Catherine Doherty is a writer I’ve kept returning to for four decades, ever since I read her wonderful book Poustinia: Encountering God in Silence, Solitude, and Prayer.
In 2002 I published a book about joy, Champagne for the Soul, and I’ve been pleased to discover how often Doherty also celebrates the importance of having and nourishing joy in the Lord. “Delight yourself in the Lord,” says the psalmist, “and He will give you the desires of your heart” (37:4). Here is a selection of Catherine Doherty’s thoughts on joy.
“Joy consists in possessing what one most greatly desires. What is it that you desire most of all at this moment? Maybe you have no joy because you desire the wrong things, the possession of which does not bring real, lasting joy? The life of a Christian is to give oneself completely to God, and if we do this, we will discover joy so immense that our everyday life will be completely transformed. We will find ourselves living in a new reality.”
“Do we remember how to be joyous? Or have we lost joy, along with so much else? Perhaps it is because we have lost simplicity. We have allowed our needs and fears to conquer us. Let holy simplicity guide our steps.”
“Joy is very quiet. It is like a light that shines in the darkness. My joyous moments begin when I wake up. I have the habit of saying, even while I am half asleep, three words: ‘Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.’ And then, while the bed is still very warm and I am only half awake, joy comes to me every morning with the incredible thought that God has granted me another day to love Him and to serve Him.”
“We are children of joy, for there is no such thing as a joyless saint; but our joy is cradled in the poverty of Bethlehem, the poverty of creatures, and we must accept this.”
“To be poor in spirit, detached, living according to God’s will, means simply to be happy, at peace…. Such people bring the kingdom of heaven right down to earth.”
“The sufferings, tensions, difficulties, and problems which must perforce fill every life have a remedy—joy! Christ’s joy whispers to us, shouts to us, that life is worth living even with all of its sufferings and difficulties; that it all has a purpose, and that it leads to perfect happiness when borne with Him, through Him, and for Him.”
“We touch the miraculous and the impossible every day, and take it for granted; that’s our problem. Why don’t we have joy? Are we filled with joy that we are living in the resurrected Christ, now, this moment? Or are we still doubting Thomases? Are we cognizant, aware? Do we wake up in the morning and say, “Christ is risen; truly He is risen. It is true!” Are we filled with this joy? We live in the resurrected Lord! Just thinking about God delights me.”
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