Eye has not seen, nor has Ear heard, Nor has any Human Heart conceived the welcome
Our life on earth is a warfare! Satan, who is our adversary, has 3 most powerful weapons in his arsenal: The 3 “Ds” ~ the 3 big guns of the Father of Lies … DEPRESSION, DISCOURAGEMENT, DESPAIR!
It is so vital that we explore, embrace and present the JOY of the Catholic Faith, unknown by many but, more often than not, forgotten by almost all.
Saint Jean Marie Vianney told his faithful that, for those who love God, there is always springtime in the heart. JOY is far from artificial gaiety or a big smile. It is not something you can turn on or even go in search of. JOY is an overflow from a life that is fully lived in Christ. In spite of all conditions of body or even dryness of the soul, JOY is an effect of the presence of the Holy Spirit within us. When a person has found the ONE THING in the whole world, which is the key to everything else, the joy resulting from this discovery is bound to be unique. We begin our approach to God through faith. We must grasp those remarkable things, which are unseen. Once we realize the Life of Christ within us, we will not keep Him locked in our hearts. This faith and joy we will take with us everywhere we go. Those around us will have the joy of seeing Christ in our actions, reflected and refracted in a thousand encouraging words, friendly gestures and unselfish acts of generosity.
Through Faith, we “see” as it were, the invisible God. Through Hope, we make a start to embrace God and the things of God. Hope is the theological virtue that inclines us to expect, with firm confidence, Eternal Life and the means to reach it. Our hope is based on the infinite power, mercy and fidelity of God, to whom we are not just creatures but sons and daughters. If we are to possess the full JOY of our hope, we must have an intense trust in God. “Although He should kill me, I will trust Him”. (Job 13:15) In order to be supernatural, our hope must be marked by PATIENCE. “Wait patiently for the Lord to help you, be brave and let your heart take comfort.” (Ps.26:14) Saint Terese of the Child Jesus over-simplified her doctrine of the “LITTLE WAY” in these words: “We can never have too much confidence in our God, Who is so mighty and so merciful, for according to the measure of our hope, we shall receive.”
JOY is the most infallible SIGN of the PRESENCE of GOD!
Through our precious Catholic Faith, we have the JOY to love God. Our love for God must be authentic. It cannot be mere sentiment or consist solely of words. To love God is nothing more than having our will united to His, wishing always to see the Will of God exalted and fulfilled. Our friendship with God begins in Faith and Hope but it is not complete until it develops into love. The only way we can show that we love God is through our zeal to see that His Will be done “on earth as it is in Heaven.” Proof of our zeal is obedience to God’s Law and the direction of all our actions for His exaltation, honor and glory. We cooperate freely in His plan of redemption and this co-operation itself is a source of great JOY.
The JOY of Heaven will be the result of our union with God.
God is so eager to forgive. He wants to spare mankind from destruction and He will do so if only a relatively few number of godly people can be found. We can see from the parable of the prodigal son that, upon the return of the son, the joy which is by far the greatest is not that of the repentant son, but that of the father who witnesses his return. The thrilling fact is that participation in the Life of Christ means participation in His divinity. WHAT ELSE IS SUPERNATURAL LIFE! As fishes live in the sea, as birds live in the air, we live in Christ. When the Life of Christ really takes possession of a soul, it floods the soul, makes it aflame with divine truth and goodness, and gives it a brightness which, at times, shows on the faces of the saints. Many of us keep this bright flame under the blanket of the ashes of venial sin. One by one, week after week, they construct a wall between Christ and us, keeping Him at a distance.
The life we have BY CHRIST, IN CHRIST and WITH CHRIST is Sanctifying Grace. If we understood this properly, the only thing that would concern us every day of our lives would be to gain an ever-increasing amount of Sanctifying Grace. There is mediocrity in our lives because the joy of growing in Christ’s Life is not understood. Christ is left out of any of our actions that are in contradiction to His teaching. The Catholic who gives himself totally to the practice of his faith possesses within himself, a well-spring of JOY. While Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life, He is also the splendor of the Kingdom, which will be swallowed up in Eternity. Through grace, we have become sharers in the glory and privileges of the Only-Begotten Son. It is because His Son is in us that the Father can have for us a Father’s Love. No father is satisfied if his children simply stay out of trouble; he wants them to accomplish something of which both he and they can be rightly proud.
