A special joy...

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Recently I was experiencing a certain sadness at how “few” seem interested in growing spiritually. Today I came across a portion of an Address written by Pope Emeritus (Benedict XVI). In his “simple and profound way”, he expressed a “special joy” that went deep into my soul. Here is the excerpt I read and the underlined portion which especially blessed me:

“The risen Lord instructed his apostles, and through them his disciples in all ages, to take his word to the ends of the earth and to make disciples of all people,” retired Pope Benedict wrote. "‘But does that still apply?’ many inside and outside the church ask themselves today. ‘Is mission still something for today? Would it not be more appropriate to meet in dialogue among religions and serve together the cause of world peace?’ The counter-question is: ‘Can dialogue substitute for mission?’

“In fact, many today think religions should respect each other and, in their dialogue, become a common force for peace. According to this way of thinking, it is usually taken for granted that different religions are variants of one and the same reality,” the retired pope wrote. "The question of truth, that which originally motivated Christians more than any other, is here put inside parentheses. It is assumed that the authentic truth about God is in the last analysis unreachable and that at best one can represent the ineffable with a variety of symbols. This renunciation of truth seems realistic and useful for peace among religions in the world.

“It is nevertheless lethal to faith. In fact, faith loses its binding character and its seriousness, everything is reduced to interchangeable symbols, capable of referring only distantly to the inaccessible mystery of the divine,” he wrote.

The address emphasized that the proclamation of Jesus Christ is not about gaining “as many members as possible for our community, and still less in order to gain power. … We speak of him because we feel the duty to transmit that joy which has been given to us”. (-- delivered on October 21, 2014 to faculty and students of Pontifical Urbanian University in Rome)

+JMJ+

Right on! In fact, it is this special joy that we need if we are to grow spiritually, because it is this joy that we need to love God.

Indeed, St. Thomas Aquinas describes charity (the virtue of divine love) as “the fellowship of everlasting happiness.” As he so eloquently explained:

…the friendship of charity is based on the fellowship of happiness. Now, in this fellowship, one thing is considered as the principle from which happiness flows, namely God; a second is that which directly partakes of happiness, namely men and angels; a third is a thing to which happiness comes by a kind of overflow, namely the human body.

Now the source from which happiness flows is lovable by reason of its being the cause of happiness: that which is a partaker of happiness, can be an object of love for two reasons, either through being identified with ourselves, or through being associated with us in partaking of happiness, and in this respect, there are two things to be loved out of charity, in as much as man loves both himself and his neighbor.

newadvent.org/summa/3025.htm#article12

Maria Christi quoted Pope Benedict (The great Joe Ratzinger) as saying,

"The address emphasized that the proclamation of Jesus Christ is not about gaining “as many members as possible for our community, and still less in order to gain power. … We speak of him because we feel the duty to transmit that joy which has been given to us”. (-- delivered on October 21, 2014 to faculty and students of Pontifical Urbanian University in Rome)

There really is a joy. A lady I was with today told us the story of a cure of a horrendously burned child. I said “Praise God,” as a spontaneous ejaculation. She praised God too. Then the man we were with gave us very odd looks. But loving God just sometimes happens like that.

I really wish I knew how to evangelize better, and maybe I can study on that.:blush:

Thank you for this. I have also felt sad about how few people seem interested in the faith, especially since I have recently returned to the Church. " A special joy" is a precise term for my new faith. His emphasis on this joy over the number of companions really puts its importance in perspective. It’s a truth I’ve felt in my heart but have failed to act on. This brilliant and simple reminder helps.

I do too. I just finished reading Saint Augustine’s " On Christian Teaching" and it helped a lot in case I ever evangelize. It’s also a masterpiece of theology and sign theory, which would further fuel the evangelization process. I recommend it if you haven’t read it already.

Dear nuntym,

Thanks for your reply. Truly God is the source of all happiness. The words of Pope Emeritus (Benedict XVI) which I quoted gave me a particular joy because in his unique way, this Pope has always been for me such a clear and simple light into the most profound truth. Let me repeat his words:

…We speak of him because we feel the duty to transmit that joy which has been given to us

God so loved the world that He gave us His Son Jesus. He is our Joy and He has been given to us that we share Him with all our brothers and sisters in the human family. It is God’s Love in Christ which compels us, so that “we feel the duty to transmit that joy which has been given to us”.

