Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus, During this month of October, the month dedicated to Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, let us ask our Blessed Mother for the Peace of Christ to reign in our country and the Triumph of her Immaculate Heart in our world! This Sunday, I share with you a reflection on a theme from the Gospel of the weekend: Christian Joy. I encourage you to reflect over this message a few times this week: “Joyful in the Lord: The Lord wants His disciples to be happy. We will find happiness when we fall in love with Him - The Entrance Antiphon for today‟s Holy Mass reminds us how to be joyful: Let hearts rejoice who search for the Lord. Seek the Lord and His strength, seek always the face of the Lord. (Entrance Antiphon, Ps. 104:34) When we don‟t seek the Lord, then we will find real happiness to be unattainable. Sadness springs from egoism, from the pursuit of comfort, from careless neglect in the things of God and of our fellow men… In short, it springs from living for ourselves. But the Lord has made us to be happy. He wants us to be even more joyful when we follow His call. As it is written in the book of Joel: Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things!... Be glad, O sons of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord, your God; for He has given the early rain for your vindication, He has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before. (Joel 2:21-23) Joy is indispensable to a Christian‟s life. When a soul is joyful, it has wings to fly towards God. A happy soul is closer to God and is able to undertake works of service for other people. In contrast, sadness paralyses one‟s desires for sanctity and apostolate. It is a great evil because it clouds our vision. This is why St. Paul repeats his injunction to the early Christians: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. (Phil. 4:4) Our Christian joy will prove to be a source of strength in time of trial. It will also serve to attract other people to the Faith. Sadness does not come from suffering itself, but from the failure to look upon Jesus. St. Thomas teaches that this infirmity of the soul is a vice provoked by disordered self-love. In addition, it can lead to many other problems. (cf. St. Thomas, Summa Theologiae, 2-2, q. 28, a. 4) It can be likened to a diseased root which will produce only bitter fruit. Sadness can be the cause of lack of charity, of a reckless love of comfort, of a surrender to temptations of the senses. You need a heart which is in love, not an easy life, to achieve happiness. (J. Escriva, Furrow, 795) Happiness is the first effect of love. Sadness is the sterile fruit of egoism, laziness and the absence of love. Sadness moves the soul to anger and fury. Whenever we are sad, we know how easy it is for us to become upset at the slightest provocation. Sadness also inclines us to be suspicious and spiteful. Sometimes it may even lead a person to lose his senses. (St. Gregory the Great, Morals, 1, 31, 31) The sad soul falls into sin without a fight. Such gloominess is a sure road to destruction. As a moth does by a garment, and a worm by the wood, so the sadness of a man consumes the heart. (Prov. 25:20) If there should come a time when we experience this sickness of soul, let us examine our conscience with courage. Where have we placed our heart? ‘Laetetur cor quaerentium Dominum’ – ‘Let the hearts of them rejoice who seek the Lord’. There you have light to help you discover the reasons for your sadness. (J. Escriva, The Way, 666) How difficult it is to become sad when we walk in the presence of our Father God, when we are generous in the face of great sacrifice! Like St. Paul, we can affirm: I am filled with comfort. With all our affliction, I am overjoyed. (2 Cor. 7:4) If we are truly seeking the Lord in our life, nothing can take away our peace and joy. Pain will act to purify the soul. Suffering itself will be transformed to joy. The greatest commandment and joy - Laetetur cor quarentium Dominum… Let the hearts of them rejoice who seek the Lord. The Gospel for today‟s Holy Mass is an invitation to joy because it is an invitation to love. (Matt. 22:34-40) The law of love is also the law of joy. The virtue of joy is not distinct from charity, but a certain act and effect of it. (St. Thomas, op. cit., 2-2, q. 28, a. 3) Our joy and good humor, whether in calm seas or in rough, constitute a trusty barometer of our union with God. The Pharisees approached Jesus to ask Him which is the greatest commandment of the Law. Jesus answered them: You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbor as yourself. This is what we have to do - direct our entire being to God, serve our neighbors, open ourselves to the Lord and forget about ourselves. We have to put aside our longing for ease and comfort, our vanity and our pride. Many people labor under the delusion that they will find greater happiness once they possess a „sufficiency‟ of things, once they achieve popularity or are more admired… They have forgotten that all they need is to have their heart in love. No love can ever fill our heart like the love of God. It is what our hearts were made for. All noble love acquires its true meaning in the context of a radical love for the Lord above all things. He who puts his heart in the things of this world will not find the love Jesus promised to His own. (cf. John 16:22) This is because the worldly person does not know how to love in the deepest sense of the word. Love has its greatest power when it is perfect. Then we forget our own feelings for the sake of the one we love. If this is really the case, if we seek only to please God, then even the greatest of trials will be made sweet. (St. Teresa, Foundations, 5, 10) All trials and tribulations become easy to bear with the help of the Lord. Bringing joy to those whom God has placed by our side - In today‟s Responsorial Psalm we pray: My God is the rock where I take refuge; my shield, my mighty help, my stronghold… I love you, Lord, my strength. (Responsorial Psalm, Ps. 17:2-4; 47; 51) We shall find our strength in God. We will also find our joy and peace there in the Lord. We should go to the Lord personally each day. Much, indeed everything, depends on our friendship with Him. We should bring this joy and peace to those whom God has placed by our side. Our homes should be bright and cheerful, like that of the Holy Family. (cf. J. Escriva, Christ Is Passing By, 22) When people say that a home seems like hell, we immediately think of a home without love, without joy, without Christ. A Christian home should be cheerful because Christ is at its Head. Being disciples of Christ means that we are living those human and supernatural virtues that are so intimately tied to joy: generosity, cordiality, the spirit of sacrifice, sympathy, concern for making life pleasant for others… We should bring our joy to the place where we work, to our business associates, to people we meet by chance on the street… Many of these people are sad and troubled. We should help them to see the joy of living in Christ. How many souls have found their way to God by means of this attractive virtue! Christian joy is also necessary for the proper fulfilment of our ordinary obligations. The more important our duties, the more important is it that our attitude should be one of Christian joy. (cf. P. A. Reggio, Supernatural Spirit and Good Humour, p. 24) When we have responsibility for others, then we have a duty to communicate this joy. Such is the case with parents, priests, spiritual directors, teachers… The smiling face of the Lord should shine through our life and works. His perfect peace was shown during His Passion and Death. Precisely when we find our struggle the more taxing, then it is that we must turn to the poignant example of the Master. Let us turn to Our Mother Mary, „Causa nostrae laetitiae’, Cause of our joy. She will lead us to the path of true peace and joy if we should ever lose our way. We will then understand that the path to joy is the same as the path to God.” (From: In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez) Through the intercession of Mary, Cause of our joy, St. Joseph, St. Columbkill, and all the Holy Angels, may God grant us the gift of being joyful disciples of Christ! In Christ through Mary, Fr. Kasel
I write from Kitui, Kenya. The first week has been ver hectic. I stayed this past weekend with a priest, Fr. Richard Ngutu, in the...
From Kitui, Kenya
October 10, 2014
Growing in our devotion to the Holy Angels
October 5, 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
First, I want to thank you for your prayers while I was on a mission trip to Kitui, Kenya! I think of m...