A JOYFUL BALANCE
we shall exult and rejoice all our days.
Give us joy to balance our affliction
for the years when we knew misfortune.Excerpt from Psalm 90
In these trying times, it may difficult for one to find joy in life. As Christians, this gift is the hallmark of our response of accepting God's gift of our salvation: Jesus Christ. Do you find your joy in God alone? Or does it depend on the circumstances of the day-if things are going well?
As Secular Carmelites, we can ask ourselves, am I a joyful person? Do I find a positive outlook on challenging situations? Or, do I always find the negative in people and situations? If our prayer life is authentic, the grace of God changes us into peaceful and happy and joyful people, despite the problems we are facing.
St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila) had a famous saying. She stated, "I would run a hundred miles from a sour-faced saint." Wow! Maybe we should be more observant in our daily life. Do people want to run the other way when they see us? Or, do we welcome loved ones and strangers with a smile? I know when I am having a difficult day, sometimes just a smile from a stranger lifts my spirit. Sometimes, that little gift from God is all it takes to "balance our affliction."
Detachment from worldly pleasures can also bring us joy. St. John of the Cross teaches us that beginners find it hard to wean themselves from the pleasure of the senses. This, as we know, can be a life-long battle. But we may ask ourselves if we have been following a life of prayer for a number of years, have we truly begun to detach ourselves from the pleasure of the senses? Do we become irritable when we fast and pray?
|St. Therese was not a sour-faced saint|
We know that the saints gave up sleep and fasted. When was the last time we gave up a little sleep in order to pray? When was the last time (outside of Lent) that we gave up a favorite food or pastime? We want to become saints, but the time is now, not tomorrow. The saints became saints, not because they were faithful to disciplines of the flesh, but because they were faithful to prayer. Prayer leads to the life of virtue. It makes us holy people. Who are holy people? The people who respond in love to their neighbor and who remain joyful about it!
The saints were great evangelizers, maybe not in giving sermons publicly, but their lives were an open book of the Gospels. We can't evangelize if we are unhappy people, for people will not be spiritually attracted to us. Let us pray, that through our life of prayer and service, God transforms us into living charity and joy, a reflection of the kingdom.
God certainly does give us joy to balance the afflictions of daily life. We only need to look around us. The gift of life and the beauty of nature is all around us. The joy and consolation we receive in the Holy Eucharist and the Sacraments is overwhelming when we think about it. We can experience great joy in remembering that God has given us the angels and the saints to help us on our journey, and, most importantly, he has given us his blessed Mother to be our Mother! What great joy to know that she loves us and prays for us!
|Our Lady: Mother of the Church |
cares for each member
Where do you find your joy that God has given you to balance your purification in this life? Look for this joy. Some days it may be harder to see than others, but if we have the gift of faith, we know that God has not left us orphans. He remains with us.
Let us be instruments of God's joy. Let us bring joy to others to balance their affliction, especially to those who are sad and lonely and find life burdensome.
...You changed my mourning into dancing; you took off my sackloth and clothed me with gladness.
The joy in giving oneself to God alone: Carmelite Nuns in Italy
Peace be with you!