Dear Weejee,

Ask for that grace from God. Pray to the Holy Spirit Who brings us into the complete Truth (John 16:13). Listen more and more prayerfully to the Gospel, for God reveals Himself in His Word and we cannot share Him if we do not know Him. Jesus told us:

…If you remain in my Word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. (John 8:31 - 32)

I recommend a good Catholic commentary such as the Navarre series and also the Catechism of the Catholic Church to help you in your prayerful study of Scripture. Writings of the saints can also aid us, but their first resource is always Scripture. :slight_smile:

By God’s Grace, we need to remain in God’s Word, becoming disciples ourselves in order to make disciples of others. May Mary, Star of the New Evangelization guide you, growing in your love for God as she did on this earth. Pope Emeritus’ words are beautifully simple and powerful at the same time:

…We speak of him because we feel the duty to transmit that joy which has been given to us

I found another translation for that sentence which also blessed me:

…“Joy is to be communicated,” he said. Not for the purpose of “having in our community the greatest possible number of members," or “for power,” but because love lived in joy “is the genuine proof of the truth of Christianity.”

Dear HoistedSheep,

Thanks for your reply. I continue to feel sad, even as Jesus wept over Jerusalem, yet Pope Emeritus’ words helped me to put alongside my sadness, the incomprehensible Mystery of God’s Love and the joy of knowing Him. Our faith is a Gift and our continuing growth in faith, hope and above all charity is such a mysterious work of His Grace and our cooperation with His Grace.

Our Blessed Mother is truly the Star of the New Evangelization because she is both Mother and Model for all those who are seeking Truth in the midst of a world full of lies and darkness. She endured all the darkness of Calvary never losing her faith, hope and charity. Our Blessed Mother intercedes for us now that we too will keep our eyes on Jesus learning from her as she learned from Jesus: to love as He loves, and experience the joy of sharing His Love with others.

While I am immensely interested in growing spiritually, it’s reached the point where I’ve felt the need to shake the dust from my feet due to not being made welcome at parish-sponsored events.

At least I have now found an online Catholic website where I do in fact feel welcome, to learn, to read, to write, to share, to pray, and am very grateful for the spiritual community … and joy, and encouragement … that I have found there.

Meanwhile, I find that I am given a far greater welcome out in the world as an artist … in fact, I am even given special invitations to show my artwork, including tonight. It seems that is where God is calling me.

I would love to have some good Catholic friends … that said, if God prefers that I be a solitary artist who can somehow use my talents for His glory out in the world, then that’s the path to follow.

~~ the phoenix

Dear “phoenix”,

Thanks for your reply. Yes, part of our ordinary path to holiness is discerning God’s Will for us in particular circumstances. Jesus told His disciples in the Gospel:

And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. (Matthew 10: 14)

It is not always easy to discern God’s Will, but if we are convinced Jesus sent us as He sent his disciples in Chapter 10 of Mathew’s Gospel to "preach as you go saying, ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand’, it seems to me the words he is referring to in verse 14 have more to do with the words of Jesus than ours and the lack of welcome is more a lack of welcome for Jesus and a lack of listening to His words than ours.

On the other hand, if you have found in a parish at least some who welcome you as a brother or sister in Christ, it might be good to stay for the sake of a few. I’m just asking you to consider spending more time on the context of Chapter 10 in Matthew’s Gospel. As I said at the outset, it isn’t always easy to discern. Acceptance by the world, simply for the sake of art may not be good. God warns us not to “love the world” (1 John 2: 15 - 17).

Online communities are rather tenuous since we can be deceived by mere words typed on a screen. Face to face contacts and time together especially in a Catholic Bible Study group or other ministry like a parish Legion of Mary can more likely lead to fellowship rooted in Love for Christ and our Blessed Mother. Parish-sponsored activities can be very mixed, however, and sometimes I’ve felt like “a stranger in a crowd”, until I recognize someone I know in Christ. “Many are called, but few are chosen” is worth pondering.

