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Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Sunflower Seeds

Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Christian Joy

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!

For reflection:

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:

I invite you to write a comment below… we all love hearing from our readers!

22 Responses

  1. Good morning, Sr. Melannie and happy Memorial day!

    Around these parts the weather has been glorious! Okay, so another blog post I will have to print so that I can better reflect upon the words about joy contained within! Here are my top three — 2, 4, and 6. I also like Barbara Brown Taylor’s (8). I need to read more of her!

    That video is so cool! I will definitely send it to the person in charge of ministry where I teach. And speaking of teaching, the three words every teacher should bring with them into a classroom are “passion, presence, and JOY!!!”

    Thank you!

  2. “This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 This verse is frequently suggested to me in the morning. I had to look it up.:)

  3. Good morning Sister and fellow readers,
    I was particularly drawn to Brian Doyle’s exclamation of Joy as “rich thick.” My imagination is going wild with this image!
    This wonderful reveal leads me to ask, “What parts of my life bring this rich thick Joy and where and how can I discover more to cultivate?”
    My simple answer is through prayer and gratitude. Praise God at all times with a rich thick Joy and blessings to all.

    1. Dear Joanne, I too am fond of Brian Doyle’s comment. Indeed, I’m fond of just about everything that man wrote. When he died a few years ago at a young age, we lost a wise, spiritual voice. Thanks for your words! Melannie

  4. Sr. Melannie, thank you for this reminder to choose joy! I loved the song and the video! I want to recommend to you and your readers a book called The Book of Joy, by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It is a wonderful inspiring read. As are all of your weekly blog posts! Thank you!

    1. Dear Ellen, I recently read “The Book of Joy” you refer to. I was very impressed with their conversations with each other–and with their strong friendship over the years. Thanks for the recommendation! Melannie

  5. Number 9 and 16 pull at my heart. My face doesn’t show the joy I feel on the inside, but I am more calm now that joy resides within me. Thank you , Sister for the wisdom and light you bring with your blog. Mondays aren’t the same without reading your blog.

  6. I love number 10 and 11 and then the one by Pope Francis, really all of them are good! I do especially think that if a person is really spiritual, they are also joyful!
    P.S. For some reason, I have not been receiving your blog, Sunflower Seeds. I hope I am back on the list.

    1. I feel joy in being able to read your blogs. I liked number 1 in your list. I feel joy in the beginning of prayer’ Oh God King of my universe. I feel joy in the words‘Good morning this is God I will be handling all your problems today. looking at the sky with all the beautiful clouds fills me with joy that Jesus created this beautiful world for us, it’s where I like to pray, and to ask Jesus to lead me today to where He wants me to go to bring glory to Him. I felt joy in seeing the picture of the of the girl with the flower, both made by God. I feel joy that God gave us you to share. Thanks Melanie.

      1. Dear Maureen, Thank you for sharing some of the things that stood out for you in today’s blog. I like hearing God say to me, “I will be handling all your problems today.” That takes faith to believe that… And I feel joy when readers like you add to my blog! Thanks again, Maureen! Melannie

    2. Dear Georgia, I know many of you are still not receiving my blog. I assure you that we are working on up-dating everything. The IT people suspect I just had too many subscribers and the current system could not support that many. I guess that’s a “nice problem” to have. But I hope we fix this glitch sooooon! Melannie

  7. Good morning Sister,
    I am still not receiving your blog and I really miss it, I am hoping I can get back on the list to receive.
    Thank you and have a great day/week!

  8. “Joy is the barometer of the soul. Its degree indicates the degree of love.” (Written to me from my high school music teacher on the back of a holy card, 49 years ago – and I’ve never forgotten it!)

    1. Dear Char, Wow! Not only am I impressed by the quote you shared, but I’m also impressed that you have kept a holy card from your high school music teacher all these years! Thanks for sharing it with us! Melannie

      1. Dear Melannie –
        I didn’t keep the holy card, but I DID keep the memory of that quote which is so resonant and touched and touches me deeply.
        – Char 🙂

  9. I’ve had a tough week due to a health problem. The music and video were just what I needed to bring Joy to my heart. Thank you, sister

  10. Am a week behind, but wanted to tell you that I found myself humming or singing a song my children learned in Religious Ed…”I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, down in my heart, down in my heart, today” after this throughout the day. I also loved the song you provided and added it to my play list.

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Hi and welcome to my blog! I’m Sister Melannie, a Sister of Notre Dame residing in Chardon, Ohio, USA. I’ve been very lucky! I was raised in a loving family on a small farm in northeast Ohio. I also entered the SNDs right after high school. Over the years, my ministries have included high school and college teaching, novice director, congregational leadership, spiritual direction, retreat facilitating, and writing. I hope you enjoy “Sunflower Seeds” and will consider subscribing below. I’d love to have you in our “sunflower community.” Thank you!

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