In the Name of the Father and of the Son, the Holy Ghost, Amen.
Gaudete Sunday is the Sunday in which we are commanded by the Church to rejoice. That might sound like an odd command, saying to feel something. And it’s not said as a suggestion, it’s not presented as some sort of spiritual program to follow but were ordered to. And what does this mean?
Well, we set aside, to a certain extent, our Advent austerities, with the understanding that we have been busying ourselves with Advent austerities, and are told to take a break, to gaudete in Domino semper to rejoice in the Lord always. Then what does this mean, this command? Rejoice? I mean, how do you tell somebody who’s suffering from depression? Somebody who’s unemployed, somebody who is grieving the loss of a loved one, to rejoice, it seems rather obtuse. And even before coffee, that sounds like an impossible task to rejoice. How, how do we do this? Why would we be told to do this? Well, if we understand this rejoicing, as a Christmas feeling, as a sentiment, well, we don’t understand it correctly. If we understand that as a virtue, we don’t understand it correctly. Right? This has nothing to do with feelings has nothing to do with virtues. Rather, this regards a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
And what are the fruits of the Holy Spirit? What is a fruit? Well, the fruit of a tree, of a plant, would be its produce, right? The fruit of our reason is the judgment we come to when we enter into a certain rational discourse. So what is the fruit then of the Holy Spirit? It is an act. It’s an act by a person in a state of grace, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And so this is something that is within our grasp in as much as we are in a state of grace. If we are not in a state of grace, it’s not going to happen. There are no fruits of the Holy Spirit, in a soul that is not in a state of grace. It’s impossible for that soul to produce such actions, because he’s already, through one grave sin, cast the Holy Spirit out of his soul in a sort of auto exorcism.
On the other hand, when the Holy Spirit is present in the soul, there should be fruits, it would make sense. And Paul enumerates them. He gives us 12. The Church has never said there are only 12, but Paul gives us 12; starts with charity, and then joy, and then peace, and so on. Lastly, then modesty and chastity, and there’s a certain order to these, why is that? Because, obviously, if God is charity, and He dwells within us, we enjoy the Divine Indwelling because we’re in a state of grace through the ordinary means of grace such as the sacraments. Well, He is the goal of all of this, right? We already have Divine Love dwelling within us, He is defined Himself. He is love. He’s shown us that on the cross, John says God is charity. And so when charity dwells within us, we already possess the beloved. We already possess Him. And Thomas tells us following Aristotle, that joy is the result of possessing the beloved; I already have achieved my goal. And so that’s what this is, then that’s why this joy that we’re commanded to act upon, is possible. Notice too that, after joy comes peace. St. Augustine defines peace not as a an absence of conflict, but rather as he calls it tranquillitas ordinis. In other words, everything is in its right place.
Everything is in its right place. God is in His right place in heaven and in our souls, because we’re in a state of grace. But also my affections are in the right place. My hierarchy of values is correct.
If I’m in a state of grace, and nonetheless, I can’t make acts of joy, then my attachments are disordered. I’ve placed my sights on something too low. And that’s usually the case with all of us, I think we want too little, even demand too little from our Lord. We asked Him to make things work out for us in this world. What did our lady of Lord say to Bernadette? I do not promise you joy in this life, happiness in this life, but definitely in the life that come. In other words, our Lord doesn’t want us to be satisfied with anything less than Him. And anything less than Him that we do have, ought to be a cause of gratitude, whether it’s the cross or tabor.
But He’s a jealous lover. And He doesn’t even want to be number one in a list of loves, He wants to be the only one, the only one. And when He is the only one, then and truly the only one, in other words, everything is in its right place, then our other loves, are rightly ordered. Our human relations, our activities, our work, etc. There are a few cultures such as ours that take entertainment so seriously. And we think to fill this void in our heart with things that are less than Him, and we keep on filling and filling and filling and nonetheless, the more we stuffed in that hole that is infinite, an infinite abyss, the more empty we can feel. And that’s God’s mercy that allows us to experience that emptiness so that we do not fool ourselves thinking that we have a lasting home here and that we are fulfilled in these external gifts of our Lord. So we don’t demonize creation, we recognize it for what it is.
And there are certain things Thomas tells us certain things that give us a corresponding joy. Such as our sleep, things that are natural, our sleep, our food, our recreation, our study, our prayer, all of these things. He says virtue itself brings about it about a certain joy. But all of these things have to be subordinated towards that one end of our existence, which is our Lord and Savior. When we do have things in their right place, we can rejoice in the midst of horrible trials.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta went through a horrible 50-year dark night, in which she felt rejected by our Lord. She felt rejected, she felt that she was condemned to hell, for the last 50 years of her life. Who would have thought that until her diary was made public, after her death, that she felt convinced that she was going to hell? She felt that, but she knew something different.
And this is where we have to impose our will, on those created feelings. We have to impose principles, sound principles, the truths of our faith, to reorder, and not only reorder but also to understand what’s going on within us. Because it’s in the truths of the principles of our faith that we find the truth about ourselves, not necessarily what we feel, but what we know to be true. And how that fits in my life, how I fit in that scheme of things, and how I adapt myself constantly.
Because our conversion is ongoing. We’re never done converting. When our conversion is ongoing, and we’re aware of that, and we’re working at it, like any relationship that needs to be worked at, I mean, from our side anyway, our Lord is doing fine, thank you. But we, you know, we’re not so sure in our next step, what my next choice is going to be.
So when Mother Church says, Rejoice, always, it’s for our own good. And it doesn’t mean to feel anything. It means to allow the Holy Spirit to take charge. And we follow His inspirations, and we allow the good fruits of that Divine Lover to be made real.
In the name of the Father and the Son, the Holy Ghost