Joy is a source of salvation; it’s life in the Kingdom of God here and now. Joy gives to the Church an eschatological perspective, in the lack of which Fr. Alexander sees the reason of all the problems in the Church.
The secular world cannot recognize this joy because it wants to be serious, to be “adult”. But Jesus didn’t tell us to be “serious” or strict: he gave us the commandment to be like little children (Matthew 18:3). Only children know what joy means. Only they can receive each new day as a new life. Only they can sincerely rejoice in the present. And we have a calling to be like children, which means that we should rejoice in spite of everything. Fr. Alexander said that we should accept not only salvation as a joy, but joy as salvation.
Christ did not come to found a religion that would be in competition with others. In him, God shared our condition so that every human being might know that they are loved with eternity’s love and so find joy in communion with God. When we believe in him, our eyes are opened still more to all that is human—a mother’s love for her child, the devotion of those who care for the sick.... In these acts of generosity Christ is present, sometimes without being recognized.
Maria Gabriela (Venezuela)
In our university parish, we have the opportunity to work with children and adolescents with very low incomes. Many are excluded from a good education system and have no stable home where they receive the care they need to be future men and women. Although it sometimes seems difficult, this work always achieves its goals with the help of God. Our main objective is to show these children that they can have a different life-choice, that in Christ they can find the answers they need and finally, to educate them and promote good values they do not find at home.
The satisfaction you feel to be able to serve others who are more in need is indescribable. To appreciate the joy that these kids have, grateful for what little we can offer, is enough to fill us with hope and strength to face the other harsh realities that plague us today.
As the motto that identifies this work puts it: “We choose to light a candle rather than curse the darkness.” Many of us have decided to strive to overcome the shadows that beset us in trying to serve others, in the hope that the social and political differences that keep us in constant uncertainty can one day be overcome.
We cannot change everything, we cannot prevent misfortunes from happening, but what we can do is surrender ourselves to God and serve our brothers and sisters.
The university parish gives us the opportunity to receive a formation in faith and helps us to overcome and understand many of the hardships we face as youth. It also gives us the opportunity to live in communion with God in the midst of a world lacking spirituality. By sharing with other young people who are going through the same uncertainty that surrounds us, we can help each other and feel that we always have a helping hand to protect us and support us. This motivates us to work, to serve, to love and know what our talents are, so they can bear much fruit.
We always want to try and rediscover the joy of living. Where does this joy come from? It is awakened by an unexpected meeting, by a lasting friendship, by artistic creation or again by the beauty of nature....
Erika and Riccardo (Italy)
We know people who lead a simple life and are always joyful; joy is perhaps truly something that makes life rich.
In our marriage we have discovered that joy is contagious; many people have given their time and abilities for a beautiful purpose, which creates a collective joy. We believe that in giving ourselves to others without counting the costs we find the purest and most lasting joy. It is important to rediscover reasons to be joyful in a world in which affluence sometimes masks an underlying sadness, an inner loneliness. Bringing a smile into the lives of others may not change much, but perhaps it can give birth to the idea of joy and the desire for it. We also realize, in our everyday life, that it is important to leave room for joy to emerge. Sometimes a very full day can suffocate little spaces of authentic joy. We look for reasons to be joyful, try to give them room, and try to communicate them by our words and by our lives.
When the Bible repeatedly invites us to be joyful, it shows us the source. This joy does not depend only on passing circumstances; it comes from trust in God: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice.... The Lord is near.”
In times of distress, loneliness, darkness, where there seems to be no meaning for life, I can still hear Jesus’ words which are written on my heart: “My sheep know my voice. I know them and they follow me. Nothing that Father has given to me can be taken away from me.” It is a source of hope and joy to know in my heart that whatever happens, even if it seems impossible because of what happens around me or in me, I still hear this voice. He knows me and I do follow and that no force can turn me away from Him because the Father has given me into His hands.