MOSAIC Spring 2014 - Page 9

“St. Teresa of Avila once said, ‘God save us from gloomy saints!’” 3 Speech Jesus tells us in Luke 6:45, “From the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks.” If our hearts are filled with joy, we will speak differently from those whose hearts are embittered, cynical, or burdened with sadness. Our speech will be more alive, more truthful, more charitable, and less prone to sarcasm, gossip, detraction, cynical pessimism, or melancholy. 4 Laughter A well-known song by the musician Billy Joel features the lyric, “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints. The sinners are much more fun.” With all due respect to Mr. Joel, this lyric expresses a popular misconception regarding which experiences in life are more enjoyable: those spent doing virtuous activities with virtuous people (who, nevertheless, are also sinners), or doing whatever one pleases with those who are not interested in virtue. Saints do not spend their days in tears, though life contains its share of sorrow. Saints, rather, know how to laugh because in good times and bad they know the joy of being God’s sons and daughters and of the Spirit dwelling within. They know how to laugh at what is truly humorous without becoming superficial jokesters who trivialize life. One mark of the saints is they know how to laugh at themselves, rejoicing in the blessed irony that God loves and saves us even though we are so weak and, sometimes, foolish. 2 6 Attraction While it is true, as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta has said, that our mission is to be faithful rather than successful, it is also true that “God wills everyone to be saved”(1 Tm 2:4) and that Jesus sends his disciples out to “make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). If I find I am not attracting anyone else to share our life in Christ, then perhaps it is because I do not have the joy of the gospel. People find joy attractive. They want to spend their time with joyful people. They often will imitate those who are joyful, so they can share in that joy. 7 5 2 Gratitude While I’m quoting from popular music, here is the lyric from a song made famous by Louis Armstrong: “When you’re smilin’. . . the whole world smiles with you.” It is great to have joy within us, but it will be of much greater benefit to others if we communicate joy to them. St. Teresa of Avila, perhaps in a moment of exasperation at having seen too little joy on the faces of her fellow Christians, once said, “God save us from gloomy saints!” Something as simple as a smile can give witness to the goodness of God and his gifts to us. A smile can help others to smile at what God has done for them. “I realize of course that joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty,” Pope Francis writes (EN, no. 6). The Holy Father offers us a realistic sense about what joy should “look like,” but the key is that we do in fact hold fast to the joy God has given us in all of life’s seasons. Knowing the joy of the gospel, remaining grateful at all times for the gifts God has given to us, and embracing the crosses that lie in our path, we learn to trust God’s plan for our lives. In good times and bad, we praise and thank our heavenly Father for his goodness and for the gift of his Son Jesus, who tells us he came “so that your joy may be complete” (Jn 15:11). U Smiling Fr. Charles Fox serves on the formation faculty of Sacred Heart Major Seminary. Spring 2014 n Sacred Heart Major Seminary 7