A Big Problem
I’ve gotta admit: fellow Catholics, lately we’ve been a bunch of sourfaced, angry Facebook spammers with an axe to grind. At least, that’s how a lot of people have perceived us to be. When we speak more about what we’re against than what we’re for, that’s how we’re gonna appear to the rest of the world.
Especially online these days — on Catholic blogs, Twitter, and Facebook — we’re doing this a lot. It’s made me wonder whether we’re even listening to the Pope Francis we supposedly L-O-V-E; the pope who communicates a clear message week after week. Today, he tweeted it:
Mhmm. Joy. This Sunday’s Gospel spoke about the joy of the 72 disciples. Jesus tells them, “Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Lk 10:20). Don’t we often need to hear this? Apparently, Pope Francis thinks so. He has rebuked Christians several times in his homilies for not having true, Christian joy – this past weekend, he said that priests, seminarians and religious with a “long, sad face” might as well leave!
This all made me wonder: How do we obtain, and maintain, Christian joy? So, I researched Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and I found 10 ways:
- Recall my utter dependence on God. Everything in my life is in his hands, and each day is a gift of love from Him.
“Recognizing this utter dependence with respect to the Creator is a source of wisdom and freedom, of joy and confidence…” (CCC pp. 301)
- Share my personal encounter with Jesus. My life has been transformed and I have been reborn, because I know Jesus. Sharing this Good News gives life to another person.
“…What we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you […] We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.” (cf. 1 John 1:1-4)
- Pray daily to the Holy Spirit.
“…The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
- Embrace the Sabbath and celebrations of the Church.
“It is the pre-eminent day of the liturgical assembly, the day of the Christian family, and the day of joy and rest from work.” “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body.” (CCC pps. 1193, 2185)
- Participate in my family’s life.
“Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous — even repeated — forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one’s life.” (CCC pp. 1657)
- Remember the big picture.
Hope for Heaven “affords us joy even under trial.” (cf. CCC 1820)
- Give of myself.
“The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy.” (CCC 1829)
- Give of myself, especially to my spouse.
“The acts in marriage by which the intimate and chaste union of the spouses takes place are noble and honorable; the truly human performance of these acts fosters the self-giving they signify and enriches the spouses in joy and gratitude.” (cf. CCC 2362)
- Celebrate truth, goodness, and beauty.
“The practice of goodness is accompanied by spontaneous spiritual joy and moral beauty. Likewise, truth carries with it the joy and splendor of spiritual beauty.” (CCC pp. 2500)
- Pray in Jesus’ Name.
“Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.” (John 16:24)
Guess what? These 10 actually coincide with another 10 familiar items…
- Recall my utter dependence on God. (I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me.) If I know God is my God, I won’t serve anything else.
- Pray in Jesus’ Name. (You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.) If I pray in the Name of Jesus, I will hold God’s Name with reverence.
- Embrace the Sabbath and celebrations of the Church. (Keep holy the Lord’s day.)
- Participate in my family’s life. (Honor your father and mother.)
- Share my personal encounter with Jesus. (You shall not kill.) The Good News gives life to others. My focus on life in Christ will prevent me from wishing harm in others’ lives.
- Give of myself especially to my spouse. (You shall not commit adultery.) Experiencing the joy of self-gift with my spouse will cultivate faithfulness in our marriage.
- Give of myself. (You shall not steal.) My practice of charity will rid me of the desire to steal.
- Celebrate truth, goodness, and beauty. (You shall not bear false witness.)
- Pray daily to the Holy Spirit. (You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.) My chaste desire for the Spirit’s fruitfulness will leave no room for lustful desires.
- Remember the big picture. (You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.) If I long for Heaven, I’ll not require material possessions for my personal fulfillment.
So, will you join me in seeking to be a joyful Christian today?