Joy is more than happiness if you take happiness to mean feeling good. Joy is a fact beyond feeling, and the fact is the actual possession of what is good.

As only God is good, true joy is being with God. Because "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself," only Christ can make our joy "full" (2 Cor. 5:19; John 15:11). Gaudete, or "Rejoice" Sunday is, like Laetare Sunday in Lent, a glimpse of joy along the way to joy.

C. S. Lewis called his spiritual autobiography Surprised by Joy because, I think, he was brought up in a Calvinist atmosphere which had a pessimistic view of the world. Saints are grateful for joy, but they are not surprised by it. They expect it because Jesus promises it. For the martyrs, their most joyful moment in this world was their physically painful death, because they were not sentimentally motivated by feelings. St. Stephen rejoiced as he was being stoned, for he could see the heavens opened.

Cardinals of the Church wear red as a sign of their joyful willingness to suffer for the Faith and for the Pope who is guarantor of that Faith. In modern times, Cardinals like Mindszenty and Kung and Van Thuan did that vividly. Sometimes that suffering is more subtle. Earlier this month, the Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, was threatened with physical violence by students at the Autonomous University of Madrid if he gave a lecture there on the subject "The God who is unknown to 21st century Spaniards." A laureate of the universities of Salamanca and Munich, Cardinal Varela is a finer scholar than the sophomoric hypocrites who would not let him speak. So God remains unknown to them, and they remain deprived of God's joy. The Spanish radio network COPE remarked that "freedom and truth have become a nuisance at the place which is supposed to be the pillar of knowledge – the university." Compounding the scandal were the weakness of the faculty in protecting free speech and the Spanish government's claim that it could not guarantee the Cardinal's security. In 2008, the Pope himself was threatened if he spoke at the University of Rome. The Prince of Lies hates places dedicated to the pursuit of truth and so he screams when the truth is spoken, and he becomes most agitated in those places once thought to be most Christian.

"Secularism" is not just a cultural fashion. It is the world's worship of its worldliness, the most degrading kind of narcissism. By its self-hypnosis, it is more subtle and thus more lethal than other heresies and tyrannies. All this was foreseen by Christ when he fortified his disciples with joy as he warned them of obstacles and obscurantists to come. "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you" (Matt. 5:12).




Father George William Rutler. "Rejoice." From the Pastor (December 11, 2010).

Reprinted with permission of Father George W. Rutler.


Father Rutler received priestly ordination in 1981. Born in 1945 and reared in the Episcopal tradition, Father Rutler was an Episcopal priest for nine years. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1979 and was sent to the North American College in Rome for seminary studies. Father Rutler graduated from Dartmouth, where he was a Rufus Choate Scholar, and took advanced degrees at the Johns Hopkins University and the General Theological Seminary. He holds several degrees from the Gregorian and Angelicum Universities in Rome, including the Pontifical Doctorate in Sacred Theology, and studied at the Institut Catholique in Paris. In England, in 1988, the University of Oxford awarded him the degree Master of Studies. From 1987 to 1989 he was regular preacher to the students, faculty, and townspeople of Oxford. Cardinal Egan appointed him Pastor of the Church of Our Saviour, effective September 17, 2001.

Since 1988 his weekly television program has been broadcast worldwide on EWTN. Father Rutler has published 17 books, including: Cloud of Witnesses - Dead People I Knew When They Were Alive, Coincidentally: Unserious Reflections on Trivial Connections, A Crisis of Saints: Essays on People and Principles, Brightest and Best, Saint John Vianney: The Cure D'Ars Today, Crisis in Culture, and Adam Danced: The Cross and the Seven Deadly Sins.

Copyright © 2010 Father George W. Rutler

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