“May no one read sadness or sorrow in your face, when you spread in the world around you the sweet aroma of your sacrifice: the children of God should always be sowers of peace and joy.” St. José María Escrivá, The Furrow, #59.

 

The old saying goes “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”. It seems like an almost universally accepted truth. If only all of the truth of the Catholic Faith was as widely held. People simply respond more favorably to you when you have a smile on your face and authentic joy in your heart. A joyful person is approachable, inviting, and appealing. Perhaps more importantly, a joyful person is disarming.

It is common for unbelievers and critics to claim that Catholics are a sorrowful bunch. Many times this may be true. Some of us though meaning well simply forget that in God, Joy is abundant. We may take a serious tone in talking with people about the rules and proofs of our faith. They may see us forgoing worldly pleasures and assume that we are devoid of cheer. This of course is because they consider pleasure to be joy. How wrong they are! Nevertheless, we would all do well to be reminded of the joy we profess to others in our faith.

These days it seems like there is so much for us to be cheerless about. There are wars raging in many parts of the world. People are starving in the third world. Throughout history Christians have been persecuted. We were food for the lions in Rome. Our cathedrals were ransacked while our priests were martyred in the “enlightened” days of the French Revolution. Hitler starved us alongside the Jews in his dark days. Perhaps never in history has it been more apparent that a great persecution was looming against Christ and His Church than it is now.

Despite all of that, it is perhaps more imperative than ever that we carry the joy of Christ in our hearts. Though we enjoy many freedoms now, many of us are rightly afraid of the days ahead. When evil begins to gain the upper hand and it seems like the battle is unwinnable; when we have lost those freedoms we have taken for granted, and it seems everything points to sorrow and pain, it is precisely in those moments that we must wear that joy not only in our hearts, but on our faces. Joy may be one of the few things we have left if things continue on their course. Joy is one of those gifts, along with faith, reason, and intellect that no one can take from us unless we give up on it.

If we are cheerful, we can more effectively carry out Christ’s mission for us. Joy lightens the load and makes the journey bearable. Joy can transform the world. More importantly, joy can transform each of us. Joy can lead us to Heaven, and as C.S. Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of Heaven”