Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus, Happy Easter! I wish you many graces from our Victorious Lord this Easter Sunday and during the Easter Octave! The month of April is dedicated to devotion the Holy Eucharist. Let us ask Mary, the Mother of the Eucharist and St. Joseph to increase our Faith in the True Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist! I share with you a reflection on Easter joy. I encourage you to reflect over this message a few times this week: “The Joy of the Resurrection - True joy has its origin in Christ: The Lord has risen from the dead, as He had foretold. Let there be happiness and rejoicing, for He is our King forever, alleluia. (Entrance Antiphon) Joy is never lacking during any part of the liturgical year, because the entire cycle is related in one way or another with the Easter Solemnity. It is in these days, though, that this joy is particularly made manifest. By the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ we have been saved from sin, from the power of the devil and from eternal death. Easter reminds us of our supernatural birth at our Baptism, when we were made children of God, and it is the guarantee of our own resurrection. St. Paul tells us that God has made us alive through Christ, and raised us up with Him. (Eph. 2:6) Christ, the first-born of men, has become the True Exemplar for us and the beginning of our future glorification. Our Mother, the Church, introduces us in these days to the joy of Easter through the texts of the liturgy - readings, psalms, antiphons…; in them she asks above all that this joy be the early solid assurance of our eternal happiness in Heaven. From ancient times, fasting and other bodily mortifications were dispensed from, as an external symbol of a joy at once spiritual and physical. The fifty days of Easter, says St. Augustine, exclude fasts, since it is in anticipation of the banquet that awaits us on high. (St. Augustine, Sermon 252) But this invitation of the liturgy will not be worth anything if a true encounter with the Lord does not occur in our lives, if we do not live with greater fullness the meaning of our Divine Filiation. The writers of the gospels have left us evidence in each of His recorded appearances of how the Apostles rejoiced at seeing the Lord. Their joy increased when they had seen Christ, knowing with certainty now that He lives, for they have been with Him. True joy does not depend on mere physical or material wellbeing, is not diminished by the presence of difficulties, by the absence of health… Deep joy originates in Christ, in the love that God has had for us and in our correspondence with this love. The Lord’s promise is fulfilled - today: I will give you a joy which no one will take from you. (John 16:22) Nobody can. Nor can pain take it away, nor calumny, nor abandonment… nor even weaknesses and falls, if we turn promptly to the Lord. This is the sole condition of our remaining in it: not to separate ourselves from God, not to allow things to divide us from Him; to know at all times that we are His sons and daughters. Sadness is born of waywardness and distance from Gd. Being optimistic, serene and happy even in the midst of tribulation: The Gospel of the Holy Mass tells us: the women came quickly away from the tomb and ran to tell the disciples. And there, coming to meet them, was Jesus. ‘Greetings’, He said. And the women came up to Him, and falling down before Him, clasped His feet. (Matt. 28:8-9) The liturgy of the Easter season repeats these same words in a thousand different texts. Rejoice, never lose you peace and joy. Serve the Lord with gladness (Ps. 99:2), for there is no other way to serve Him. You are enjoying a few days of great happiness, and your soul seems to be filled with light and color. And funnily enough, the reasons for your joy are the same ones that at other times disheartened you! It is always the same: it all depends on the point of view. ‘Laetetur cor quaerentium Dominum!’ - when you seek the Lord, you heart always overflows with happiness. (J. Escriva, Furrow, 72) At the Last Supper, Our Lord did not conceal from the Apostles the contradictions that awaited them. He promised them, however, that their despondency would turn to joy. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. (John 16:22) These words, that at the time may have been incomprehensible, were not completely fulfilled right away. But a short time later, those who had become cowards would now be seen taking leave of the Sanhedrin happy to have suffered something for their Lord. (Acts 5:40) In the love of God, Who is our Father and the Father of all men, and in the consequent forgetfulness of ourselves, lies the origin of that profound joy which is the Christian’s. (The Navarre Bible, Introduction to the Gospel of St. John) And this is usual for those who follow Christ. A pessimistic sadness must always be something foreign to the Christian. It is something that, should it ever occur, will require urgent remedy. Remoteness from God, waywardness, is the only thing that can disturb us and take away this wonderful gift. Let us struggle, therefore, to seek the Lord in our work and in all our undertakings; let us chastise our caprices and our egotism whenever the occasion arises, each day if necessary. This effort keeps us alert and attentive to the things of God, and on the lookout for everything that can make life more pleasant for others. This interior struggle gives the soul a special youthfulness of spirit. There is no greater youthfulness than the youthfulness of one who knows he is a son of God and acts accordingly.
echo will resound in our soul. This is what happens every day in little ways and small things. So it is that, with many acts of contrition, the soul is habitually at peace and in serenity.
