This coming Sunday is the third Sunday of Advent. It has a special title, Gaudet Sunday or as some of us were taught, Joy Sunday. The problem is there are many for whom joy is not part of their lives this year. Perhaps you are one of these people. You may be living through a difficult time, have experienced a great loss, or are struggling with a mental condition such as clinical depression, crippling anxiety, or scruples. Such states beg the question: can you be filled with holy joy when feeling so down and out?
It might help to know that several Saints went through joyless seasons of joy. St. Therese of Lisieux comes to mind. She suffered long periods of scruples and depression. I highly doubt she had a reprieve from being racked with irrational guilt, doubts, and emotional flatness during the season of comfort and joy. However, she was very clear that she hung onto faith during those times and made the heroic effort of practicing virtue despite her feelings. Not yelling at irritating fellow nuns was one of the things she did. Participating in the sacraments, praying, and seeking and following counsel were others. Her example is simple. Effort plus having hope that Christ will eventually heal you equals faith. Acknowledge your faith and say thank you (faith is a gift, remember), and you will then be practicing holy joy even if you don’t feel joyful this year.
Christ is coming! Hope in that! There will likely be other Advents and Christmas’s when your emotions can participate too. “Pain is temporary,” said St. Teresa of Avila. I’m sure she had joyless Joy Sundays too.
Picture is of our advent candles, which we first set out 20 years ago when our children were little.