The Vital Importance of Joy

Father Guibert writes: “Piety crowns its work and completes its benefits by flooding the soul with joy. . . . Man aspires to joy in virtue of an irresistible need: he calls for it by all his powers, he seeks it with all his energies, he flings himself upon it wherever he thinks he can find it. He opens his heart to all that gives him a gleam of it, and he is grieved at everything that disturbs it or that takes it from him. . . . However different may be the sources from which it is drawn, everywhere people wish to have happiness.”

“Joy, by dilating the heart and by the enjoyment that it affords, becomes a force for living. What is living, indeed, if it be not to keep on working, to endure suffering, and to control oneself by virtue? But all this cannot be done without effort, and the effort is of such a nature that the will needs a powerful energy to accomplish it, and, above all, to persevere in it. But a soul without joy has no interior energy; joy alone can stir the heart to action and maintain it therein.”

“Who has not experienced the disastrous consequences of depression? The soul is then plunged in darkness, the heart is drenched with bitterness, and the will is broken with discouragement. Expect no effort from a man who is weary; as long as he is in an enervated condition, he is incapable of any generous action. If, however, temptation come in his way, it will take possession of him, because he is ready to give himself up to the first claimant.”

“But get a ray of joy to penetrate the discouraged spirit; without doing away with duty, work and suffering, which are the inevitable lot of all human existence, pour some drops of gladness into the heart that is loaded with such a burden. Immediately you have life, heartiness, courage and heroism, perhaps because you have light and hope. The blood revives, thoughts arise and noble feelings are awakened, activity develops and effort is exerted.”

“What a responsibility weighs upon those who extinguish joy in a man’s heart, for, in killing joy, they kill life itself. But, on the other hand, what a noble mission it is to rekindle life in the soul by means of joy! He spoke well who said that the best of all alms to give is the giving of happiness.”

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

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