Posted tagged ‘joy’

In Pursuit of Joy

April 9, 2017


A friend was recently prompted to pursue joy,
to be intentional about becoming more joyful.

These came to mind as being particularly helpful…

An aspiration to pray often
(memory aid: pray it when you pass by something you see often,
such as a picture of Jesus):

My God, I rejoice that You are infinitely happy.
~St. Alphonsus de Liguori

(I add, “and that You have loved me into being
that I may share in Your infinite happiness”)

Quotes for reflection:

Do not be saddened this day,
for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength.
-Nehemiah 8:10

This next one is my mainstay–there’s so much in it!
Joy is a choice, and it can be learned.
It requires an act of the will,
discipline of the mind to turn it away from evil and to good,
confidence in God
& dependence on Him (prayer with thanksgiving).

Rejoice in the Lord always;
again I will say Rejoice.
Let all men know your forbearance [gentleness, patience].
The Lord is at hand.
Have no anxiety about anything,
but in everything by prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving [the Greek is “eucharistia”]
let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which passes all understanding,
will keep [as a guard keeping watch]
your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, my brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence,
if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.
What you have learned and received
and heard and seen in me,
and the God of peace be with you.

I rejoice in the Lord greatly
that now at length you have revived your concern for me;
you were indeed concerned for me,
but you had no opportunity.
Not that I complain of want;
for I have learned, in whatever state I am,
to be content
I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound;
in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret
of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want.
I can do all things through Him Who strengthens me.
~Philippians 4:4-13

Romans 8:14-39, encouragement about the glory & security
God’s working out for us, starting now. In God, we’re invincible.

True joy, genuine festival,
means the casting out of wickedness.
To achieve this one must live a life of perfect goodness
and, in the serenity of the fear of God,
practise contemplation in one’s heart.
~Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373)

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal
which comes upon you to prove you,
as though something strange was happening to you.
But rejoice in so far as you share
in Christ’s sufferings,

that you may also rejoice and be glad
when His glory is revealed.
If you are reproached for the Name of Christ, you are blessed,
because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
~I Peter 4:12-14

In His farewell speech at the Last Supper,
Jesus said twice, “Let not your hearts be troubled” (Jn 14:1, 27).
That’s a command.
He gave us His peace (Jn 14:27) to enable us to obey it.

Thus says the Lord to you,
Fear not, and be not dismayed at this great multitude;
for the battle is not yours but God’s.
~2 Chronicles 20:15

But this is God’s cause
God’s honour, His infinite greatness, and divine dignity
are involved.
It is not becoming that His magnificent plan
should be defeated through the machinations of an adversary
whom He had cast out of Heaven for his crimes.
God created man for His own glory,
and predestined his nature to everlasting union with Himself;
and inasmuch as the malice of Satan
was more aimed at his Creator than at man
it became the Infinite Majesty,
and was most worthy the divine goodness,
that He should rescue man from his misery,
and defeat the malignity of Satan.

St. Athanasius boldly declares that
it would be unworthy of God’s goodness
to suffer His own work in man to be destroyed
through the devil’s fraud
It would be unbecoming that God’s workmanship in man
should become extinct,
whether through his own negligence
or through the devil’s imposition.”
(S. Athanas., De Incarnatione Verbi.)
The devil could not be allowed so to gain his end
as to deprive God of the glory of perfecting His own work.
The great St. Leo has argued the point in these terms:
“Forasmuch as the devil glorified
that man had lost the divine gifts
through his fraud and deception,
and had so been stripped of his immortality,
and placed under the stern sentence of death;
and forasmuch as the same Satan had obtained
a solace to his wickedness
bringing over a companion to his prevarication;
it pleased God to change the first sentence passed on man,
a sentence both just and deservedly severe,
and passed on one whom He had established in honour.
But this demanded the dispensation of God’s secret counsel,
that He who is unchangeable,
and whose will cannot lose its benignity,
may complete His fatherly design in a mystery more hidden;
and that, however driven to crime
by the devil’s craft and wickedness,
man may not perish in opposition
to the whole intention of God.”
(S. Leo, Servi. 2 in Nativitate Domini)
~Archbishop Ullathorne, The Endowments of Man

God bless your meditations on joy 🙂

St. Lucy

December 13, 2015


I started writing on the wrong readings for Draw Near
(lost track of the fact that it’s a Sunday!),
but what came was too good to trash, so I thought I’d post it here!

Readings specific for St. Lucy:
2 Corinthians 10:17-11:2 (I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ)
Psalm 31: 3-4, 6, 8, 16-17 “Into Your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit”
+ Matthew 25:1-13 (Parable of the wise and foolish virgins)

The wise and the foolish virgin
*oil on canvas
*97 x 77 cm

The Bridegroom comes!

His bride
must be awake,
and swift of foot,
her lamp alight

(not dallying
with denizens
of night)

that she might
enter in
enraptured by
His joy!


May 6, 2010

One of our RCIA participants asked about Heaven the other day.  “What’s your personal idea of what Heaven is like?  What’s the goal of all this that you’re telling us?”  My husband fielded that question (he’s the Q&A man), but it got me thinking.  It’s an excellent question that we can never exhaust (a good example of a mystery).

