Ezra 3:12-13

But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy; so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard afar.

The return of Israel to Jerusalem, against all worldly odds, was one of the unsung wonders of the ancient world–except in Israel.  It goes completely unremarked in contemporary documents–except in Israel.  The ecstasy of the people over the restoration of their Temple was the stuff of fairy tales.  Their joy was like swords and their laughter like sun after rain–and for centuries nobody knew of it but them.  Real joys are often like that.  God communicates his life to us in intimate ways, not through bullhorns and public address systems.  Even the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was an intimate affair shared with only a few hundred people.  Life's like that.  The most important things that will ever happen to you are things the World At Large and historians will probably never notice: your wedding, you child's birth, your moments of quiet grace in prayer or at Mass.  Yet it is these which really change and make history.  The big buildings, politics, religious, and social movements are simply the headline-making results of these moments of hidden grace.

Mark Shea


Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

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