God Is Joyful But Images Of His Followers Are Not


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Christians must have managed to transform God into a stern task master

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who makes his slaves miserable  because there are hardly any images of Christian monks or priests laughing. Yet,  there are hundreds of images of Buddhist and Tibetan monks smiling , reflecting relaxed, joyful hearts.Thank goodness for Pope Francis, who lives in the joy of the Lord.Perhaps his example will help change our reputation in the media.

It is interesting to note that truly holy people usually have a marvelous sense of humour. When my husband first visited a Trappist monastery about 30 years ago, it was the sound of loud, infectious, belly laughter echoing throughout the Abby that stuck with him 

Thomas Merton,(an American Trappist Monk) was once asked,

“How can you tell if a person has gone through inner, spiritual transformation?

Merton smiled,

“Well it is very difficult to tell but holiness is usually accompanied by a wonderful sense of humour.”

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When I longed for joy and peace I realized that I had to let go of my whole concept of God. It was a call to let go of my attitude, way of living and praying I knew that I had to quit trying to advance in my spiritual life on my own. I started to laugh at my ridiculous attempts to save myself. I mean what did Jesus die for if not to save, heal and set us free to be who we were created to be? We are simply joyful children of God, no more and no less. Little children get it, do we?

This persistent idea that saints a morose, long-faced, suffering victims distorts our image of what true sanctity actually is because laughter and joy are part of who we are in Christ

The only thing that I can come up with is that we take ourselves too seriously, centering on our own disciplines of fasting, prayer, reading, etc and not on God’s work in us. In other words, we can all slip into an egocentric spirituality and not a God centered spirituality. Unknowingly, we become the centre of our reality, not God.


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