Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, writes: "One of the more serious temptations which stifles boldness and zeal is a defeatism which turns us into querulous and disillusioned pessimists, "sourpusses". Nobody can go off to battle unless he is fully convinced of victory beforehand. If we start without confidence, we have already lost half the battle and we bury our talents. While painfully aware of our own frailties, we have to march on without giving in, keeping in mind what the Lord said to Saint Paul: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Car 12:9). Christian triumph is always a cross, yet a cross which is at the same time a victorious banner borne with aggressive tenderness against the assaults of evil. The evil spirit of defeatism is brother to the temptation to separate, before its time, the wheat from the weeds; it is the fruit of an anxious and self-centered lack of trust" -Evangelii Gaudium, 85.
How joyful are we? Pope Francis writes this passage in his apostolic exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, but I don't feel very joyful when the Holy Father convicts me of being a sourpuss. Yet, the Holy Father reminds me of the depth of joy which comes through the crosses of my life. In my office hangs a picture which I refer to as "Three Contemplative Smiles" (pictured below). While most people see two of the sisters smiling, they are not sold on the third sister in the middJe. However, is joy onJy expressed through a smile? Indeed, Christian joy is always rooted in a blessed assurance that God will be there for us. Therefore, the smile of the sister in the middle is the smile that we all should have as Christians. What else can make us more joyful than this, the joy of knowing that the victory is already won through the Resurrection of our Lord!
-br. James Martin Nobles, O.P.