by Fr. Eric Flood, FSSP District Superior
Throughout the liturgical year of the Church, the life of Christ is presented to our minds and hearts so that we are inspired to revolve our life around the life of Our Lord. The glorious feasts of Our Lord, like Easter and Christmas, we celebrate with joyful festivities, but the joy of being Catholic should resound the entire year. During Lent while we remember the sufferings and trials of Our Lord, our joy must radiate amidst our fasting, and no greater day does our heart resound with joy than on the day Our Lord resurrected from the dead.
This joy should permeate our entire lives and overflow into all our actions. Whatever happens throughout the day, we remain content, serene, and joyful. Those who traveled with the great pioneer Priest, Fr. De Smet, said that they never saw him become dismayed at bad weather, harsh conditions, or adversities. He accepted all as coming from the providential hand of God. As a result, his days were filled with peacefulness, even though he witnessed atrocities around him. We learn from Fr. De Smet that if our lives conform to God’s holy will, our reward will be a joy and peacefulness which resides deep in our Soul.
This joy, however, can be destroyed by anger, resentment, and bitterness—especially if these feelings have dwelt in our heart for years. Holding on to grudges and dislikes, harboring vengeful thoughts, and being contentious will take their toll on our Soul. The end result is that the person lacks peace and joy in his life, and he is like a wounded soldier in the Church Militant which only charity can repair.
There is no greater bulwark for our joy than our Catholic Faith. To suffer and to undergo the temptations of this life lose their value if they are not endured out of love for God, our neighbor, or our self. How can we imitate Christ if we live without suffering? How can we imitate Christ if our sufferings are not accompanied with joy? St. Paul reminds us that “whatever shall befall the just man, it shall not make him sad” (Rom. 8:28). Those who love God will remain content and joyful because their entire happiness rests upon the fulfillment of the will of God, even in adversities.
Our role, then, is to have joy not only in our hearts, but to radiate this joy outwardly in our attitude, expressions, and relations with other people. As God’s providential hand is multiplying the number of Latin Masses around the globe, we rejoice that the traditional liturgy can be more easily attended by those desiring to worship the Triune God in this form of Holy Mass.
There are still many faithful clamoring for the Latin Mass in their area, but our hope remains firm that the Latin Mass and the Church’s traditions will regain their vigor in God’s time. It gives those places with the Latin Mass, a reason to rejoice, for it is victory over the evil one every time a Priest ascends the steps of the altar. Likewise Mass is a source of joy for the Souls in attendance as the greatest of all the Sacraments— Holy Eucharist—is the fountain of joy for the Soul. St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that a person is joyful when he is in possession of what he loves, and the end-result for those who love God above all things is that they possess joy in their Soul. So let our joy be seen by all men.
This article originally appeared in the March 2008 North American District Fraternity Newsletter. Click here to receive our free newsletter by mail.