Sunday, December 13, 2009


Today is Gaudete Sunday, a day in which we are exhorted to "REJOICE."

There will be a day, there will be a time, Zephaniah says, when men and women will “sing aloud” and “shout,” where they will “be glad and rejoice” with all their hearts. This true, authentic joy will well up not as a result of piling up enough money or achieving certain levels of success. No, this lasting joy will flow from the fact that God has found his joy in us, in you!

One of my favorite spiritual authors sums it up beautifully as follows:

It sounds too good to be true. It sounds like pious exaggeration, a salesman's pitch. Instant joy? All you have to do is surrender to God? What's the catch?

There is a catch. It's a big one, but a simple one: you have to really do it, not just think about it.

To do it completely requires something we dislike very much: death. Not the death of the body. The body is not the obstacle. The ego is. Self-will is. We fear giving that up even more than we fear giving up our body to death—even though that ego, the thing St. Paul calls "the old man" in us, or the Adam in us, is the cause of all our misery.

That old self has sold itself to the devil. It's his microphone. It sits there behind our ears chattering away. When we're about to give ourselves to God, it instantly whispers to us: "Careful, now. Hold back. Don't get too close to him. He's dangerous. In fact, he's a killer."

The voice speaks some truth. Even the devil has to begin with some truth in order to twist it into a lie. It's true; God is a killer. If you let him, he will kill your old, selfish, unhappy, bored, wretched, mistrusting, loveless self.

But he will do it only if you want him to; and he will do it only as much as you want him to. God is a gentleman. He will never rape your soul, only woo it.

And when he does, you understand one of the reasons why sex is so different, so special, so holy: it is an image of this, of heaven, of the ultimate meaning and destiny and purpose of your life.

Even the tiny foretaste of heaven that we can all have here on earth by surrendering to God is as much more joyful than the greatest ecstasy sex can give, just as being with your beloved is more joyful than being with her picture.

You either believe all this, or you don't. If you do, then do it! If you don't, then try it. You'll like it.