St. Paul exhorts us in his letter to the Philippians to rejoice, not just once but twice: “Rejoice in the Lord; I say it again: rejoice in the Lord.” (Phil. 4:4). Pope Francis’ Apostolic exhortation reiterates the same theme—“The Joy of the Gospel”. St. Francis de Sales remarks on spiritual progress commenting that after sin the worse thing is sadness. St. Ignatius agrees, warning us that when we are in a state of desolation—that is to say sadness and discouragement—that is the moment that we are a prime target for the fiery arrows of the devil.
Why then should we be constantly living in a state of joy? There are many reasons, but we would like to offer ten simple reasons to be rejoicing constantly and exultantly.
1. Baptismal Graces. Once baptized we receive so many graces that we can barely count them. However of primary importance is that through Baptism we establish a deep Friendship with three Divine Persons—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In Baptism God becomes our Father; Jesus becomes our elder Brother; the Holy Spirit becomes both the Sweet Guest of our soul and our best Friend. Rejoice in God’s Friendship!
2. Sanctifying Grace. If we can strive to live in the state of sanctifying grace then the Friendship with God is constant. We are never alone; loneliness becomes alien to our lifestyle. We can close our eyes and seek the God within the depths of our souls. How happy this should make us!
3. Mercy! Even if we fall one hundred times a day, we know that our God is slow to anger and rich in mercy. As soon as our heart beats with the words “Jesus mercy, Jesus forgive me; Jesus I love you”—then once again this treasure of His Friendship is restored and it is sealed in the sacrament of Confession. “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His mercy endures forever.”
4. The Blessed Sacrament. What overflowing and immense joy we should experience in knowing that Jesus said that He would be with us even until the end of the world. Where is He? Response: in the Church. However, most especially He is truly Present (The Real Presence) in the consecrated Host present in all of the Tabernacles of the world. Let us rejoice and come let us adore Him.
5. St Raphael. An invitation: Why not delve into your Bible and go to the Old Testament where you will find a short but truly inspiring book from the Wisdom literature with the title of the Book of Tobit. In this spiritual masterpiece you will find a heart-warming Friend; he is actually one of the three Archangels mentioned in the Bible. His name is Raphael, meaning God heals. One of his special gifts is to befriend us and to fill us with joy. Why not invoke this holy angel every day for nine days (a novena) and you will notice that your sadness will melt as the snow exposed to the midday sun.
6. Saints. Not only should we walk and talk with the Archangel Raphael but we should be in constant contact and communion with the saints. While on earth the saints were the most joyful men and women. However in heaven their joy is boundless. Still they so earnestly long to share their joy, which is their Friendship with God, with us on earth. Call out to them now! By the way, who are your three favorite saints? Beg them to share the joy they experience with you now. Your joy will abound.
7. Heaven. The reality of the existence of Heaven and the knowledge that Jesus has already gone there to prepare a place for you should cause an explosion of joy in your soul right now. Listen to Jesus’ words: “I go now to prepare a place for you so that where I am you also might be. In my Father’s house there are many mansions.” Wow! Jesus has not only prepared a place for you, but a huge, beautiful, spacious, ineffable mansion for you for all eternity. No cracks, dust, ants, cockroaches, leaks, mildew—none of these, but the best of resting places, all this is yours if you simply persevere in grace. Mary, full of grace pray for us!
8. Prayer. If you wanted to talk to some celebrity, President, star, hero, high-class dignitary most likely it would take a year and a day to possibly set up a short meeting. How extraordinary is God’s love for us that in any time, any place, any circumstance that we want to we can talk to God and He is ready to listen and respond. Too often people are too busy and simply do not have time for us—sad to say, even those who should be closest to us! Not so with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They are always at our beck and call. How humble and loving our God is! Rejoice exultantly in the reality of prayer. Why not make a proposal right now to augment your joy: strive to pray a little bit more and a little bit better every day. Your joy will be like the fireworks of the fourth of July
9. God, the Most Generous Giver. In all honesty, and with the most profound humility and deepest sincerity, we should all admit that everything that we have—except the sins that we willfully choose to commit—is a pure gratuitous gift from God. As the Apostle Paul reminds us, quoting one of the Greek poets, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” Thank God constantly for His abundant and ceaseless gifts to you. Have you ever noticed this fact: when you exercise gratitude towards God joy surges in your heart? Try it!
10. Our Lady. Our life, our sweetness and our hope! One of the titles of Mary in her Litany is Cause of our joy. After his death, St Dominic Savio returned appearing to St. John Bosco and told the great saint of the youth that his greatest joy in the short 14 years and 11 months of his life was his great love and affection towards Our Lady. Savio exhorted St. John Bosco to follow that path of promoting love and devotion to Mary. In your life get to know Mary, love Mary, invoke Mary, pray to Mary, consecrate your life to Jesus through Mary and spread devotion to Mary. If you do, then undoubtedly you will experience in the depths of your soul an ineffable joy which will overflow in your life to all those you meet.
In conclusion, friends in Jesus and Mary, let us strive to spread the joy of the Gospel right now and live out a life of constant joy. We might as well get into the habit of rejoicing now in the Lord because we will be rejoicing with exultant joy in heaven for all eternity!