Whenever I try to smile, I feel guilty. I feel guilty because people are suffering everywhere, be it poverty, sickness, loss, or death. How can one smile when they realize that there is much suffering in the world?
Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fullness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore. Psalm 16:11.
We can smile because we know the Lord, and that he is in control of the world.
We can pray for those suffering misfortunes, and also enjoy the good things God has given us. It would be rude not to appreciate the good in life.
That, my dear Melodeonist, is a very special spiritual gift. The Church calls it the ‘Mother Teresa Charism’ and encourages those who have this charism to emulate Mother Teresa in their own local way. ie. firstly within you own home and out to the community from there.
Don’t try and suppress it or bury it. Use it everyday to care for those in your family and friends who need to be listened to, helped or comforted by your presence and it will continue to bloom. That will be the path to* your* joy.
I think love and joy tend to go hand in hand.
How will your not smiling help anyone who is impoverished, sick, experiencing loss or death? It won’t.
Let me give you one example from my own life. I used to be a Spanish interpreter. On occasion, I worked in mental health…with people with bipolar disorder, depression, autism, etc.
Anyway, I started in my work by substituting others. In mental health, especially, I was SO strong that I could generally replace that interpreter the first session substituting.
I would go in another interpreter’s place, and my client would ask the counselor to call up my employer, ask for me, specifically, by name. Once, I asked why, if it was my superior interpreting skills, but actually…no, that didn’t seem to be really it.
I was told that my clients chose me mainly because I was fun, and funny. One said that the other interpreters would come in, read a book, not talk with the clients, not smile yet alone ever laugh. There I was chatting away, smiling, and laughing.
I think this view of the saints as overly serious, and Christ, likewise, is probably mistaken.
Love tends to make us happy. Joy tends to go hand and hand with love, in my opinion.
When someone is “down”, crying with someone isn’t necessarily the most helpful way, in many cases. I learned that in social work. Generally, empathy is helpful, but besides empathy, helping cheer the person up is probably most helpful.
I have seen this…with my clients, students, even myself.
I once saw a movie on St. John Bosco, and he seemed to be a very funny guy.
I think we have a mistaken image of the saints by looking at these stoic pictures. Look at some quotes of the saints. I think St. Theresa, the Little Flower, said she didn´t like, or want to be, a stoic saint.
Didn´t Mother Teresa, and numerous others, encourage us to smile?
Anyway, I hope you will consider reevaluating your position on smiling, and try to give away your smiles to folks as gifts, to brighten the day of everyone around you…to be like a child. What do children like to do? Smile. :)
We can and should smile because God is so good. A smile shows our love for others, and our desire to lift up the spirits of others when they are down.
There are many things one can do to help the poor. It can be sharing some of your money, and your time at a soup kitchen, or visiting lonely people at a nursing home with a smile!
Please try not to take life so seriously !
If there is some small way you can be kind to a neighbour , then you are being kind to Jesus
we can’t change the world single handedly , we can’t stop all those things that bother you,
But with a smile and a kind word, we can show compassion and empathy,
Which in turn will give people confidence in themselves , so then they can help themselves,
Be happy within yourself, and smile,
Mother Theresa had a beautiful smile. Most saints do.
Martyrs often smile, laugh, sing happily, and joke when being tortured, or when about to be executed, or even while actually being killed! The Lord gives them a joy and peace beyond all understanding that is a foretaste of eternal life.
It’s not wrong to remember the sadness of the world, or of our own sins. There’s such a thing as the “gift of tears,” even, and many saints have had that, too.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.”
However, that doesn’t mean that we should feel depressed and helpless in feeling sympathy for other people’s sorrow. We can always do something; we can always pray and offer things up for other people; and we can often give material help also. If you feel sad for other people, start doing good works and/or praying regularly for those who are in your heart.
But the Lord is victorious, and He tells us to rejoice.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16)
“Praise ye His holy Name; let the heart of them rejoice, that seek the Lord!”
“So also indeed you now have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice; and your joy no man shall take from you.”
The saints i have read about, the little bits here and there and the few books, were amazing people. How they did what they did baffles me and causes me to think how far away i really am from Jesus.
St. Francis de Sales was always smiling, and I’m sure his his joy would have been a powerful testament to God’s love working in his soul. We were created for *eternal * joy. Even the most abandoned individuals were created for Heaven. Bring them this message with joy. There is no better way of alleviating suffering than through love, prayer and a kind, happy demeanour.
‘A joyful mind maketh age flourishing: a sorrowful spirit drieth up the bones.’ (Proverbs 17:22)
‘Have pity on thy own soul, pleasing God, and contain thyself: gather up thy heart in his holiness: and drive away sadness far from thee.’ (Ecclus. 30:24)
There are ALWAYS people dying, impoverished, in wars, etc. If we were sad for every time someone else suffered, we would never have a single moment’s peace!
