"The Joy of the Lord is our strength"|
(2 Esdras 8: 10 or Nehemias 8: 10)
To truly rejoice on this Gaudete Sunday, it is important to realize that the Saints do have more fun for they are graced by the Holy Ghost and are filled with joy because true joy comes from Our Lord
"The joy of the Lord is our strength," says the prophet "Do not give in to sadness, torment not yourself with brooding; gladness of heart is the very life of man, cheerfulness prolongs his days" (Ecclus.30:21,22). Saints have more fun. It's true. The saints enjoy life and have the "peace of God which surpasses all understanding" (Philippians 4:7). "A new study finds those who keep Christ in Christmas have a merrier holiday. 'Religious people seem to have a greater purpose in life, which is why they are happier,' said Dr. Stephen Joseph of the University of Warwick, who conducted the poll" (WorldNetDaily.com, Dec. 12, 2003)."
Editor's Note: In Father Louis Campbell's sermon for the Third Sunday of Advent, he highlights the reasons for rejoicing. Gaudete Sunday is termed thus for it is taken from the first word "Rejoice" in today's Introit from Philippians 4: 4-6. Father points out the great joy those in the state of grace and striving for sanctity experience for Christ is our strength and He is pure joy. Thus it is irrefutable: Forget the blondes, it is the Saints who have more fun! And why not, for their joy is spiritual joy, "a peace which surpasseth all understanding." In the counterfeit conciliar church today this peace is so misunderstood and twisted, looking to humanistic means to find that which is spiritual and only of and from God. Because of the misdirection since Vatican II, this peace and joy are something found so lacking in today's society. Father illustrates through passages of Sacred Scripture not only this joy, but the utter void of joy and inner peace in those who reject God's love here on this temporal earth and for eternity. [bold and italics below are editor's emphasis.]
"Rejoice," says St. Paul in today's Epistle, "For the Lord is near" (Philippians 4:4;5b). In the Gospel St. John the Baptist is joyful because of the presence of the Savior. Dom Gueranger comments: Father Louis J. Campbell
"St. John is full of joy because the Savior has come, but the men around him are as indifferent as though they neither expected nor wanted a Savior. This is the third week of Advent; and are all hearts excited by the great tidings told them by the Church, that the Messias is near at hand? They that love Him not as their Savior, do they fear Him as their Judge? Are the crooked ways being made straight, and the hills being brought low? Are Christians seriously engaged in removing from their hearts the love or riches and the love of sensual pleasures? There is no time to lose: The Lord is nigh!" (Dom Prosper Gueranger, The Liturgical Year).
All human beings are capable of experiencing joy on the natural level, as when you step out into the sun on a December morning in south Texas. This joy becomes particularly acute when you turn on the news and see them shoveling out from under two feet of snow in New York and Boston. Then there is the joy of watching your team win, or of being commended for your good work. But the joy St. Paul talks about today is spiritual joy, which comes from the Holy Ghost. This joy does not fade, as long as one avoids sin, whereas earthly joy is only temporary, and can fade as soon as the clouds come in from the Gulf and it begins to rain.
There is also the fleeting joy experienced through sin, which quickly turns into remorse of conscience. Remorse is your conscience tormenting you because you know you have done wrong. It is not repentance until you are truly sorry for the sin and resolve to confess it. The pleasure of sin lasts but a moment and leaves the soul desolate. True joy is deep down in the soul and does not fade. St. Teresa of Avila was to say that the presence of spiritual joy is the surest sign of the presence of God.
St. Ignatius of Loyola made an important observation when he was confined to a castle to recuperate from injuries suffered in battle. He enjoyed reading stories of romance and adventure, but was left desolate afterwards, whereas when he read the Gospels and the lives of the saints he was left afterwards with spiritual consolation. He remembered this experience later as he wrote his Spiritual Exercises, and his rules for the discernment of spirits.
But what about those who seem to make a career of sin - the serial killers, the abortionists, the rapists and child molesters, those who make money by exploiting the poor, as well as those so steeped in sin that they no longer seek a way out? They have deadened their conscience through repeated sin and are no longer capable of repentance, unless by a special grace from God. According to St. Francis Xavier, "Some people suffer no remorse of conscience because they have not got a conscience."
The psalms confirm this: "Sin speaks to the wicked man in his heart; there is no dread of God before his eyes, for he beguiles himself with the thought that his guilt will not be found out or hated. The words of his mouth are empty and false; he has ceased to understand how to do good. He plans wickedness in his bed; he sets out on a way that is not good, with no repugnance for evil" (Psalm 35 2-5).
But it seems that the remorse returns as sinners face their end. St. Thomas Aquinas says: "Even in the lost the natural inclination to virtue remains, else they would have no remorse of conscience" (Summa Theologica). In fact, we find remorse of conscience among the punishments of Hell, which include the loss of God for all eternity, and the presence of the devil and the fallen angels, according to the words of Jesus: "Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels" (St. Matthew 25:41); the remorse of conscience: "Their worm does not die" (St. Mark 9:48); and darkness and despair: "Bind his hands and feet and cast him forth into the darkness outside, where there will be the weeping, and the gnashing of teeth" (St. Matthew 22:13).
Holy Scripture vividly describes the fate of the wicked: "Say not: 'I am hidden from God; in Heaven who remembers me?… If I sin, no eye will see me; if all in secret I am disloyal, who is to know?'" (Ecclus. 16: 15;19). "This is the way of those who trust in folly, the end of those contented with their lot: like sheep they are herded into the nether world; death is their shepherd, and the upright rule over them. Quickly their form is consumed: the nether world is their palace" (Psalm 48:14,15). "You set them, indeed, on a slippery road; you hurl them down to ruin. How suddenly they are made desolate! They are completely wasted away amid horrors" (Psalm 72:18-19).
"My son," says the wise man, "if you have sinned, do so no more, and for your past sins pray to be forgiven. Flee from sin as from a serpent that will bite you if you go near it; its teeth are lion's teeth, destroying the souls of men. Every offense is a two-edged sword; when it cuts, there can be no healing… He who hates correction walks the sinner's path, but he who fears the Lord repents in his heart" (Ecclus. 21: 1-3;6).
"The joy of the Lord is our strength," says the prophet "Do not give in to sadness, torment not yourself with brooding; gladness of heart is the very life of man, cheerfulness prolongs his days" (Ecclus. 30: 21,22). Saints have more fun. It's true. The saints enjoy life and have the "peace of God which surpasses all understanding" (Philippians 4:7). "A new study finds those who keep Christ in Christmas have a merrier holiday. 'Religious people seem to have a greater purpose in life, which is why they are happier,' said Dr. Stephen Joseph of the University of Warwick, who conducted the poll" (WorldNetDaily.com, Dec. 12, 2003).
The Gospel of St. Luke is the Gospel of joy: "For behold," said Elizabeth, "the moment that the sound of thy greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leapt for joy" (St. Luke 1: 44"); "And Mary said, 'My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior'" (St. Luke 1:46,47); "And the angel said to them (the shepherds), 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be to all the people" (St. Luke 2:10); and "At that very hour He (Jesus) rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, 'I praise Thee, Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and prudent, and didst reveal them to little ones'>" (St. Luke 10: 21).
We who also believe in the Son have confidence that through repentance and humility like that of Mary and the saints we may also rejoice in the Lord's coming, "for joy of the Lord is our strength" (Nehemias [2 Esdras] 8:10).
vol 14, no. 40
"Qui legit, intelligat"
Father Louis Campbell's Sunday Sermons