As the members of our body are always working together for the good of the whole, so the members of Christ’s Mystical Body experience a deep JOY in serving one another. Each is truly dedicated to bring both physical and spiritual health to those who are sick. They will be judged as having done to Him whatever they have done for one another. St. Teresa of Avila spoke to a group of priests with this plea of love, “Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours; yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion is to look on the world; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good, and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.” Ours is the awesome JOY of having Christ’s Love, for men pass through us to them. We are the channels of His Love. It is our high privilege to manifest it to all with whom we associate. But how often do we do just the opposite, looking for pretexts to avoid offering our spiritual brothers and sisters a word of greeting, good counsel, comfort, sympathy and encouragement. We are surrounded by people who are spiritually thirsty, and we fail to give them the water which Christ has given us. We hoard the living water He wants us to dispense, thus depriving ourselves of giving JOY and our fellowman of receiving JOY. There is nothing that draws people to God more than to see the light of His love in the faces of those who claim to be His spokesmen. No man is an island, the sorrow of one is the sorrow of all; the joy of one is the joy of all!
Our every grace, every virtue, every gift comes from the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of God. Every movement of our soul towards God is through the Holy Spirit alone. He is the principle of life for the Mystical Body of Christ as the soul is the principle of life for our physical body.
Come Holy Spirit, expand our Souls with the JOY that is the beginning of Eternal Life!
The Catholic experiences joy that is hard to describe in the realization that he can enter any church – be it in New York or London or Moscow, anywhere on earth and witness the visible verification of the words of Saint Paul: “You are one body, with a single Spirit, called in the same Hope, with the same Lord, the same Faith, the same Baptism, the same God, the same Father Who abides in us all.”
Those who belong to Christ’s Church NEVER had to be concerned that they would hear a different doctrine preached or see a different liturgy offered, from one country to another, one century to the next. Sorrowfully, today, this is no longer true. This deep source of JOY is now part of the weapon Satan is wielding in order to bring about … DIVISION, DEPRESSION and DESPAIR.
We beg God that, once again, through our prayer of suffering, the Church will exult in the soul-stirring unity that has always marked her public worship of God.
Every denial of truth involves falsehood. The devil is the Father of Lies. Gloom accompanies the darkness of falsehood. Any man who cuts himself off from God and his fellow man becomes an island, joyless and desolate. Satan was the first fool in the spiritual order and the only satisfaction left to him is to make fools of human beings. His enormous success is sadly evident. To fool means to treat with utter contempt: to disappoint, defeat, to frustrate and to deceive. Most people detect this treatment in worldly matters but, in the spiritual order, they seem not to realize what is happening.
Wisdom gives us the JOY of judging everything in conformity to the mind of God Himself. Wisdom, it is that makes us realize we have only the present day, the present hour, and that the past is over forever. The future is in the Hands of God. It is a total lack of Wisdom for any man to sit in judgment of his fellow man. His own vices and shortcomings are often more obvious than the man he is so eager to judge. To acknowledge our failures, weaknesses and mistakes is true Wisdom.
“If I did not suffer minute by minute, it would be impossible for me to be patient, but I see only the present moment, I forget the past and take good care not to anticipate the future. If we grow disheartened, if we sometimes despair, it is because we have been dwelling on the past or the future.” St. Terese of Lisieux
The JOY of True Peace
Peace is a word that is greatly misunderstood. Peace is not the absence of disturbance or war or hate. It is not a negative quality. PEACE is the GIFT of tranquility of order. Some foresee peace as a thing dull and boring – inaction. Not so! God made man’s body for action and He would not ask man to settle down in a glorified state to an eternity of inaction. To be peaceable does not mean to be passionless. Virtues are passions in right order, while vices are passions in disorder. Peace of mind cannot be obtained without order in the mind. Order is the effect of truth. When man’s mind is divorced from truth, his mind is in disorder. Peace of heart depends upon the order that exists in one’s will. If peace of mind is combined with peace of heart, a man’s spiritual house is in perfect order. The peace, which Christ imparted to His disciples, was a peace which could be won only by those who were willing to fight.
