Christian Joy is NOT for wimps!!!!

joyfulnuns

-Life is tough.  Nuns are tougher. 🙂

I meet LOTS of Catholics.  Not surprised?  I talk to EVERYBODY!!!  I hang with my Latin chanting, really conservative peeps Sunday AM and my really flaming liberal, love children PM.  Kelly is amazed I can do this.  It’s natural for me.  It’s who i am.  I find sincere Catholics always in both.  Always.  I LOVE to hang with thoughtful, intelligent, sincere Catholics and non-Catholics.  Surprise.

I want to start an inter-parish exchange program on Sunday mornings including breakfast.  Four of you this Sunday.  Four of you others next.  We attend Mass at each other’s parish.  You know you belong to the same Church, don’t you?  🙂

The extreme fringes of either I really have no passion for.  The ones that REALLY scare me are the joyless ones.  Those who seem consumed by compliance, obedience, adherence, ritual, form, but the one thing that distinguishes them from other, healthier Catholics, is they are joyless.  I mean, really, what is the point?  Really?  Really?  Really.

Yet You desired faithfulness even in the womb;
You taught me wisdom in that secret place…
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from Your presence
or take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to You.
Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare Your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
You, God, will not despise.

-Ps 51:6, 8, 10-13, 15-17

“The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.” -Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), 1.

“This is the joy which we experience daily, amid the little things of life, as a response to the loving invitation of God our Father…” –Ibid, 4.

“There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter…Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved. I understand the grief of people who have to endure great suffering, yet slowly but surely we all have to let the joy of faith slowly revive as a quiet yet firm trust, even amid the greatest distress: “My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is… But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness… It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (Lam 3:17, 21-23, 26). “– Ibid, 6.

Caritas Christi urget nos!!! -2 Cor 5:14

“Sadness ought to be banished from Catholic souls.” -Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati 

“The very word “gospel,” “eu-angelion,” shows that Christianity is “glad tidings” and that its whole tenor must be indisputably that of joy.” -Han Urs von Balthasar, opening sentence of “Joy and the Cross”

St. Thomas Aquinas says, “No man can live without joy.” and, “Joy is the noblest human act.”

Christian Joy means getting TOUGH!!!

Joy is not for wimps…True joy – the kind that doesn’t evaporate in the face of opposition and obstacles – must be anchored in the hope of salvation in Jesus Christ. The saints learned this secret, and we must learn it, too. It’s not easy, of course. Like weeds, obstacles to cultivating true joy spring up all around us: struggles at home, problems with finances, illness, failed relationships, difficulties in the workplace, and, most alarming, confusion, division, and dissent within the Church itself…

For a Catholic, joy in the midst of adversity is not merely a
possibility or a suggestion, but an obligation…

The foundation of abiding joy is the realization that God is our
loving Father, Who allows all the trials and circumstances in our
lives to work together for our good, what we commonly call divine
providence (cf. Rom. 8:28). Every difficulty we encounter is
provided as an opportunity for us to demonstrate our trust and
reliance upon our Father. If we truly have confidence in His
loving care for us, why would we allow ourselves to become
discouraged by the troubles that surround us?

Don’t feel like you’re a particularly joyful person? You can do something about it. Like building a muscle through repeated weight lifting, joy is strengthened by practicing natural virtues. God’s gift of grace builds on nature, so by developing virtue, the treasure of divine life (cf. 2 Pet. 1:4) flourishes within our hearts. But this takes consistent effort. It means we must work to acquire fortitude, so that we don’t give up when things become difficult; temperance, so that we don’t give in to excesses in pursuing the pleasures of this world; justice, so we may prioritize and fulfill our daily obligations; and prudence, so that we may be truly wise and always able to evaluate our earthly circumstances in light of eternity. Without these natural virtues, our joy may be stolen from us…

Developing our joy in Christ is a lifelong process, and distractions will inevitably arise that will divert our attention away from Christ and toward the difficulties of our daily lives. These distractions are all the more painful and challenging when they are encountered close to home within our own families and within the Church itself…

Each of us could compose a long laundry list of all the challenges, frustrations, and temptations to anger we encounter in our families and within the Church: Dissent from Church teaching, liturgical abuses, and division (to name a few examples) exist, but to become consumed by these problems would be to go directly against Sacred Scripture, which calls us to let our mind dwell on good and wholesome things (cf. Phil. 4:8). This doesn’t mean we ignore or deny that these difficulties exist, but neither should we become preoccupied with them.

