It’s been said a million times that this is a difficult, uncertain, and scary time in history. And it’s true! But there have been many times throughout history where people experienced fearful and destructive times, but maintained joy rather than giving in to despair. While happiness is dependent on circumstances, joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. And many saints show us through their example how to retain their joy even in the midst of suffering.
Fr. Rocky, Executive Director/CEO of Relevant Radio® stopped by Trending with Timmerie recently to discuss St. Josemaría Escrivá, a saint who is very important to him and showed him how to find joy no matter one’s circumstances.
Fr. Rocky explained, “The joy that he got was the joy of knowing he was a son of God, living in a state of grace. Close to Christ, with a great sense of the presence of God and an awareness of the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, and the guardian angels.”
Often we think of joy as something that happens to us, something we can’t control. But that’s because we are looking for joy in things that are fleeting. St. Josemaría found his joy in being close to Christ, and encouraged others to seek Christ, the source of all joy, in their own lives.
Fr. Rocky shared that St. Josemaría would often give away spiritual books, and inscribe on the books “May you seek Christ. May you find Christ. May you love Christ.”
Fr. Rocky explained, “In a sense, that’s the plan for one’s entire life. And that’s really what we need to ask ourselves. Especially if we are vexed, worried, depressed, or upset. The question we should ask is: Am I seeking Christ?”
But that doesn’t mean that in order to find joy we need to lock ourselves in a room and devote our entire day to prayer. While we certainly seek Christ in prayer, we also find him in the service of others.
“In a sense, in our life it really comes down to I’m seeking Christ or I’m seeking myself,” said Fr. Rocky. “And we can seek Christ by seeking him in service to others. For [St. Josemaría] the great ideal was service. And if the service could be done and people didn’t know who did it, all the better. And he picked that up from the teachings of Christ, who said ‘I have not come to be served, but to serve.'”
Another barrier to finding joy is believing that joy and sorrow or pain cannot exist at the same time. But saints like St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Paul Miki and Companions, and St. Gemma Galgani show us that even in the face of suffering and death, our hope in Christ and eternal life is a reason to always be joyful.
“It calls for a deeper trust in Christ,” Fr. Rocky acknowledged. “There’s Mary at the foot of the Cross. She’s sorrowful, but she’s not overwhelmed because she had meditated on the words of Our Lord, she knew this wasn’t the end of it. And we have that faith. That no matter how bad the suffering is (and frankly, sometimes the suffering is really, really hard and we need to acknowledge that) but we always have hope that there is something better that the Lord has in store for us. Which is the fruit of his grace and, ultimately, eternal life.”
Listen to the full conversation below: