The depth of joy which the saint experiences cannot be separated from his conviction of the reality of its source.
Just as the happiness of a lover disappears when he discovers that the love he imagines to be coming from his beloved is but his own fantasy.
The saint's joy comes from the fact that God's love is the apex of being, and to arrive there involves the spirit in something limitless, inexhaustible, and endless. As many writers on mysticism have pointed out, the ecstatic is the true realist because he achieves experiential contact with what, to most of us, is half hidden and known primarily by faith.
The joyfulness of the saints is not only the result of their having unusually vivid disclosures of God's love. It comes very much from the fact that they have stripped themselves — by choosing total sacrifice — of everything which would prevent Christ from working in their lives. Theirs is the joy of driving at a racing speed in contrast to the jerky pace of those who are trying to go ahead with one foot on the brake! The saints are the great revolutionaries in this area of loving God and neighbor. Through their total commitment to God, they are able to extend themselves past the boundaries of what their own society is willing to see as lovable. For example, Saint Augustine, in his Confessions, amazes us with his intimate love of God. Every idea this great philosophic writer had, he related in some way to God.
Ronda Chervin. "The Joy of the Saints." from Church of Love (Liguori, Missouri: Liguori Publications, 1973).
Reprinted by permission of the author, Ronda Chervin. Church of Love is out of print.
This excerpt appeared in Magnificat.
Ronda Chervin teaches at Holy Apostles College and Seminary. She converted to the Catholic Faith from a Jewish, though atheistic, background and has been a Professor of Philosophy and Theology at Loyola Marymount University, the Seminary of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and Franciscan University of Steubenville. She is the author of some sixty books including Healing of Rejection with the Help of the Lord: A Survivor's Guide, Avoiding Bitterness in Suffering: How Our Heroes in Faith Found Peace Amid Sorrow, Catholic Realism: A Framework for the Refutation of Atheism and the Evangelization of Atheists, What The Saints Said About Heaven: 101 Holy Insights On Everlasting Life, and Holding Hands with God: Catholic Women Share Their Stories of Courage.Copyright © 1973 Ronda Chervin
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