Make a Joyful Noise!

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! (Psalm 98:4)

“That’s not a sandwich. It’s a mattress!” I can still see the twinkle in my mom’s eyes as she charmingly responded, “Solo es un colchoncito” – “It’s only a little mattress,” and calmly poured the remaining bit of coffee into her mug. As a mother of 12 growing and rambunctious children, my mom had very few opportunities to luxuriate in self-indulgence. Still, we all new that she had a weakness for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches—a weakness the vast majority of us inherited. And so “el colchón” became the household term for this family treat.

Growing up in a huge family where friendships, disagreements, and daily games and entertainment germinated in the home, we unknowingly developed a common vocabulary and in-house culture. It was the place where we learned how to work together, how to compromise, how to share ideas, and how communicate disagreement. It wasn’t always easy or enjoyable—but it was always formative. My mom’s resourcefulness in making use of just about anything to create something we needed or wanted was something we all inherited in varying degrees. She could take bits of food to create a meal for an army or scraps of fabric to make a dress for our birthdays. A stick and a rag made an easy mop, and images of birds or flowers she’d see in a store window would later be seen embroidered on the sheets and pillow cases she would make as wedding gifts for my siblings.

Immediate family gatherings in our house were no small thing, as they included my parents, siblings, their spouses, and the grandchildren—all of which rounded off at 35-45 people on a low traffic day. With all the household responsibilities, her energy and will to serve never seemed to exhaust. I remember the night after a family gathering which she had spent all day preparing for and then cleaning up after. Even when some of us would try to help, she would usually send us out of the kitchen and ask us to watch over our nieces and nephews instead.

That night, after everyone had gone home except for the few grandchildren who would be staying for a few more days, we children were sitting on the living room couch. When mom came into the room and saw us she decided it was time to play a game. Reaching for one of the balloons that lay on the living room floor, she said, “This is perfect!” She smacked the balloon over to one of the children and said, “Send it to the next person before it hits the floor.” Everyone jumped to their feet, arms and hands flying toward the balloon. Loud laughter and joyful squeals filled the house. We played and played until, completely out of breath, someone said: “Grandma, it’s time to stop. I can’t breathe anymore.” With a twinkle in her eyes, mom said, “Well if you’re all tired out, I guess we should stop.”

The Season of Lent offers us Laetare Sunday—a day of rejoicing. We are meant for joy, and God invites us to embrace it in the everyday moments of our lives. How loving of God to remind us that we are destined to a deep, rich, and eternal rejoicing. Perhaps it was hearts like mom’s that the Psalmist refers to when he says, “make a joyful sound unto the Lord.” But this joyful sound does not come from the absence of responsibility or from having everything we need and want, nor from having the perfect children or home situation.

I can only smile as I think back on those days, still so close and tangible. My mom’s big brown eyes seemed to dance at times when she was caught in sheer delight watching children play and becoming entirely engaged. In the midst of life’s challenges, suffering, and disappointments, mom had a childlike capacity to dream and play, and to make a joyful sound unto the Lord.

Sister Ines, O.C.D.

To learn more about the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, read their biography below and visit their website.

We encourage you to support the work of the sisters with your prayers and through donations and planned giving. Click here to learn more..

If you hear God calling you to the religious life, I encourage you to visit their vocations page. – Deacon Mike

Or for more information, please contact:
Sister Elizabeth Therese, O.C.D., Vocation Directress
920 East Alhambra Road
Alhambra, California 91801

Please share on social media.

Print this entry

About the Author

Promoting a Deeper Spiritual Life Among Families through Healthcare, Education and Retreats

The Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles strive to give striking witness as a vibrant, thriving community of dedicated women with an all-consuming mission. It is our God-given mission, a mission of the heart, a mission of loving service to the poor, the sick, the needy and the uneducated. Our loving service overflows from each sister’s profound life of prayer. We strive to reflect His life and hope and His promise to all that light has come into our world and darkness has not overcome it.

A look at the history of our community, with its motherhouse in Alhambra, California, reveals how its life-giving presence has come about. During the beginning decades of the 1900s just as the epic Mexican revolution was subsiding, a ruthless religious persecution was gaining momentum in Mexico. This horrible persecution accompanied the birth and humble beginnings of our community, a legacy that Mother Luisita, our foundress, and her two companions brought with them as religious refugees entering the Unites States in 1927.

Those seeds planted by Mother Luisita, now a candidate for sainthood, have taken deep root in the United States since those early days. People and places have changed throughout the years, yet the heart of our mission remains. As an autonomous religious institute since 1983 we continue to carry out our loving service in our healthcare facilities, retreat houses and schools which remain to this day centers of life and hope. Today we are moving forward together “Educating for Life with the Mind and Heart of Christ” in schools, being “At the Service of the Family for Life” through health and eldercare and “Fostering a Deeper Spiritual Life” through individual and group retreats. At the heart of our vocation is a passionate mission of loving service which facilitates our life-giving encounter with the living God.

The heritage of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles is rooted in the spirituality of Carmel, the Gospels, the Church, with our particular charism derived from our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

In His merciful goodness, God has graced our Institute with the Carmelite charism which has its roots in a long history and living tradition. The spirituality of St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross is rooted in this tradition. Carmel means enclosed garden in which God Himself dwells. The divine indwelling in the soul is the foundation of Teresa's doctrine. Thus our vocation is a grace by which contemplation and action are blended to become an apostolic service to the Church.

Our ideal finds a living expression in the life and charism of our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament, whose spirit we faithfully preserve and foster.

Our life is characterized by: - A life of prayer and union with God - A deep love for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist - Devotion to our Blessed Mother - Steadfast fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church - Praying for priests - Commitment to works of the apostolate in ecclesial service

Author Archive Page