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Radiant Joy Blog

Not the Happy-Go-Lucky Type? How Could You Radiate Joy?

Joy isn’t a personality trait or inner attribute; it’s a reflection of the presence of the Lord in your life. It’s the first fruit of being with someone you love, according to the influential philosopher and Christian theologian, Thomas Aquinas (1275 – 1274), whose arguments for God’s existence are taught in both Protestant and Catholic seminaries. When you let Jesus into your heart, it makes sense that you should act differently. Remember the song lyrics, “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love?” Joy is an effect of encountering love. 

Joy can also be a checkpoint for us when we examine our actions from a spiritual viewpoint. My former pastor (and guest on Episode 1 of Christine’s Radiant Joy Podcast), Michael J. Hurley, O.P., suggests asking yourself, “Does what I’m doing or have just done fit into the Lord’s invitation for me to radiate his love and joy?” In the presence of joy, we can do things beyond our own power. So a related question is, “Am I helping willing, acting, or praying for someone else’s good, drawing on or noticing God’s power to be loving?” A “Yes” might show up as an “Aha!” that something good is happening beyond what we alone can control, and it’s touching one or more hearts and minds outside ourselves. That’s joy!

Living your personal calling in cooperation with God’s provision, inspiration, and equipping — whatever assignment God created us for — keeps you in God’s love and sustains joy. Fulfilling your mission allows joy to bubble up! The beautiful thing about witnessing to our faith, in words, actions, or the energy we radiate, is that we experience the fullness of God’s presence — and therefore joy — in the very witnessing. We don’t need  a happy-go-lucky personality to witness. I know a woman confined to a wheelchair for decades; she and her husband host a weekly prayer meeting (formerly in person, now on Zoom) and, though she can barely use her limbs or speak sentences clearly, she smiles and sings at those meetings and radiates joy.

Sometimes we forget that the spiritual life isn’t directly correlated with one’s emotional life. Despite the emotions Covid aroused, the pandemic was a time of joy for me. At home in a new city, I had more time with my husband and with a daughter and her expanding family. I slowed down and focused on my relationship with God and with myself, growing in love for both. I took to heart the two most important commandments: to love God with your whole heart, mind, strength, and soul; and to love your neighbor as you love yourself. I amped up my prayer and meditation time with the Lord, and with the Bible and spiritual books. After years of inadequate sacred self-care, during the pandemic, we nourished our bodies (temples of the Holy Spirit) with healthy, home-cooked meals. I took long baths and rested. We got a puppy and named her Gracie Abba, because she reminds me of the Father’s grace and how I want to be with God: excited and so happy to spend time with him, lavishing him with love and praise, and resting contentedly in his presence, filled with trust and dependence. Loving my neighbors was different during Covid. With one daughter’s family a short walk away, we cared for grandchildren and enjoyed weekly family dinners. I took an online personal transformation course and developed close relationships in that cohort. I attended three Zoom prayer meetings a week, loving those who came on for prayer (some I’d known for years and many new people). Like others, I prayed for the well-being, health, and consolation of people worldwide and donated to organizations serving the sick, dying, and disadvantaged. It was a time of grace, joy, and spiritual growth, despite health concerns and adversity.

In short, as the Blessed Catholic Archbishop, theologian, and TV and radio personality, Fulton J. Sheen, said essentially:

You will never be happy if your happiness depends solely on getting what you want. Change the focus. Get a new center. Will what God wills, and no one will be able to take your joy away from you.

If you haven’t heard it yet, I invite you to experience the joy of my first podcast episode by clicking here: Christine’s Radiant Joy Podcast

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