“With a happy and cheerful face, we can prove that the imitation of Christ fills our lives with joy.”
– St. Vincent Pallotti
We live in a celebratory society. We celebrate the birth of a child, the graduation of a student, and the birthday of a friend. In my family, there is always an excuse for a party. This past year, in particular, offered many opportunities for celebrations: the birth of my niece, my Grandma’s 85th birthday, my sister-in-law’s new job, the wedding of two different cousins this past fall, and my own wedding last summer. As a society and in our families, we have parties for holidays, sporting events, and sometimes for no particular reason at all. Why not take those every day celebrations and lead them into a celebration of the life of our faith? Why not live our faith life with joy?
Our Catholic faith is one of celebration; we are an Easter people, a joyful people! In his letter to the Philippians, Paul tells the disciples: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4). We are urged in our faith to rejoice and celebrate all we have been given from God.
In his book Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life, Rev. James Martin, SJ tells a story of meeting the Superior-General of the Jesuits, Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, during his formation. When Martin asks Kolvenbach what the best ways are to increase vocations, the Superior-General replies, “Live your own vocation joyfully.” Martin goes on to say, “Joy attracts people to God. Why would anyone want to join a group of miserable people?” (88). If we are living out our faith joyfully, others will take notice.
We can even look to the saints as examples of how to live our lives joyfully. St. Therese of Lisieux lived her vocation joyfully as a Carmelite nun, doing little acts for those around her; living out her faith in a simple way. St. Francis of Assisi felt that his life was a gift of love and spent his life in thanksgiving for that gift.
No matter what our vocation in life is and no matter what we are facing, we need to remember we are an Easter people and strive to live life with joy. This doesn’t mean that we have to be happy all the time or that there won’t be periods of darkness or indifference. It means that we need to cherish what we have been given, aim to serve others, and celebrate our faith in God.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice.”
Monica Thom Konschnik serves as the Administrator for the Catholic Apostolate Center and the Pallottine Seminary at Green Hill.