The Purpose of Joy

“God made us for joy. God is joy, and the joy of living reflects the original joy that God felt in creating us.” St. John Paul II

Where there is joy there is purpose. And purpose is often motivated by love. We can say in a sense that God’s happiness was motivated by the purpose of loving us into existence. Why then is it difficult to experience this joy? Specifically during times of sorrow and hardship. If it is certain that joy can overcome sorrow and bring light to difficult situations, why is it the hardest thing to obtain during moments like these.

Ultimately, joy is a choice.

Joy is the cultivation of virtues. Similar to our path in holiness, joy requires free will and growth in virtue. Do we consider this at the dawn of day? Do we heed the invitation to live a life of happiness rooted in joy? What if we woke up one day and intentionally decided to smile. Not with a smile void of meaning, but with a smile motivated by the sight of a new day and another day of life. Obviously, this is not a common practice for most anyone, it seems to be a small and insignificant gesture but still, it speaks volumes to the potential we are given if only we made a conscious decision to recognize occasions of joy in our life.

And there is yet another way of cultivating this joy. It consists in practicing goodness and recognizing Truth as it is rooted in the goodness of God. What does this look like? Imagine yourself in line at a grocery store and a mother of 5 is in front of you at the check-out counter, she appears to be short on her payment and the cashier asks her to pick some items to remove from her purchase. I know this is a simple example but the little joy you receive in helping her keep the items she intended to buy is not a joy rooted in pride or self-esteem. If this joy is rooted in Christ, it is a joy that stems from a knowledge of truth in the goodness of God because ultimately he blessed you with the means to give.

“The practice of goodness is accompanied by spontaneous spiritual joy and moral beauty. Likewise, truth carries with it the joy and splendor of spiritual beauty. Truth is beautiful in itself.” CCC 2500

Ultimately, these means of cultivating a life of joy should, by the grace of God, lead to a habitual way of life. In this way, we will not fear desolation or sorrow but welcome it with open arms because our joy is rooted in a God who loves us. A joy that surpasses all of life’s difficulties and uncertainties. And in this way, the fears that we encounter will be welcomed and embraced because we stand firm in the joy that comes from the truth of God’s love.

“You show me the path of life; in your presence, there is fulness of joy, in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.” Psalm 16:11

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