Postulants and Novices provides entertainment for the community on the feast of St Louis Bertrand
Happiness occupies too great a place in all human experience to be missing from religious life. All men are made for happiness and aspire only to eternal beatitude. When one leaves the world one is renouncing its insignificant and fleeting pleasures only to discover full and sincere joy.The religious state is a vocation to a greater happiness because it is a call to a higher sanctity.
This divine joy, the fruit of the Holy Ghost, should flourish particularly in Novitiates, where a religious rising generation has need for expansion, eagerness and enthusiasm in the arduous work of its formation. It possesses all varieties of it, there are divine joys and human joys, continual joys and joys only for a day, joys which enrich the soul or simply embellish life.
THE GREAT HAPPINESSTo belong entirely to God and to live only for God: that is more than joy, it is happiness, more than happiness, it should be like a prelude to beatitude. There is the happiness which arises all day long from the three theological virtues, faith, hope and charity. These after all, unite us intimately to God.
Gaudium in veritate: There is happiness in knowing oneself to be a child of the Father, the friend and living member of Jesus Christ, the spouse of the Holy Ghost, the spiritual temple of the Holy Trinity with whom one can live in continual communion.Gaudium in spe: There is happiness in always being able to count upon God, upon His power, His goodness, His mercy, on the abundance of His graces and on the heritage of His heaven.
Gaudium in caritate: There is above all the joy of being able to love God and of approaching closer and closer to His Heart by the royal road of poverty, chastity and obedience. “The only happiness for man on earth,” said the Cure of Ars, “is that of loving God and knowing that He loves us.”All this happiness –which is the essence of Christian living –is experienced, but in the heart of the religious is strengthened and increased tenfold because she has been chosen and blessed by God who has called her to a higher, and for that reason happier, life. For it is from the fullness of life that joy overflows.
Now to add to these great joys are many smaller pleasures of conventual life. There is the pleasure of obliging, rendering service, offering a word of sympathy, consolation or congratulation, of giving a pleasant surprise, for “it is a more blessed thing to give rather than to receive.” (Acts XX, 35)
Family feast provide joys, regaling the mind and the heart, not forgetting the stomach!Another source of healthy gaiety is the daily recreation. The great St Teresa (who’s feast day we celebrated this past week) wished her daughters to use their talents and their minds to enliven community. “We women are already foolish enough by nature, what would happen if we became more so by grace?” “God preserve us,” she said, “from gloomy saints.” Not that community life may always be free from sacrifices and renunciations, but these little crosses, offered to Christ in loving sacrifice, becomes a joy too. Thenceforward “all is grace and all is joy.”
The influence of joy in the spiritual life and especially in the formation of young religious can hardly be overestimated. In the Novitiate joy is a source of light, strength, enthusiasm and emulation. It creates an atmosphere, not indeed of illusions or romantic excitement, but of moral optimism and generosity.St Louis patron of Novitiates pray for us that we may “with glad hearts start to run along the road of the divine precepts, with ineffable sweetness of love” in order to share the glory of the saints in heaven with you.