‘Tis the season to nurture a joyful spirit. Here are some neat quotes and stories about persevering in joy throughout our journey with the Lord. (Every subsequent word is copied down from the book, Saintly Solutions by Fr. Joseph Esper)
- Philip Neri insisted, “A cheerful soul becomes holy more quickly.”
- Teresa of Avila was known for her lively and affectionate personality, her sharp (although not unkind) wit, and her ever-present sense of humor… Teresa enjoyed life, food included. Someone once sent her a partridge for her meal, which she ate with relish. A visitor was scandalized that a saint was taking delight in her food and wondered aloud what people would think. “Let them think what they please, there is a time for partridge and a time for penance.”
- St. Athanasius, the biographer of the desert Father St. Anthony of Egypt, wrote, “Strangers knew [Anthony] from among his disciples by the joy on his face.”
- Cheerfulness isn’t just an attitude or personality trait; it can be, and quite often should be, part of our response to God’s gift of life – even when life isn’t easy. According to Blessed Julian of Norwich, “The greatest honor you can give to the Almighty God is to live gladly, joyfully because of the knowledge of His love.”
- The eighteenth century priest Blessed Sebastian Valfre was always so happy that everyone assumed he hadn’t a care in the world – even when he experienced a prolonged and terrible desolation and was constantly tempted by fears that he had lost his faith.
- A charming story is told about Blessed Jordan of Saxony, who succeeded St. Dominic as the second Master General of the Dominican Order in the thirteenth century. Once during night prayer, a novice experienced a giggling fit. It quickly proved contagious, and soon all the novices were giggling. A scandalized brother tried to threaten them into silence, but Jordan rebuked him, saying, “Who made you novice master?” and then told the young men, “Laugh on! You may well laugh, for you have escaped from the Devil, who formerly held you in bondage. Laugh away, dear sons!”
- Francis de Sales claimed that the Devil likes to see us sad and melancholy. Satan is going to suffer for all eternity, and in his anger and despair, he wants us to share his misery. Therefore, choosing to be happy can represent a rejection of the Devil and be an act of faith in God.
- That raises an important point: just as love is an act of the will, and not primarily a feeling, so, too, to some extent, is joy. We can choose to be happy, even is we don’t feel happy, for if we follow through on a decision to be optimistic and grateful, and refuse to give into negative thinking, our feelings will begin to change.
- The young Jesuit Aloysius Gonzaga was once playing happily with his companions when someone asked him what he would do if an angel told him he would die and appear before God’s throne in fifteen minutes. Aloysius answered that he would continue playing, because, he said, “I am certain that these games are pleasing to God”. Just as our wholesome enjoyment of life meant to please God, so is our wholehearted experience of religion meant to please us.
- The holy abbot Columban once asked the young monk St. Deicolus, “Why are you smiling?” Deicolus answered, “Because no one can take God from me.”
Joey McCoy is a medical student at the University of Michigan. He enjoys hot water, Josef Pieper, the sound of waves, and anything pertaining to Evangelization.