St. Francis of Assisi is the most famous, joyful saint. Look at our pope, whose name sake is Francis; his very countenance radiates authenticity, kindness, joy and the love of God.
Joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, not a gift given to a select few but a by-product of living in the Spirit. Sacred Scriptures exhort us to trust and embrace the joy of the Lord.
The Joy of The Lord is my Strength
Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice!Philippians 4:4
You have put more joy and rejoicing in my heart than [they know] when their wheat and new wine have yielded abundantly. Psalm 4:7
Be happy [in your faith] and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually (always).
1 Thessalonians 5: 16
You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16: 11
I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing. John 15: 11
The very first time my husband heard holy laughter was 26 years ago while making a retreat at the famous Trappist monastery near Oka in Quebec. He was walking quietly down a hallway, trying to be silent and unobtrusive when a monk threw his head back and let loose gales of full-out belly laughter. It sparked joy in every one who heard it. That’s what holy laughter does; it ignites the joy of the Lord in everyone who is open. Another Trappist, Thomas Merton, was asked if it was possible to tell if a another person had truly undergone inner transformation.
“It is very difficult to tell but usually it is accompanied by a wonderful sense of humour.”
There are many amusing stories about the saints. While on a journey to visit one of her convents, a donkey threw St. Theresa of Avila into a stream of freezing cold water. Standing in her water-logged, heavy habit, she yelled at God,
“If this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few!”
Did you ever wonder how the plain, hard-working, celibate, 17th century Shakers got their name? It is because they shook under the power of God and they danced! No wonder they were persecuted and chased out of Europe; they scandalized said, proper, miserable Christians. Just like King David danced before the Lord in complete abandonment. Do we look on with scorn when we see anyone moving and dancing in the Spirit? Remember how God reacted to not only David but his wife Michal;
2 Samuel 6
Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, 15 while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.
16 As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.
20 When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”
—I will celebrate before the Lord. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes….
23 And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.
I am willing to wager that almost all religious, faithful Catholics would not model David but scowl along with Michal.
Humour, the ability to laugh at myself and not take myself too seriously, puts the process of inner transformation into perspective. If I am self-centered instead of God centered, everything becomes intense and dramatic. When I take my eyes off myself my faith, my religious practices, my spiritual ‘progress’, and look at my Saviour, everything comes back into the proper perspective. I am filled with joy, the joy of the Lord. Watch out, it’s contagious and extremely infectious