“Let thy desire be the vision of God; thy fear the loss of Him, thy sorrow His absence, thy JOY that which may take thee to Him, and thy life shall be in great peace!” Saint Teresa of Avila
Peace is the perfection of JOY. In order to bear the peace of Christ, we must rid ourselves of all the sinful disorders that weigh us down. All the joy we possess through membership in the Church, as well as the joy that will be ours in Heaven, has come to us from the Cross. It was for me that Longinus opened the side of Christ with his lance that I might enter there and rest in full security.
The exchange between Christ and the Good Thief was like a ray of light piercing the gloom that hung over Calvary. Good Friday was the saddest and the gladdest of days. Christ gave us His mortal Life that we might be saved from eternal misery. All our joy in believing, hoping and loving proceeds from the Cross. Our Lord looked down at His Blessed Mother and, for a brief moment in the midst of all His suffering, a warm feeling came over His Heart. What a wonderful creature was Mary, His Mother! And, now, He would proclaim to the world what place she would occupy in the sphere of redemption.
Through Mary, all graces would flow …
Mary would be the symbol of His Church. Already, He had told His disciples that, if they took up their crosses daily and followed Him, they would be His brothers and the sons of His Father; now, He announced to them that His Mother would be their Mother, the Mother of all Christians. Let us pray that the whole world will come to know Mary, for surely this is one of the greatest JOYS given to us as God’s children.
It is a difficult saying to hold out suffering as a blessing. But, this is what Christ calls us to hold. Blessed are those who are persecuted and reviled for My sake, theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven! Every pain that afflicts us is a manifestation of the Will of God. Many will be surprised to hear this, that God should wish our suffering. The plain truth is that the CROWN can be gained only through the CROSS. There is no other way to glory for us than that traversed by Our Lord. In His Will is our peace. In His peace is our joy. The fact that we cannot understand His purpose in a particular trial should not lessen our gladness in carrying out His Will. Every cross is a purification! Flowers yield their full perfume only when they are crushed. In the spiritual world, we find fulfillment when our will has been crushed and re-fashioned to match the Master’s Will, from which flows all peace and joy in this world and in the next.
By raising our minds and our hearts to God a thousand times daily, in petition, thanksgiving, adoration and oblation, we begin to live in His presence. Such conversation with God is one of the supreme joys during our earthly sojourn. Lay your needs at His Feet and have absolute confidence in His power and mercy. Above all, beg God to give you the grace to do perfectly His Will.
We have the three-fold JOY of Holy Communion… Nourishment, Union and Charity. Saint Paul expressed that the purpose of this Sacrament is to make us one with Christ and all the members of His Mystical Body. “This Sacrament is the very soul of the Church,” says Pope Leo XIII, “from It, the Church draws all Her strength, all Her glory, Her every supernatural endowment and adornment and every good thing that is Hers.” The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the culmination and center of Christian religion. Every day for the Church is both Holy Thursday and Good Friday.
The Eucharistic Sacrifice is an act of perfect adoration. The cleansing stream of Christ’s Blood flows anew during the Mass, washing away the sins of those who are truly united with the supreme Priest as he offers the perfect act of atonement in their name. We turn away after Mass, not as from something finished, but as from something begun. The Catholic Church regards Mary as God’s masterpiece. What cause for joy does the thought of Mary well up within us! If we are criticized for the prominence we give the Mother of God, we take our cue from the Master Himself. He placed Mary at the very center of the mystery of Redemption. If our praise of her is regarded as extreme, we reply that no praise of her has been greater than that contained in the salutation of the Angel Gabriel, who said to her, “Hail Mary, Full of Grace!” (Lk. 1:28) Mary is the Treasure of the Lord. We rejoice in her sinlessness. No mother has ever been so eager to obtain favors for her children, as Mary is for us, and no mother was ever given more power to do so. We have only the faintest idea now of the joy that will be ours upon finding Mary waiting to welcome us on the shores of Eternity.
Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, Our Life, Our Sweetness and Our Hope!