First…love…be peaceful, joyful and then after you achieve that, help others to experience peace, love, and joy.
Where is the thumbs down icon when you need it?
If you honestly feel guilty when you smile and are not being hyperbolic here, then you need to find a doctor/therapist and discuss what is going on in your head. Smiling and feeling happy is natural, and feeling guilty about it is not a good sign for your mental health.
Hey what?? I didn’t say not to smile. I was commenting on that intensity of empathy with the suffering of others that is known to be a mark of the ‘Mother Teresa Charism’ (a Church term). To engage that intense empathy in helping others… if you’ll note… is where I said “will be the path to your joy.”
Thumbs down to your poor reading skills.
You told someone who, in his/her words at least, is incapable of experiencing a normal human reaction to happiness that he/she has “a great spiritual gift.” What you call “intense empathy,” I would call clinical depression.
Having read many of the threads you’ve started lately, I would sincerely like you to consider the possibility that you have some sort of depression or anxiety disorder. You seem to worry about a lot of things that are not at all worrisome to most people.
Please consider talking to somebody about this – your parents, a therapist, a guidance counselor, etc. If there is some underlying cause, addressing it might help alleviate a lot of these fears.
Melodeonist, If you do in fact have clinical depression as per Quasi Catholics diagnosis, do see a specialist.
I don’t believe that your sentiment is reflective of depression at all though.
Take Pope Francis’ recent talk with young Filipinos when a young girl weepingly expressed a similar sadness…
**“Why did God let this happen to us?” she asked the pope, covering her face with her hands as she sobbed.
“There are many children neglected by their own parents,” she told Pope Francis. “There are also many who became victims and many terrible things happened to them, like drugs or prostitution. Why is God allowing such things to happen, even if it is not the fault of the children? And why are there only very few people helping us?”**
… to which Pope Francis replied…
**I thank you, Jun, for expressing your experience so courageously. As I just said, the core of your question almost doesn’t have an answer. Only when we are able to weep about the things that you lived, can we understand something and answer something. The great question for all is: Why do children suffer? Why do children suffer?
Only when the heart is able to ask the question and weep can we understand something. There is a worldly compassion, which is of no use to us. You spoke a bit about this … a compassion that at most makes us put our hand in our pocket and give a coin. If Christ had had that sort of compassion, he would have gone by, curing three or four, and would have returned to the Father. It was only when Christ wept and was able to weep, that He understood our dramas.
Dear boys and girls, today’s world needs to weep. The marginalized weep, those left aside weep, the scorned weep … but those of us who lead a life more or less without needs, don’t know how to weep. Certain realities of life are only seen with eyes cleansed by tears.
I invite each one of you to ask himself: ‘Have I learned to weep?’ ‘Have I learned to weep when I see a hungry child, a drugged child on the street, a homeless child, an abandoned child, an abused child, a child used as a slave by society?’ Or is my capricious sobbing that of one who weeps because he would like to have something more? And this is the first thing I would like to say to you. Let us learn to weep as she taught us today.
Let’s not forget this testimony. The great question – Why do children suffer? She asked it, weeping. And the great answer we can all give is to learn to weep. Jesus cries in the Gospel. He wept for his dead friend; he wept in His heart for that family that had lost their daughter; he wept in His heart when He saw that mother, a poor widow, taking her son to be buried; He was moved and wept in His heart when he saw the multitudes like sheep without a shepherd. If you don’t learn how to weep, you’re not a good Christian!
And this is a challenge. Jun Chura and his friend who spoke today have posed this challenge to us. And when we are asked, ‘Why do children suffer?’ ‘Why does this or that happen, this tragic thing in life? May our answer either be silence or a word born of tears. Be courageous; don’t be afraid to cry.**
Some people are more able to observe others suffering without such deep pain. They have other talents and charisms. But some people such as yourself, have a deep capacity to feel the suffering of others and by that are inspired to go out into the world and be fully present to them as channels of Gods love.
In no way am I depressed! I am quite happy. I simply feel wrong smiling. It’s not that I feel sad, in fact, I often feel quite the opposite. It’s that I feel guilty smiling, when people are suffering elsewhere. I do smile on occasion, but then I stop, because I feel guilty.
And all we can do, if we are not next door, is to pray and leave them in the Lord’s hands.
God is in control!
I often feel guilty for not having enough empathy for those who suffer. I want try to change that and say sorry to God, if He is there.
Please don’t feel guilty. The type of reasoning above that guilt trips you because you smile is more Puritan type thinking than Catholic.
Whenever you feel guilty about smiling, think of what Jesus said
“In this world you will have troubles, but take heart,I have overcome the world.”
Pray the rosary while meditating on the Joyful mysteries.
This might belong in a new thread, but where do you recommend getting a rosary? There is an Abbey near my house (probably less than 2 miles away) called the Abbey of Regina Laudis. Do you think they sell rosaries? Would it be better to get one there, then get one on, for example, Amazon?