Simple and Practical Ways to Promote and Preserve Spiritual Joy, Inspired by St Paul
There is a series of wonderful meditations on the Claritas blog at the moment by priests from the Argentian order, the Institute of the Incarnate Word. I wanted to highlight this, and also share with you here third in the series of meditations for this third week of Advent, based upon the readings from last Sunday. It is by Father Nicholas Grace who is in Cowdenbeath in Scotland. It is so refreshing to hear a priest actually confirming something that I have long believed, that happiness is a choice we can make, provided know how to make the choice. This is simple but profound advice!
We have a wonderful topic this 3rd Sunday of Advent because the readings the Church presents give us the opportunity to speak about that most desirable Catholic disposition of soul, that is, Spiritual joy.
The readings offer plenty of material for speaking about spiritual joy. The spiritual joy of the glad tidings that Isaiah was asked to bring to the poor or the spiritual Joy expressed in the Psalm we heard. The Psalm which was an echo of Our Lady’s Magnificat, an expression of spiritual Joy in its purest form.
However, we will focus instead on the 2nd reading from the letter of St. Paul where we are encouraged to rejoice always, to rejoice in God.
I would like to focus on three of the means Paul offers to cultivate and maintain spiritual joy. I will mention three ways to pray without ceasing, and three ways to avoid quenching the spirit. Finally, both of these means will be summarized in Paul’s admonition to retain what is good and refrain from what is evil.
First: Paul urges, pray constantly. How is this possible? It is possible in three ways.
1st: He constantly prays who does not neglect the appointed time for prayer. This begs the question, do I have an appointed time for prayer? If not, why not?
2nd: Always cultivate good desires in the heart. “Lord, you hear the desire of the meek”.
We pray for the good, we desire the good and we do the good. Prayer is always present in the good things we do. For this reason, the wise man says, “He does not cease praying who does not cease doing good.”
Therefore, to constantly cultivate good desires in the heart, is to constantly cultivate prayer.
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