Many people equate joy with happiness and use the words interchangeably. However, joy is different from happiness. Where happiness is fleeting, joy is lasting; where joy has no “conditions,” happiness has “conditions.” For example, “I’ll be happy if…” constitutes a condition. And when human beings define what constitutes happiness, we ultimately disappoint ourselves. Many people think that riches and fame will bring happiness; but once received, we would quickly learn that we are more likely to experience anxiety and discontent, rather than happiness. As humans, we search for happiness in vain. Saint Thomas Aquinas believed that we will not fully understand the degree of happiness for which we search, until we will be united with God in Heaven. In the meantime, what we are really searching for is virtue and don’t know it, for we think that virtue will hinder our happiness. Yet, in all actuality, the opposite is true. Embracing Christ’s lasting peace and joy (two virtues) will make us happy. It will make us want to dance with joy!
Dance with Joy!
Joy is a virtue and a fruit of the Holy Spirit, resulting from the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, at work in our lives. The Holy Spirit fills us with a sense of inner peace, contentment and at times bubbling joy! For example, every time I receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, knowing my sins have been forgiven by God, I leave the confessional wanting to dance with joy! I feel light as a feather, knowing that God replaced my guilt and shame with peace and joy! I am reminded that I am His child, whom He loves dearly every time I reconcile myself to God.
So, at this time of year, when Our Lord and Savior’s birthday is celebrated, there is no better time than now to reconcile ourselves to God, and dance with joy!