instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Unlikely prayers

Whew! I hope everyone's recovered from the Sts. Philip and James Day celebrations yesterday.

The opening of the collect for their feast struck me as difficult to pray with much sincerity:
God our Father, every year You give us joy on the festival of the Apostles Philip and James.
I don't say there was no joy given the the Church yesterday, but I didn't feel much like a direct participant in it.

Today's collect, too, speaks of joy:
Almighty God, as we celebrate the Resurrection, may we share with each other the joy the risen Christ has won for us.
Now, today is Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter; exactly how are we still celebrating the Resurrection?

The prayer speaks of joy in a curiously indirect way. It's not "may we share with each other our joy," nor even "Christ's joy," but "the joy the risen Christ has won for us." It's as though, through His Resurrection, Jesus has tapped a keg of joy for His disciples and said, "Come celebrate with Me!" It's up to us to fill our cups with this joy and to share it with each other. There's a whole process here, a movement directed first toward the risen Christ and then toward His Mystical Body.

But though there are two parts, it remains a single movement. If we don't complete the movement by sharing the joy with others, it's not that we're doing what Jesus invites us to do wrong, it's that we're not doing it at all.

I suppose there are also some who want to do only the second part, to share a joy other than that won for us by the risen Christ, and the futility of that is evident enough.

What saddens me more, though, are the Christians who seem to refuse Christ's offer of joy altogether. They draw from the Resurrection not so much the Good News of salvation as an indictment of reprobation. Obviously, I'm not in a position to say another person has no joy at all, but there are people whose words and actions betray no hint of Easter.

And since joy isn't an emotion, but a gift of the Holy Spirit, it can't be said there are circumstances, no matter how dire, in which joy is not called for.