Here are a few quotes from the chapter on “joy” as one of the lessons of St. Francis.
The universe is….a symphony of rhythm and harmony that expresses the pleasure of the Creator. Divine joy was and is the primal reason for its existence…. ---Sherwood Wirt
Happiness turns up more or less where you’d expect it to – a good marriage, a rewarding job, a pleasant vacation. Joy, on the other hand, is as notoriously unpredictable as the one who bequeaths it. ----Frederick Buechner
Receive poverty, want, sickness, and all miseries joyfully from the hand of God, and with equal joy receive consolation, refreshment, and all super-abundance. ----Macarius the Elder
St. Francis was probably the first person to initiate a reenactment of the birth of Christ. In 1223 he declared that the birth of the Savior should NOT be a day of fasting, but a day of celebration. Subsequently, the community was delighted to view, in a stable just out of town, a small baby, wrapped warmly lying in a manger, further warmed by the breath of the farm animals surrounding him. The joy that St. Francis found in the birth of Christ was shared by the entire community.
The author of The Lessons of St. Francis suggests three exercises to cultivate joy:
- Embrace the immediate moment. Learn how to be alive in the here and now instead of constantly dreaming and scheming for something better or regretting the past
- Open and close each day with thanksgiving to cultivate a thankful spirit
- Be forgiving. This frees you from the illusion of both control and victimization.