“Let anyone who comes to you go away feeling better and happier. Everyone should see goodness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile. Joy shows from the eyes. It appears when we speak and walk. It cannot be kept closed inside us. It reacts outside. Joy is very infectious. ” St. Teresa of Calcutta
In a time of pandemic where we are inundated with talk of infection rates, precautions, sacrifice and loss, joy most likely is not the first thing that comes to mind. Yet, today it could very well be the very thing needed most. The masks that we wear these days, and the social distancing required provide layer upon layer of separation between ourselves and one another. While so many of our previous day to day activities are altered by a new way of interacting or impossible altogether.
Rediscovering the source of our joy…
Do we find our joy merely a response to events beyond us where we are tossed about to and fro, circumstance dependent, or is there a deeper well we draw from? As St. Teresa of Calcutta so aptly notes life sustaining joy comes from within. It is so deep and brimming that it cannot help but overflow outside ourselves. So much so that even in the “midst of a very severe trial” and suffering it can be seen spilling out and soaking all those around with unprecedented actions of generosity and love. (2 Cor 8:2)
This we have witnessed throughout this pandemic, seemingly unprompted selfless caring acts of delivering food, making masks, and donating hard to find items to those most vulnerable. “How can I help? I have been laid off, but am able to make a trip to the grocery store for someone who cannot get out.” “Does anyone have fabric to donate…I can sew and would love to help anyway I can.” Over the last few months, volunteers have provide outreach to over 800 seniors in my collaborative alone. Joy, experienced by both the giver and recipient alike multiplied endlessly.
Make no mistake, however, though joy is found within, it not self-created or increased by our actions alone. Given our human limitations, joy must be sourced by that which is greater than ourselves. Otherwise our store of joy, shallow and unprotected quickly soon becomes depleted. As St. Paul points out time and time again, as believers we have access to abundant joy through the power of the Holy Spirit when we place our trust in God and walk in love. (1 Th 1:6; Rom 15:13)
“Joy shows from the eyes”
Early mornings he briskly advances up the steps of St. Paul’s, with rosary and Magnificat in hand. “Good morning Elizabeth, how are you?”
“I am well and you? I respond adding “Wow, you never come to Mass without that wonderful smile!”
“How can you tell…We are both wearing masks?”, he quizzically inquired.
“Oh, it is unmistakable! For, you can see it in your eyes!”, as my smile uncontrollably returned his.
Where do I seek joy? Am I finding joy difficult to keep or in short supply lately? If so, how can it be renewed and shared with those around me?
The Saints on Joy:
- God made us for joy. God is joy, & the joy of living reflects the original joy that God felt in creating us. Pope John Paul II
- The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything. God is the ground, the substance,
the teaching, the teacher, the purpose, and the reward for which every soul labors. Julian of Norwich
- No man truly has joy unless he lives in love. St. Thomas Aquinas
- As for joy, as little as one can have of it in this life, experience shows that it is not the idle who possess it, but those who are zealous in the service of God. Ignatius of Loyola
- Her heart is full of joy with love, for in the Lord her mind is stilled. She has renounced every selfish attachment and draws abiding joy and strength from the One within. She lives not for herself, but lives to serve the Lord of Love in all, and swims across the sea of life breasting its rough waves joyfully. Teresa of Avila
Joy, with peace, is the sister of charity. Serve the Lord with laughter. Pio of Pietrelcina