The Source of Joy

Father Guibert asks, Whence comes joy? He observes: “It does not come from outside, but it springs up within the soul. . . . Worldly festivities and sensual pleasures do not contain it; they intoxicate the senses and they make the soul dizzy for a time, but they leave emptiness behind them, and regret and moral suffering. . . . The flatteries of men weave crowns that quickly fade; the noise of their applause is soon over, whilst the silence that follows is both very long and very deep. Riches bring, on their part, anxiety and fear; the gleam of gold is not the sweet ray of happiness.”

“As a fair offset to this, the world is as powerless to take away joy as to give it. The brute forces of nature may cripple us, but they cannot make us despond, if we ward their blows from our hearts. And it is the same with the persecutions of men, whether they fling the darts of their words at us, or stir themselves against our interests, or chill the social atmosphere in which we live by their antipathy. All external disturbances leave us untouched so long as we are masters of our own hearts and protect them from such attacks.”

“Joy is within us: there it takes its rise, and expands, and is consummated. Joy is, indeed, the fruit of peace—not the false peace of indifference. . . . Give peace to the mind, by luminous convictions on the essential problems of life. Give peace to the heart, by setting it free from the snares in which it gets taken, and by arming it against deceits and treacheries. Give peace to the imagination, by delivering it from the fatal fancies that so often disturb it. Give peace to the senses, by regulating their activity according to reason. Give peace to the will, by maintaining its aptitude for effort in the face of difficulties. And, lastly, give peace to the conscience, by the testimony of never being consciously false to duty. By this universal peace you will have produced joy within you. At least, let this peace reign to some extent by frequent victories, and joy will have made its entry into your soul.”

Quotations from Jean Guibert, On Piety (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1911).

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