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St. Paul on joy

Posted By July 11, 2011 | 3:48 pm | Spiritual
St. Paul on joy

By Father John Catoir

Catholic News Service

St. Paul wrote that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,” against which “there is no law” (Gal 5:22-23).

This fundamental truth tells us that, for example, if we want to be a more joyful person, we must learn to invoke the Holy Spirit right from the beginning.

Why? Because spiritual joy is the infallible sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

With God’s help, it is possible to live a more joyful life. After we accept the gift of joy, which God gave us at our baptism, we must strive to put on a grateful heart.

A grateful heart enables us to shed our old habits of self-pity and fear. God wants us to change our ways by rejecting negative emotions and by training ourselves to choose joy over sorrow.

I see a need to stress over and over again that a truly joyful life is possible only when you are able to control your thoughts and reject your toxic thinking!

This idea of controlling your thoughts is the most challenging aspect of the spiritual life — and one that people ask me about continually. To do it correctly, you have to clear your mind of all kinds of toxic thinking, such as fear, resentment, hatred, vindictiveness and on and on.

It’s a big order, I know, but the goal is worth it.

Fear is indeed the enemy of joy.

Jesus said, “Do not be afraid” (Mt 28:10). Learning how to reduce fear to an acceptable level, however, will take time.

Grace builds on nature. It will take a strong will, a grateful heart and a clear mind to rid oneself of toxicity, living joyfully because of the knowledge of God’s love.

In my book “Enjoy Your Precious Life,” I try to deal with the how-to in more detail.

The words “happiness” and “joy” are closely related, but they are not exactly the same.

In the strict sense, happiness comes to us more from the gratification of our senses, whereas joy comes from within the soul. Happiness fades quickly because it only gratifies our sense for a little while, whereas joy abides in the soul forever.

We crave good food and music; we need warmth on a cold day; we love the smell of clean, fresh air and the sight of a beautiful sunset. These are good, but the fullness of happiness requires something more, namely the joy of the Holy Spirit abiding in our heart.

Sensual happiness and inner joy combine to bring us the fullness of joy here on earth.

St. Augustine was right when he said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, O Lord”; nevertheless, we can still experience true joy here on Mother Earth.

We hear the Lord assuring us that “in the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world” (Jn 16:33).

Joy is the simplest form of gratitude, and it is the greatest honor we can give to Almighty God.

Be at peace, then, and try to live joyfully because of the knowledge of God’s love.

I offer this little article as a personal gift of love. Please stop sabotaging your chances for greater happiness and learn to control your fears.

Joy is the gift of God’s love, and it is already yours.

Clear away the rubble. Decide to smile more and complain less. Make God happy by being grateful “in all circumstances” (1 Thes 5:16).