St. Josemaria's Secret to Joy – EpicPew

St. Josemaria’s Secret to Joy

St. Josemaria Escriva was no stranger to suffering. Despite this, he continuously preached on the importance of cheerfulness and the christian’s call to joy. He said “the children of God should always be sowers of peace and joy” (Furrow 59).

What is Cheerfulness?

First we need to know what kind of joy Josemaria was talking about. We often think of cheerfulness as sacrine positivity or naive optimism but this is not what he meant. This is how the saint defines the virtue:

“The cheerfulness you should have is not the kind we might call physiological good spirits — the happiness of a healthy animal. You must seek something more: the supernatural happiness that comes from the abandonment of everything and the abandonment of yourself into the loving arms of our Father-God.”

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When we abandon ourselves and all we have to our Heavenly Father we can have the sort of joy that comes from knowing we are loved and cared for. This is the joy of the saints. When we fully trust God, we have no reason to be fearful or sad.

The Source of Our Joy

Our cheerfulness has a foundation too. It is based in the reality of Jesus Christ and his Resurrection. Easter is the highest feast of the year and the focal point of our faith.

Photo by Pisit Heng on Unsplash

“Easter is a time of joy — a joy not confined to this period of the liturgical year, but to be found really and fully in the Christian’s heart. For Christ is alive. He is not someone who has gone, someone who existed for a time and then passed on, leaving us a wonderful example and a great memory. No, Christ is alive.”

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The joy of Easter is palpable: bright flowers, triumphant hymns, family feasts. It is a taste of the joy of Heaven. Our whole lives should be leavened with the joy of knowing Jesus lives.

Cheerful Despite it All

We are called to be cheerful even when we face suffering and sorrow. St. Josemaria himself was no stranger to suffering. As a priest, he was persecuted during the Spanish Civil War living as a wanted man while fellow priests were martyred. To escape he crossed the Pyrenees mountains. Yet, he continued to speak of joy with a cheerful spirit.

“Christians, if they really behave as God’s children, will suffer discomfort, heat, tiredness, cold… But they will never lack joy, because that — all that! — is ordained or permitted by Him who is the source of true happiness.”

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When our joy comes from God, we can be cheerful even when worldly circumstances give us every reason to despair. So how did St. Josemaria keep up his joy in the midst of these struggles? How can we maintain cheerfulness in the face of negativity?

“With crystal clarity I see the formula, the secret of happiness, both earthly and eternal. It is not just a matter of accepting the Will of God but of embracing it, of identifying oneself with it — in a word, of loving the Divine Will with a positive act of our own will.—This, I repeat, is the infallible secret of joy and peace.”

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Assenting to God’s will in our life changes our whole perspective. When we know that all we experience is part of His Will, the Will of One who loves us completely, we understand that He will use it for our good and that despite setbacks, pain and our own failings He is at work.

That’s not where our joy ends though. Knowing the secret is only half the story.

Sharing Our Joy

True cheerfulness is intriguing and authentic joy is meant to be shared. If we have found the secret to joy and happiness surely we will want others to know it too.

“This is what the first Christians were, and this is what we have to be: sowers of peace and joy, the peace and joy that Jesus has brought to us”.

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Header image by Jacqueline Munguía on Unsplash.