As a small child, St. Therese of Lisieux used to just sit and think about Heaven.  It was her first experience of meditation (although she didn’t know the word at the time).  The last night the twins St. Scholastica and St. Benedict spent together they were talking about Heaven (it was a memorable night–St. Scholastica had asked her brother to stay & he refused–it was against his Rule–so she prayed & wept & God sent so fierce a storm that Benedict couldn’t leave!).  When St. Clare begged St. Francis to have a meal with her, they got so wrapped up in talking about Heaven that they completely forgot about the food.  People from the surrounding area saw flames leaping high into the sky and came running with buckets of water to put out the fire–only to find that it was not a material fire at all.  All they found were the saints deep in holy conversation.  Good things happen when we turn our hearts to our final end.

Unfortunately for us, the actual words of those meditations and conversations have not been recorded.  So what is Heaven like?  Why should we want to go there?  Sitting on clouds playing harps all day–at least as we know harps and clouds now–would get boring.  And whatever Heaven is, it’s not boring!  (just read the book of Revelation!)  Boredom is of hell, born of an inner emptiness and dissatisfaction.

I started my own mental juices flowing with two questions: “When have you felt most alive?”  That’s a dim foreshadowing of Heaven (Jesus said, “I came that they might have life and have it to the full”-John 10:10).  And “What do you enjoy?”  All good things will be perfectly fulfilled in Heaven.  We will find them in God.  Will we dance in Heaven?  I like to think so, but if it’s not dance, it’ll be something that makes me feel even more alive, even more radiant.

For me, beauty is a source of life and enjoyment.  In Heaven, everyone will be so beautiful!  And we will see their true beauty.  That in itself would be worth the effort to get there!

One day God showed St. Catharine of Siena the beauty of a soul in the state of grace. It was so beautiful that she could not look on it; the brightness of that soul dazzled her.  “O my God!” she cried out, “if I did not know that there is only one God, I should think that this was one!” The blessed Raymond, her confessor, asked her to describe to him, as far as she was able, the beauty of the soul she had seen. St. Catharine thought of the sweet light of the morning, and of the beautiful colors of the rainbow, but that soul was far more beautiful. She remembered the dazzling beams of the noonday sun, but the light which beamed from that soul was far brighter. She thought of the pure whiteness of the lily and of the fresh snow, but that is only an earthly whiteness. The soul which she had seen was bright with the whiteness of Heaven, such as there is not to be found on earth. “My father,” she answered, “I cannot find anything in this world that can give you the smallest idea of what I have seen. Oh! if you could but see the beauty of a soul in the state of grace, you would sacrifice your life a hundred times for its salvation! No, nothing in this world can bear any resemblance to it.  I asked the angel who was with me,” she continued, “what had made that soul so beautiful, and he answered me: It is the image and likeness of God in that soul, and the Divine Grace which made it so beautiful. -The Catechism in Examples,

Just reading the lives of the saints opens up a window into Heaven–they’re there, in all their humility and peace, self-sacrifice and winsomeness.  The saints loved everyone here on earth, and they love even more perfectly now in Heaven.  Like the saints, everyone in Heaven will love each other, will be thrilled with each others’ company, will communicate exactly what they mean, openly, warmly.  There will be nothing to hide (and no way to hide), no wondering, “what does he really think?” We will all be in harmony, a healthy holy family, everyone looking out for the best good of everyone else.

There will be lots of laughter.  I think of the Poor Clare nuns I visited when I was discerning my vocation.  They were so happy!  So free.  They laughed so often, so merrily.  Heaven will be like that, but without the need for cloister walls.

There will be music, ravishingly beautiful (Revelation 5:9, 14:3, 15:3).  The story is told of St. Francis that he begged God to let him hear the music of Heaven.  God refused, warning him that he wouldn’t be able to bear it.  “Just one note,” begged Francis–and woke from a coma three days later!

There will be a common community energy such as I’ve felt at large Catholic conferences (I suppose most people experience a secular version of it at sporting events).  The praise of God will be a mighty roar (Revelation 14:2, Isaiah 42:11, etc.) and we will be caught up in it, borne up by it.

Freedom.  Peace.  Home.  Welcome.  Rest without boredom.  Filled, satisfied, but always more.  Clean.  Beautiful.  No sin!  Loved, cherished, delighted and a source of delight.  Understood, perfectly, completely.  Celebration (the wedding banquet of the Lamb, see  Revelation 19:7-9).  The only fear will be fear of the Lord, which isn’t a “scary” thing, but rather an awesome, soul-expanding reverence.  Heaven will be familiar, both in the sense of being family and in the sense of reminding us of everything we’ve ever known and loved.  We will feel like we belong there–we do!  It will be precious, valuable, lavish, generous, pulsing with life (I’m reminded of the world in C.S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian where the jewels were alive).

We’ll get to share all of the wonderful stories of how God’s worked in our lives–constant inspiration (as if the Presence of God Face to face wasn’t inspiration enough!)

And this isn’t even touching the wonder of our experience of God Himself. I’m reminded of Dante’s Paradisio, where even the heights of Purgatory were dazzling.  When he reached Heaven, he couldn’t fathom anything more glorious than the least of the saints.  His ability to take in glory was “maxed out” and he was blinded by the splendor, emerging on the other side with strengthened, heightened senses that could take in more as he rose higher and higher in Heaven.

This is the joy and fullness that overflows from the saints in Heaven now, spilling over onto us when we pierce the clouds with shafts of prayer.  Goodness rains down.  We expect so little when they have so much and are so eager to share!

My heart expanded to take in more of this divine generosity…and spread it around down here…

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