Catholics can have a certain interest and fascination with penance and suffering. We understand the power of leveraging sufferings that come our way and offering them as gifts to God. This is good, but we can sometimes forget the importance of the often forgotten fruit of the spirit in our busy age: Joy!

As we journey through the days of Easter, we ought to remember to keep that Easter joy front and center. It’s easy to become sidetracked because we already live such busy, overwhelming lives. It is true that serious Catholics often take the time to celebrate the Easter Octave, but more often than not, normal life takes over after those eight days.

When we’ve lived a lifestyle of stress for a long time, our hearts become guarded, inadvertently blocking off deep connections to others, ourselves, and the world around us. This is why it can be difficult to adopt joy as a lifestyle—yes, a lifestyle! One might say, “Joy may come easier to others, but maybe not for me. I don’t have the time or energy for it. It’s not that necessary in my daily life.”

 

Is that true, though? We ought to remember that we have been commanded by scripture to live with joy in our hearts every day. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). St. Paul felt the need to reiterate it as if to say, “Alright, I’m going to say that again very clearly in case your mind started to wander, because you cannot miss this.” I think it would be sufficient to assume that joy is not an option. It is a command! “Go forth! Have a good time. Be silly. Have a laugh. Be spontaneous. Enjoy what you’re doing!”

Wait, is God telling us to… have fun? It would seem so. More specifically, I think that God is telling us through scripture that we need to enjoy life like children do. Have you ever considered how delighted a toddler is when you do something simple yet amusing, and he laughs and says, “Again! Do it again!” The child’s bodily senses are taking it all in. He only knows wonder and gratitude for the sights, sounds, physical sensations, and the series of actions and reactions happening around him. His BODY is telling him that there is reason to rejoice! Perhaps God the Father speaks similarly when the sun rises and the flowers open their petals in the morning. Maybe He, too, is saying, “Again! Do it again!” And the world moves at His command to delight us another day.

We don’t need to do much to find joy in our everyday lives. Living a lifestyle of joy can be quite natural. We were made for it—our bodies being the way that we experience the world. Perhapssomething that you can do on your own (even better with family and friends) is to write down a handful of joyful, beautiful moments that you have experienced during your day.

Did you enjoy that lovely aroma of coffee reaching your nostrils? Did you delight in the sound of the mockingbird singing a series of complex songs atop the tree outside your window? Did you appreciate it when a kind driver let you merge onto that difficult lane in heavy traffic? Did your heart soar when you saw the five-year-old kindly helping the two-year-old with a toy that got stuck? In my own practice, I’ve seen that when one does this for a few days, one may start to effortlessly notice more beautiful moments throughout the day. One may even start hunting for them daily like Easter eggs! Huh… interesting thought, right? Well… happy hunting!

Kathleen Solis is a University of Dallas alumna and works part-time for TOBET. She enjoys writing and illustrating children’s/young adult books in her free time.

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