We see the problems, yes, but our focus must be on the solutions.
And even if there is no apparent earthly solution, we should
maintain a sense of hope and thanksgiving for the eternal life
that awaits us.

Besides being an essential characteristic of the faithful
Christian, joy is also a powerful element in leading others to
Christ and His Church. It’s been said that the greatest obstacle
to Catholicism is often Catholics. When we come across to non-
Catholics as pessimistic, suspicious, and incessant complainers
about problems in the Church, we aren’t going to be very effective
in evangelizing them. In fact, the more we Catholics appear morose
and cranky, the less seriously the world will take us and the
Gospel of Christ. We even run the risk of making the Church and
its teachings appear ludicrous to non-Catholics when all they see
is carping, name-calling, and rivalries among us.

Christ came to give abundant life (cf. John 10:10). When we live
that abundant life, we become walking, breathing advertisements
for the truth and power of Christ’s Gospel.

St. Augustine once remarked that “our hearts are restless until
they rest in Thee.” This truth is the key to reaching people with
the message of Christ and His Church. People are already seeking
Him, even if they don’t realize it. Each person we encounter is
seeking true happiness, but without Christ he is destined to seek
it in places and in ways that will never satisfy what he really
craves – a deep, abiding joy that comes only from Christ.

That’s why it’s essential that we manifest this joy to those
around us! If the people we seek to evangelize see us as angry,
pessimistic, and unduly aggravated by problems within and without
the Church, why should they want to become Catholic? No. We must
show those around us that, because of Christ, we are joyful,
undaunted, and hopeful, in spite of the problems and obstacles
that may surround us.

St. Lawrence the Martyr, while in the process of being grilled to
death on a gridiron, is reported to have looked up at his
executioners and said, “Excuse me, I believe I’m done on this
side. You can turn me over now.” That’s a sense of humor the world
doesn’t understand. It flows from the joy of knowing and loving
Christ. A similar sense of humor is necessary in ordinary life…

Joy in Christ leads naturally to evangelization. And we should
remember that authentic evangelization doesn’t mean imposing our
views on others. It means offering in a charitable way what they
are already seeking: the fullness of Truth. God has placed within
each of us the desire for truth…

For Catholics who don’t cultivate joy and charity, discussions
with non-Catholics or poorly formed Catholics often become mere
debates, futile and frustrating for both parties. But for the
joyful Catholic, these encounters are opportunities for grace –
not attempts to win arguments, but inviting the other person to
the fullness of communion with Christ in His Church.

We will, of course, encounter obstacles, difficulties, and
rejection, but we can accept these as opportunities to deepen our
trust in and reliance upon Christ and prove our faithfulness…Our job as Catholics is to serve as lights in the darkness.

Momentary setbacks and even spectacular earthly failures won’t rob us of our joy, because we haven’t placed our joy in the things of
this world. Our joy and hope are grounded in Christ and in the
life to come.

St. Alphonsus Liguori once said, “Those who pray are saved, those
who don’t are not.” If we constantly converse with Christ through
prayer, we need fear nothing. Think about the joy of the early
martyrs. In one account of early Roman persecution, a Catholic
suffered days of torture as the soldiers tried to make him deny
Christ. The ordeal ended in frustration for his tormentors. An
exasperated guard cried, “There is nothing we will be able to do
to destroy this man unless we can get him to sin!” You and I must
develop the same spirit of perseverance under pressure.” -by Curtis A. Martin, “You’d Better Not Pout.”

In His Joy,
Love,
Matthew

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