May 17, 2016 / 03:38 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- If you are a Christian, your life should not be a perpetual Lent – this was the message of the communications director for the Little Sisters of the Poor at a prayer breakfast on Tuesday.
“Don’t let anything rob you of the joy of the Gospel. Dare to be of good cheer,” Sister Constance Veit, LSP, said at the annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast May 17 in Washington, D.C.
An archbishop had counseled her with those words during the sisters’ ongoing HHS mandate case against the federal government, a case that was sent back to the circuit courts by the Supreme Court on Monday.
The National Catholic Prayer Breakfast has been held annually in Washington, D.C. since 2004, with an attendance of over 1,000. Catholic priests, bishops, religious, and lay leaders all gather to reflect and pray for the country.
Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, was the keynote speaker at the event. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Sister Constance also spoke.
The outgoing Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S. Carlo Maria Vigano was also in attendance. Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington offered the invocation and Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore said the closing benediction.
In her address, Sr. Constance discussed the importance of joy despite hardship. For several years, her community – which cares for the elderly poor in homes in the U.S. and across the globe – has been threatened by fines that could shut down their ministry if they do not agree to include contraception and similar products in their employer health care plan.
The sisters had been awaiting a ruling from the Supreme Court, and will now wait as the lower court deliberates and comes to a ruling in their case.
But despite the uncertainty surrounding their future, Sr. Constance said, the sisters find joy and peace in following Christ and serving those in need.
She noted that Pope Francis named his encyclical Evangelii Gaudium, or “The Joy of the Gospel,” and his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, “The Joy of Love.” In writing so much about “joy,” she said, “I think he is trying to tell us something.”
“I believe our contemporaries will listen to us only if we can show them by the way we live that the Gospel brings us lasting joy and happiness. Why follow it otherwise?” she said.
She also exhorted those in attendance to see Christ in all persons. This can only happen, she added, through having an “intimate encounter with God,” as Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est. …