The Presence of God
produces Holy Joy in the Soul.

"Rejoice in the Lord" (Phil. IV, 4).
     
 Rejoice in God, all ye peoples of the earth, says David (Ps. LXV, 1); "Serve ye the Lord with gladness" (Ps. XCIX, 2); ye just rejoice in Him; delight in the Lord, all ye that are true of heart (Ps. XXXII, 1). Thou knowest, said the faithful Esther to God, that Thy servant has never rejoiced but in Thee  alone (Esth. XIV, 18).  I will exult with joy in God my Saviour (Hab. Ill, 18); and the Blessed Virgin exclaimed in the same terms: "My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour" (Luke I, 47).  This holy delight, this pure joy, is the proper disposition of the just: "There is no peace for the wicked" (Is. XL VIII, 22); but the soul of the just is tranquil, it is as a perpetual feast (Prov. XV, 15);  and God who loves justice, causes all things to concur to his advantage (Rom. VIII, 28).  0 Lord, continue to be upon earth the joy and the happiness of them, who do not expect anything but Thee only in time and in eternity.
    "Let your modesty be known to all men" (Phil. IV, 5).  The apostle unites modesty and joy; and to give a reason for it, he adds: because the Lord is at hand; and again: "God is not far from each one of us" (Acts XVII, 27).  I beheld the Lord always at my right hand, therefore I have not been moved, said David (Ps. XV, 8); and Job: Place me near Thee, 0 Lord, and let who will, come to combat me (Job XVII 3).

      Since by the Incarnation God has become our Brother and the companion of our pilgrimage, His name is "Emmanuel", that is, "God with us" (Isaias VII 14).  "He was seen on earth, He conversed with men" (Bar. Ill, 38), "and dwelt among us" (John I, 14).   Therefore, with more reason than the ancient just, we may repeat: that the Saviour is nigh.   What sadness will not be dissipated by these tidings: "Behold thy King cometh" (Zach. IX, 9), and He comes to save thee; say to the cowardly: Take courage, and fear not; behold thy King comes, and He will save thee.  This is certainly a just subject for joy, which is founded in God, and which cannot be disturbed by men.   Jesus Christ wishes us to preserve it, notwithstanding their calumnies and persecutions (Mat. V, 11); and, instructed by Him, St. Paul exclaims: We superabound with joy in tribulation, because it produces trial; trial, patience; and patience, hope which shall hot be confounded (Rom. V, 5).  Who can snatch from the just man the joy and tranquillity of his heart, says St. Augustine; will it be the labors and tears of penance? These are delicious tears.  Will it be afflictions?  The just man thinks only of the happiness that is to follow. Finally, will it be the apprehension of an inevitable death?  Death opens to him the way to a better life, a life which will crown his desires, by making him enter into the joy of his Lord (Mat. XXV, 25).
                      
    The joy of the just springs from an irreproachable conscience: it is one of the fruits of the Holy Ghost who produces it (Gal. V, 22), and who Himself sustains it in a pure heart.  It has nothing in common with that worldly joy which leads to death, and which has been smitten with the divine malediction: "Woe to you that laugh" (Luke VI, 25).  Holy joy is a source of life; it imparts a modest serenity to the countenance; it directs with perfect propriety, without affectation, the actions and the conduct; it generates patience, meekness and peace.  The heart that possesses it, is satisfied in the midst of the greatest miseries, knowing that God, who is dearer to it than itself, is always happy and glorious; it is sustained by hope, for it rests upon the infallible promises of God, and already, by its firm confidence, it possesses the goods that it expects; it disdains those of earth and uses them only with moderation and transitorily; it takes no part in vain pleasures, for they are only an illusion; because it contains a true satisfaction that nothing can take from it.   St. Paul wishes the Christian to be always cheerful. "The Lord", says he elsewhere, "loveth a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. IX, 7).  All the prophets and patriarchs, inspired and animated by the same spirit, had spoken thus before him.  

    Joy is a production of divine love, and the soul that is possessed by it, rejoices only in the happiness of Him, whom it loves.  But lest some accident should disturb this joy, St. Paul gives us this counsel: "Be not solicitous: but in everything, by prayer and supplication, -with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God" (Phil. IV, 6).  Before him David had said: "Rejoice in the Lord, and He will give thee all the desires of thy heart" (Ps. LVI,4). What sweeter means to obtain all kinds of goods! 0 Lord, who is like unto Thee?  Blessed are they who know how to rejoice in Thee (Ps. LXXXVIII, 16).

A Monk of Sept-Fonts      

Translated from the French
By the Religious of the Visitation,
of Wilmington, Deleware
Rivised and Edited by
Rev. Ferreol Girardey, C.SS.R.
Herder, St. Louis, 1906