The Joy of Our Angels
One of the most exciting truths about our Faith is strangely neglected. Every one has his own Guardian Angel who acts as a companion, counselor, guardian, consoler and intercessor. By and large, we not only pay no heed to his influence in our lives, but we utterly disregard his very presence. We should realize that we are depriving ourselves of a substantial joy by not being aware that we have at our side, such a powerful and charming friend. The important part Angels play in our lives is revealed, time and again, in Holy Scripture. Michael emerges as the great heavenly Warrior, Gabriel appears as the Messenger of joy and Raphael is regarded as the Angel of health and healing. In the Book of Tobias, we read how Archangel Raphael made himself the companion of young Tobias on a journey he made at the request of his father. Raphael saved the young man from being injured by a huge fish, helped him choose a wife, collected a debt that was owed his father and drove out evil spirits. The old Tobias was blind and vision was restored to him. Great light is thrown on the way Angels deal with man by the statement which Raphael made to the two Tobiases as he prepared to leave them, “Come let me tell you the whole truth of the matter… When thou, Tobias, wert praying, when thou wert burying the dead and leaving thy supper go untasted, I, all the while, was offering that prayer of thine to the Lord. Then, because thou hadst found favor with God, it was necessary that trials must come, and test thy worth.” Raphael and our Guardian Angels are waiting to bring into our lives the joy that was brought to Tobias.
When God appointed an Angel to go before the chosen people in the desert on their way to the Promised Land, He said, “And, now, I am sending My Angel to go before thee and guard thee on thy way, and lead thee to the place I have made ready for thee. Give him good heed, listen to his bidding; think not to treat him with neglect.” (Ex.23:20,21) Our first obligation to our angels is to have reverence for their presence. We are protected by a prince of the heavenly army, one of those chosen spirits of whom Christ said that they always see the Face of God — this conviction fills us with reverence, devotion and firm confidence. No friend on earth is as ready to console us in the hour of grief, help in times of difficulty, illumine us in the hour of temptation and bring joy into our lives.
COME, Follow me! I WILL MAKE YOU FISHERS OF MEN
It is in the work of extending the Kingdom of Christ that we, Christians, should mainly seek the joy of action. There can be no greater accomplishment for one who believes in God than to be instrumental in bringing His Life to other men. The harvest is plentiful enough, but the laborers are few. Never have such vast fields been ready for harvesting as today. The times in which we live are torn by serious errors, and are troubled by violent disturbances, yet, the Church’s laborers in this age have access to enormous fields of apostolic endeavor. The hour for positive action has sounded. What is to be thought of anyone who would linger, passive and sluggish, deploring the evils of our day and taking pleasure in criticizing those of their brothers who show more generous goodwill than they do? “What is most necessary today is not more schools, more churches, more priests: NO, the prime necessity today is to have in every parish a group of laymen – virtuous, enlightened, resolute, fearless and truly apostolic.” (Pope St. Pius X) At Baptism, all Christians are given the canonical mission to convert the world. Whether we eat or drink or do anything else, let us do it for the glory of God! Every believer in this world must be a spark of light, a center of love, a vivifying leaven amidst his fellowmen.
HAVE COURAGE, HEAVEN IS YOUR HOME!
Heaven is not the subject of many a sermon. As a result, we deprive ourselves of the joy, encouragement and inspiration that the thought of Heaven would give us. Heaven means the end of everything that is unpleasant and painful. It means rest and peace, after the toil and battle of earthly existence. HEAVEN MEANS GOING HOME! Above all, it means the eternal vision of God. We will have a marvelous freedom of action and our glorified bodies will shine with a brightness reflected from our beatified souls. Our idea of God is weak and hazy and our joy at the thought of Heaven is not what it should be. In seeing God, we will see all things. In possessing Him, we will possess all things. In Heaven, we will be filled with the knowledge of all things that God has created and with the knowledge of God Himself. If you have loved somebody with a great, enduring and holy love, you will rejoice that, in possessing God in Heaven, you will also possess this loved one with all of his or her loveable qualities purified and heightened as well as divinized.
What a glorious gift is ours in the precious Catholic Faith! Do not leave it dormant, a prisoner of your heart. Place your lantern upon the mountaintop that the world may …
Know God more intimately,
The years are passing by and, swiftly, we are being carried into Eternity. Go with JOY to the House of the Lord! “THERE HE IS! THERE HE IS, O BEAUTIFUL GOD!”