I’ve been doing some reading and reflecting on joy lately. After all, as Christians we believe in the Good News. Doesn’t that imply joy? For today’s post, I have strung together some of my favorite quotations about joy from a wide variety of writers. I would be interested in knowing if any of these resonate with your own experience or simply touch your heart.
1. “Joy is the inner sense of God’s presence and God’s abiding love for us. It is a profound belief that God will have the last word; it is a still point in the storm of life.” William Bausch
2. “If you do not convey joy in your demeanor and gestures and speech, you will not be an authentic witness for Jesus Christ. Delight in what God is doing is essential in our work.” Eugene Peterson
3. “Joy frees. Joy makes a person dangerous.” Joan Chittister, OSB
4. “In the early stages (of the spiritual life), one should strive to feel happy and free. There are some people who think that devotion will slip away if they relax a little.” St. Teresa of Avila
5. This was said by a professional mountaineer, but I think it also applies to living in general: “The best climber in the world is the one who’s having the most fun.” Alex Lowe
6. “At our best and wisest we just want joy, and when we are filled with grace we see rich thick joy in the simplest of things. Joy everywhere.” Brian Doyle
7. “The poor deserve not just service and dedication, but also the joy that belongs to human love.” St. Teresa of Calcutta
8. “The only condition for joy is the presence of God. Joy happens when God is present and people know it, which means it can erupt in a depressed economy, in the middle of a war, and in an intesive care waiting room.” Barbara Brown Taylor
9. Buddha said over 2,500 years ago: “Seeker, empty the boat, lighten the load, be free of craving and judgment and hatred, and feel the joy of the way.”
10. “Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
11. “Joy is God in the marrow of our bones.” Eugenia Price
12. “Perhaps the most neglected line of the Gospels is the injunction of the Matthean Jesus, ‘Do not look dismal.’ … Jesus’ ministry was not distinguished by desert fasts but by table fellowship… And the foremost scriptural symbol for heaven is not beatific vision but a festive party… For Jesus, repentance itself is a joyous occasion and calls for celebration.” John Shea
13. “The foolish person seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows happiness under his feet.” James Oppenheim
14. “We all should put this sign on our bathroom mirror: You are looking at the person who is primarily responsible for your happiness.” Anonymous
15. In 2014, Pope Francis gave an interview in which he gave his “Top Ten Tips for Happiness.” Here are four of them: 1) “Happiness lies in giving ourselves away to others.” 2) “Have a healthy sense of leisure. Never lose the pleasures of art, literature, and playing with children.” 3) “Respect and take care of nature. Our salvation is tied to the way we treat the earth.” and 4) “Stop being negative. Positive thoughts feed happiness and healthy self-esteem.”
16. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice.”(Phil. 4: 4). Remember: St. Paul wrote these words from prison. He was cut off from his community, his friends… he was cut off from his work, his ministry… and his heart was breaking. Yet, he could write these words!
Did any of these quotes speak to you and your own experience? If so, which one(s)?
What are some things that help you to be a joyful person?
What are some of the greatest challenges to joy in today’s world?
Would you like to add anything to this reflection on Christian joy?
PS: Thank you for your prayers for the retreat I facilitated at St. Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith, Arkansas. I thank the Sisters for their warm hospitality, their prayerfulness, their joy. It was a blessing walking with them last week. I thank especially Sr. Cecelia who helped me in so many ways throughout the week. A special joy for me personally was visiting the grave of Sr. Macrina Wiederkehr who passed away in 2020. She reached out to me years ago, saying, “We writers have to stick together.” I am most grateful for her example and the wisdom she shared with the world through her many writings.
PS: On this Memorial Day weekend, let us remember in prayer all those who gave their lives in service of our country. We must keep their memories alive. And I wish you and your loved ones a Happy Memorial Day celebration.
Here’s an intriguing video called “Joy” by King and Country, a popular contemporary Christian group. I’m offering two videos. The first is the official music video—but it has no captions. I’ve listed a few lines from the song after the video. The second version is just the song with the lyrics.
Gotta get the fire, fire back in my bones
Before my heart, my heart turns to stone.
The time has come to make a choice and I choose joy.
Oh hear my prayer tonight, I’m singing to the sky.
Give me strength to raise my voice, let me testify…
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of the night,
Oh, with you by my side, I’m stepping into the light. I choose joy…
Here’s the lyric video:
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