Perhaps the online community you have found is a good Catholic one and has some artistic members with whom you can share your gifts. Certainly God gives gifts not simply for ourselves but for His glory and the upbuilding of the Body of Christ. I do not think God calls many to a solitary life – such as a hermit or to a strict monastic order. Most of us are called to the lay vocation and to work with Him in the world (but not of it). God made us to know Him, love Him and serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him forever in the next. We need to keep praying to the Holy Spirit for the complete Truth.

Our life on earth is a journey toward Him and like Jesus we will need to take up our own unique cross, but in Jesus, and in doing our Father’s Will is our Joy. Again, let me repeat the words of Pope Emeritus which have helped me so much:

We speak of him because we feel the duty to transmit that joy which has been given to us

I hope your life and your art speak of Jesus, dear phoenix, and that you will find a few who welcome you, even as Mary and Joseph welcomed Jesus and a few shepherds and three wise men welcomed Him. May the increasing joy of knowing Jesus enable you to do even greater art for His Glory. :slight_smile:

Hi MariaChristi,

Thank you for your reply. Here’s some background:

I tried the whole joining groups in the parish thing that everyone advises you to do, Donut Sundays, getting involved in active ministry. I even hosted a Women’s Renewal Group Christmas Party in my apartment. Guess I’m just too … who knows what … for Catholics to accept me as a single person in social situations. That said, I currently am involved in my parish as part of the Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Team, and have been for about seven years.

What I learned though was, instead of staying after Mass for Donut Sundays, I started going out in nature, just me and my camera …

and then found myself in the following circumstances…

I was once forced to resign a full-time job due to being a pro-life Catholic. I started threads on it in the Prayer Intentions section of the forum that you can look back at if you want to know more.

It took me years to get another full-time position.

Meanwhile, after praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament in the Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Chapel, I felt inspired to become an artist, of all things, and at middle age, and never having thought I’d be an artist beyond the usual phase of drawing and coloring things as a child. No, being an artist is not a full-time job, but I believe it helped me to … eventually … get another full-time job. (Beyond that, my work has been exhibited in several art galleries, museums, libraries, a solo show, and I’ve sold internationally online.) If God wants me to still keep on being an artist now that I have what I wanted … a normal desk job, then I will do my best to keep on this path too.

While my artwork consists mainly of landscapes and nature scenes in both traditional and abstract forms, my avatar here on CAF comes from a photo I took of a statue of Mary in a woodland shrine, and on my profile page is another photo I took of a statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

Thank you for your well wishes.

~~ the phoenix

Dear “phoenix”

Artists have special gifts, and photographers are certainly artists in a very special medium. My husband has done some beautiful photography and told me that it gives him another form of prayer: he seeks God in all things and when he “sees” a particular truth in God’s creation he attempts to capture that truth in a photo so others might “see”. Waterfalls are a particular favorite of his. Waterfalls always remind me of the abundance of Mercy flowing from God. Water in particular calls to mind the image of the Holy Spirit, welling up within us, as we hear in Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well (John 4:14).

I love your avatar for it tells me you value devotion to Mary as Jesus does. :slight_smile: Our Lady of Fatima is very important for all of us as we await the triumph of God’s Love through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

We are not alone facing sadness in parish situations. Jesus was not accepted in Nazareth either. For my husband and me, it has been in more than one parish where we have found this mixture of the “many” and the “few”, I believe God wants us to encourage one another to persevere by God’s Grace, growing in our love for Him, following Him as He directs us, in His Love. We’ve moved several times due to changes in work but we are retired now and we do not think God is calling us anywhere else right now. We pray for the Church Universal, for the Church in our own country and for our own parish. We prayerfully listen to His Word to learn by His Grace the Complete Truth the Holy Spirit teaches through Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church.

As Jesus told us in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:14), the road is narrow that leads to life – few there are who find it. By His Grace, let us keep our eyes on Jesus, as Pope Emeritus so wisely encourages us:

We speak of him because we feel the duty to transmit that joy which has been given to us

Whether we speak through art, or the ordinary work we do, by His Grace may we transmit that joy given to us as a fruit of the Holy Spirit. May all we do, be as Mary did: sharing Jesus with others. Please let us pray for one another and for all those in most need of His Mercy. Thanks for sharing your gifts with us on this thread.

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