We must always foster joy and optimism and reject sadness, which is sterile and leaves the soul at the mercy of many temptations. When one is happy, one is a stimulus and an encouragement for others; sadness, on the other hand, obscures and causes damage.
Giving peace and joy to others: To be happy is a form of giving thanks to God for the innumerable gifts He gives us. Joy is the first tribute we owe Him, the simplest, most sincere way of showing that we are aware of the gifts of nature and grace He showers upon us, and which we thank Him for. (P. A. Reggio, Supernatural Spirit and Good Humour) God the Father is pleased with us when He sees us happy and joyful with true gladness. We do great good around us with our joy, for this brings others to God. Joy is frequently the best example of charity for those around us. Let us remember the first Christians. Their life was attractive because of the peace and joy with which they did the commonplace things of ordinary life. They were families who lived in union with Christ and who made Him known to others, small Christian communities which were centers for the spreading of the Gospel and its message. They were families no different from other families of those times, but living with a new spirit, which spread to all those who were in contact with them. This is what the first Christians were, and this is what we have to be: sowers of peace and joy, the peace and joy that Jesus has brought to us. (J. Escriva, Christ is Passing By, 30) Many people will find God behind our optimism, in the customary smile, in a cordial attitude. This example of charity to others - of forcing ourselves to flee from gloomy moods and sadness at all times and to remove their cause - is particularly communicated to those closest to us. To be more precise, God wants the home where we live to be a bright and cheerful home, never a dark unhappy place, full of tension due to egocentricity and lack of mutual comprehension. A Christian household must be happy, because supernatural life leads us to practicing those virtues (generosity, cordiality, a spirit of service…) to which joy is so intimately united. A Christian home makes Christ known in an attractive way among families and throughout society. We must also try to take this serene, kindly joy to our work-place, out into the street and into all our social relations. The world is apprehensive and anxious. It is in need, above all, of the gaudium cum pace (Roman Missal, Preparation for Holy Mass), of the peace and joy the Lord has given us. So many people have found the road to God in the cordial, smiling conduct of a good Christian! Joy is an enormous help in the apostolate because it leads us to give Christ’s message in a cheerfully benevolent and positive way, as the Apostles did after the Resurrection. Jesus Christ must always have demonstrated His infinite interior peace. We need it for ourselves too, in order to grow internally. St. Thomas Aquinas says expressly that everyone who wants to make progress in the spiritual life needs to have joy. (St. Thomas, Commentary of the Letter to the Philippians, 4, 1) Sadness debilitates us. It is like the heavy clay accumulating on the boots of a walker which, as well as befouling them, makes each step more difficult for him. This interior joy is also the state of mind necessary for perfectly complying with our obligations. And the greater these are, the greater must be our joy. (P. A. Reggio, op. cit.) The greater our responsibility (parents, teachers, priests, superiors…), the greater also our obligation to have this peace and joy to give to others, and the greater the urgency of recovering it when its habitual possession has been interrupted or disturbed. Let us think of the joy of the Blessed Virgin. She is unreservedly open to the joy of the Resurrection… She recapitulates all joys, lives the perfect joy promised to the Church: ‘Mater plena sanctae laetitiae’ she is, and with every reason her children on earth, turning their eyes toward the Mother of hope and the Mother of grace, invoke her as the Cause of their Joy - ‘causa nostrae laetitiae’. (Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete in Domino, 9 May 1975)” (From: In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez) Through the intercession of Mary, Mother and Queen of all hearts, St. Joseph, and St. Columbkill, may we all grow in the joy of our Lord’s Resurrection from the dead! In Christ through Mary, Fr. Kasel