Just like C.S. Lewis, I was Surprised by Joy. Of course there are certain serious Catholic bloggers who have a problem with my spirituality. Often traditional, Pre-Vatican ll prophets of doom, who religiously fast and recite prescribed set prayers for hours each day, take exception to my childlike spirit of joy. Yet this path was not of my choosing. I craved a life which would embrace an intense regime of self-sacrifice as a consecrated, contemplative religious. When God called me to marriage and to be a mother, I really did feel like I was accepting second best. Then, twenty years ago, a consecrated, contemplative who served in a listening house, said to me,
” You really have been given the best of both worlds. You are married with children yet you are living the contemplative life.”
Her response still brings tears to my eyes. To live a childlike spirituality of joy is not easy for a modern day adult. I have been through decades of counselling and spiritual direction to allow Jesus to heal me and save me from myself and my fears and my ego and I have decades yet to travel through. There are tears in my eyes now because so few understand the little way of surrender. It was my children who stripped me and formed my spirituality.
Of course St. Therese understood this humble, little way,
“For me prayer is a surge of the heart, it is a simple look towards Heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”
St. Therese of Lisieux
Listen to Anne Lamott:
I think joy and sweetness and affection are a spiritual path.
We’re here to know God, to love and serve God,
and to be blown away by the beauty and miracle of nature.
You just have to get rid of so much baggage to be light enough to dance, to sing, to play.
You don’t have time to carry grudges;
you don’t have time to cling to the need to be right.
Of course the saints understood. They could thank God for Christ because He offers adults an easy way to love and to put love into action when they allowed Him to save them.
“Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry”
St. Pio of Pietrelcino
“If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!”
St. Catherine of Sienna
Relax. Give up striving. Surrender to His love and let it saturate every cell of your body. Then simply let His love flow through you. It ends up being a long journey to such carefree lifestyle because pride and ego get in the way. It is so simple that it seems complicated to our adult, logical minds. No wonder Jesus praises the child,
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14
And in even stronger terms,
“I assure you,” He said, ‘unless you are converted and become like children, , you will never get into the kingdom from heaven…’” Matthew 18:4
Then Blessed Teresa of Calcutta:
Joy is a net
of love by which
you can catch