Saint Paul exhorts us with these uplifting words: “Rejoice in the Lord; I say it again: rejoice in the Lord.” (Phil. 4:4).

St. Ignatius of Loyola in the Spiritual Exercises in the fourth week, the week in which we contemplate the Risen Lord Jesus, insists that in contemplating the Risen Lord Jesus who came to console that we beg for joy, but not a partial or mediocre joy but to beg for “most intense joy.”

The first Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, given on November 24th, 2013 on the Solemnity of Jesus Christ the King was “Evangelii Gaudiem”—The Joy Of The Gospel.

His predecessor, Pope Paul VI, penned a spiritual masterpiece, with the title
Gaudete in Domino---On Christian Joy.  This Apostolic Exhortation was promulgated May 9, 1975, the twelfth of his pontificate.   The successor of Peter encourages us to rejoice in the Lord!  Pope Paul VI explains joy as found in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, then in the hearts of the saints, then in the hearts of all people and the young. Especially that year—1975—which was a Jubilee year.  All the world is called to rejoice in the Lord!

Finally Our Lady teaches us in her sublime hymn of praise why we are here on earth and the joy that should radiate from our hearts in her “Magnificat” with these words: “My soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” (Lk. 1:47)

Saint Philip Neri, known as the joyful saint, who was known to carry with him constantly a joke book coined this poetic phrase in Italian: “Tristeza y melancolia, fuera de casa mia”. Translation in English: “Sadness and melancholy, out of my house!”  (No rhyme in English!)

Therefore, let us strive with all of our hearts to live in the joy of the Gospel, the joy of the Risen Jesus, the joy of the saints, and the joy of the Blessed Virgin Mary!    The following are five simple reasons to abound in joy!

1.    THE INDWELLING OF THE TRINITY IN GRACE!  If you are baptized and living in the state of sanctifying grace then the Blessed Trinity is living in the very depths of your soul. The three Divine Persons are living Guests within your inmost being. This reality should catapult you into the heights of joy.  This theology of the “Indwelling” is a hallmark of Carmelite Spirituality—Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Therese of Lisieux, Benedicta of the Cross, Teresa of the Andes, and Elizabeth of the Trinity—to mention a few!

2.    GET A LITTLE HELP FROM YOUR FRIENDS!   The Beatles sang this song in the 60’s.  We can sing it always with a little different interpretation.  Our best of Friends should be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. However, there are countless other friends that we call the “Saints” who are in heaven. Still they long for friendship with those who are still living on earth. Our contact with friends on earth is limited by time, space, and the circumstances of life.  Not so with the saints!  At any time, place, and moment that we so desire we can lift our heart, mind and thoughts to the saints and they are with us. The saints are kind, loving, patient, never in a hurry and always willing and ready to lend us a hand, send us an inspiration and console and encourage us on the highway to holiness. May Saint John Paul II and Saint John XXIII be your constant travelling companions on your heavenly pilgrimage!

3.    DIVINE MERCY!   God is slow to anger and quick to forgive. We all too often are quick to anger and slow to forgive.  What a consoling message it is to have the firm conviction of God’s infinite love and mercy that He has especially for the biggest sinners and the weakest person on the face of the earth. Even though we should daily fight energetically against all enticements to sin, if we fall we should turn back to Our Loving Father immediately  Nunc coepi!”—Now I begin anew!   God forgives us in less than a heartbeat as soon as we beg forgiveness! How great our God is! According to the revelations to Saint Faustina from Jesus the worse sin is the failure to TRUST in God’s loving Kindness and mercy.  May we repeat time and time again:  JESUS I TRUST IN YOU!

4.    HOLY SPIRIT.   There are many beautiful and poetic titles for the Holy Spirit:  Paraclete, Consoler, Counselor, Finger of God, Sanctifier, Uncreated Love, Sweet Guest of the soul”.   The fruits of the Holy Spirit are many and one of these is JOY!  Spend some time reading the Acts of the Apostles and observe how many times the word joy is mentioned. Even when the Apostles were arrested, falsely accused, imprisoned and even beaten for the sake of the Name of Jesus, they rejoiced!  If the Holy Spirit is dwelling in the inner recesses of your heart, joy should be constant and overflowing! Remember the words of the Apostle Paul to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord!  I say it again: rejoice in the Lord!”  With the Holy Spirit always present to you, rejoice in all times and places!

5.     HEAVEN!   The Easter Season is a time of great rejoicing in the Risen Lord Jesus.  It is also a time to reflect upon why Jesus came to earth, lived among us, suffered His bitter Passion and rose from the dead—to give us life and life in abundance.  He Himself said: “I have come to give you life and life in abundance.”  Jesus promised His faithful followers Heaven! “I am going now to prepare a place for you so that where I am you also might be. In my Father’s house there are many mansions.”  What joy to be convinced of the reality that Jesus already has an enormous mansion prepared for me in heaven, and right now!  We should spend more time in meditating on the reality of heaven which is our ultimate destiny. St. Paul reminds us: “the sufferings of the present cannot be compared to the glory that awaits the sons and daughters of God….’ And “Eye has not seen,  ear has not heard nor has it entered into the mind of man the wonderful things that God has prepared for those who love Him.”

CONCLUSION.  Let us lift our heart, mind, soul and gaze to Mary, the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church and our mother, and beg her for a constant and overflowing joy. May her song of praise be ours too: “My soul does magnify the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…”(Lk. 1: 47)