Perfect Joy

(November 1, 2009)

Bottom line: Life offers only one tragedy: to not become a saint. A saint is someone who achieves perfect joy here on earth by putting God ahead of any comfort, honor or satisfaction - and thus opens his soul to the endless joy with God.

This story is told about St. Francis: One day he and Brother Leo conversed as they went from village to village. They discussed what would consitute perfect joy. Brother Leo had walked with Francis for many monthes so he knew that perfect joy was more than a good meal and a bottle of wine. He suggested some other possibilities:

To preach a sermon and have people change their lives.
But Francis said that would not be perfect joy.

To heal the sick and drive out demons.
But Francis said that would not be perfect joy.

To have a hundred brothers living in harmony with a common mission.
But Francis said that would not be perfect joy.

As they walked, Brother Leo tried to think of what would be perfect joy. Night fell and they arrived at a monastery. They knocked on the door and asked if they could spend the night. But the porter said, "No, you are false friars, living off the goodness of others." Brother Leo began to protest, but Francis said, "Thank him, Brother Leo, for he sees us as God does."

It started to rain so Brother Leo in desperation knocked on the door and begged to be let in. The porter opened the door. In his hand he held a stick. "Stop bothering me, you lazy frauds." Then he swung his stick at them. Brother Leo and St. Francis fell back into the mud. As they lay there, cold and wet and hungry, Francis turned his head to Brother Leo, "This," he whispered, "is perfect joy."*

This story, although it contains elements of legend, illustrates what Jesus tells us today: "Blessed are the poor...blessed are they who hunger and thrist...Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven."

Jesus, like St. Francis, teaches us the way to beatitude, to perfect joy: Not in everyone admiring us and treating us well, but in seeing ourselves as God sees us. It may not lead to immediate comfort, but it will lead us to what matters: "Your reward will be great in heaven."

We sometimes say those works casually. We even joke about a "heavenly reward." But when you think about it, life offers only one tragedy: to not become a saint. A saint is someone who achieves perfect joy here on earth by putting God ahead of any comfort, honor or satisfaction - and thus opens his soul to the endless joy with God forever.

************

*And perfect freedom. Imagine an inner peace that does not depend on external conditions or the judgment of others.

General Intercessions for All Saints Day (from Priests for Life)

Spanish Version

From Archives (All Saints Homily):

Loneliness and Lasting Communion

His Sermon on All Saints by St. Bede the Venerable
For iPod users, here is the MP3 version of St. Bede's All Saints Day Homily

All Soul's Day Homily: Sister Death

From Archives (All Saints Homilies):

Something for You Week 2: Communion
Perfect Joy
Loneliness and Lasting Communion

Sunday Homilies

Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)

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Fr. Brad's Homilies

Fr. Jim's Homilies

Fr. Michael White's Homilies ("messages")

Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)

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St. Mary of the Valley Album

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