It must be remembered that if holy joy is lacking,
very few souls will be led to God.
St. Vincent Pallotti
Wake up and sing with all your heart, because the joyful spirit of Christmas is here! These are the keywords, which accompany Pope Francis' joyful teaching. God offers this gift of Joy in the form of the Infant Jesus, to be born of the Virgin Mary. By Mary's Yes, to God's great plan to bring the source of true Joy to the world, Joy was conceived within her and birthed for you and me. Because she accepted, we now can receive Him, our Savior. This is the Great Gift Exchange /cf. Luke 1:26-34/.
A joy-filled Christmas is the fruit of a holy Advent - Pope Francis
My heart begins to stir with joy now as I begin to think about the spiritually enriching season of Advent. During these four weeks we constantly hear the chant Come Lord Jesus, come, but is he not already here? Yes, of course he has come into our world, but are we aware of his presence in a personal way?
"We Are the Easter People,
and Alleluia Is Our Song."
Pope John Paul II
Easter is our greatest celebration of Hope. It is a Feast of Light breaking through darkness to shine into our world and destroy evil. The Holy Spirit has just led us through a parched desert for 40 days of thirstiness. Now we have come to the fresh Oasis of life, which sprang forth from the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
As we begin our Forty Days of Lenten wandering, let us allow the Holy Spirit to lead us out into the desert. Let's freely and happily accept these days of effort, interior struggle, penance, cleansing and allow a rebirth to be created for the love of God. This costly endeavor will also sanctify us and will bring good fruit and Christian joy.
In the Bible the desert is often presented as a place of encounter with God, as a way toward God, as a place of purification, conversion, and preparation for new tasks and challenges /cf. Moses- Exodus 3:1-3; Elijah -1 Kings 19/. It is enough to mention the forty-year journey of God's chosen people to the Promised Land. God was leading his nation through the desert, where He taught them a severe style of life, but at the same time He shared His faithful love for them. Of course we do not live in a real dessert, but we can envision our journey through this Lent in a analogous way.