“ If the way Christians live at times appears dull and boring, you should be the first to show the joyful and happy side of faith. The Gospel is the “good news” that God loves us and that each of us is important to him. Show the world that this is true!” -Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict’s words are a reminder of the importance of living the Christian life and faith with joy. After all, we believe that we are loved, and created for eternal life with he who is perfect love. What could be a greater cause of joy?
Each of us has to ask ourselves – are we living with joy? Have we been radically transformed by the “good news?” No matter our situation, here are three devotions we can incorporate into our lives to grow in joy.
The Heroic Minute: St. Josemaria Escriva wrote about this important practice, which is getting out of bed immediately after you wake. In The Way , Escriva wrote, “It is the time fixed for getting up. Without hesitation: a supernatural reflection and...up! The heroic minute: here you have a mortification that strengthens your will and does no harm to your body.” When we begin our day with this discipline, we entrust the day to the Lord and start the day on the right foot. Psychologically, this “minute” has great health benefits. People that get up quickly in the morning are more motivated self-disciplined, and able to focus. All of these make it easier to be joyful. To get started, it might be helpful to put a sacred image by your bed that you will see when you wake up.
Looking to Daily Saints: Each feast day the Church celebrates reminds us to turn to the saints. The Lord loves to bestow grace on us, and his saints love to intercede on our behalf. We can grow in relationship with the saints (and joy) by celebrating with the liturgical calendar. We can prayerfully ask for the intercession of these joyful men and women on their feast days through novenas and Mass, inviting their witness of joy to inspire us.
Examen: A daily examen has long been a part of the Christian tradition. Made famous by St. Ignatius of Loyola, this spiritual practice has you reflect on your day and speak to the Lord about your successes, your difficulties and insecurities, and your joys, all while building your relationship with Him. The Lord wants a relationship with us, not simply for us to “go through the motions,” but for us to feel known. Reflection and introspection are essential to our mental, emotional, and physical health, each of which aids our ability to be joyful.
Looking at these practices, we clearly see the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit. When we strive to give our whole selves to the Lord in prayer, we gain perspective mentally and see physical health benefits. By doing this, we can joyfully live out the “good news” as Pope Benedict instructed.