Friday, July 02, 2010

Perfect joy?

Servant of God, if you apply yourself to acquiring and preserving, both in heart and demeanour, that joy which comes from a pure heart and is won by devotion to prayer, the devils can do you no harm. They say, 'This servant of God is as happy when things are going badly as when all is well, and so we cannot find an opening to enter him and hurt him.

St. Francis of Assisi
We as Tertiaries, rejoicing in the Lord always, show in our lives the grace and beauty of divine joy. We remember that we follow the Son of Man, who came eating and drinking, Who loved the birds and the flowers, Who blessed little children, Who was a friend to tax collectors and sinners and Who sat at the tables of both the rich and the poor. We delight in fun and laughter, rejoicing in God’s world, its beauty and its living creatures, calling nothing common or unclean. We mix freely with all people, ready to bind up the broken-hearted and to bring joy into the lives of others. We carry within us an inner peace and happiness which others may perceive, even if they do not know its source.

This joy is a divine gift, coming from union with God in Christ. It is still there even in times of darkness and difficulty, giving cheerful courage in the face of disappointment, and an inward serenity and confidence through sickness and suffering. Those who possess it can rejoice in weakness, insults, hardships, and persecutions for Christ’s sake; for when they are weak, then they are strong.

The Principles of the Third Order, Society of St. Francis, 28, 29
I think this is what I was trying to say in my earlier post. However hard, even unbearable, we may find the misfortunes that all of us encounter from time to time, we are not defeated as long as our refuge is in God, in the boundless mercy of Christ. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, "To endure the cross is not tragedy; it is the suffering which is the fruit of an exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ."

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