowship.
Friends, whatever challenges that we face, we always have a choice to have joy in the midst of the darkness that we might encounter. I will leave you all with this weekend’s Second Reading from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Philippians. Please know of my prayers for all of you in this Season of Advent and coming up in Christmas. “Brothers and sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:4-7)
Father Janko is an active-duty Air Force Chaplain currently serving cadets at the US Air Force Academy, Colorado.