Joy and Happiness

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Yesterday saw the release of Amoris Laetitia – the Joy of Love – the papal exhortation following the Synod on Marriage and Family Life. Pope Francis focuses again on the quality of joy which is encountered when we live our lives in relationship with God. Joy is an Easter emotion.

A few years ago I was presenting an assembly in a primary school. Part of the assembly was to think about the difference between joy and happiness, and following a few examples, one of the children, a girl about 7 years old, offered her own thoughts. The example she gave was this:

A person visiting an old relative who was very sick and dying would feel joy because although they are sad they are also glad to be kind and to help the old person. Helping and caring gives them joy.

I think it is a beautiful insight into the way joy can be revealed in our lives – sometimes it is revealed through happiness, but joy has a deeper quality to it which can encompass suffering because it is full of hope. Love is stronger than anything, even than death, and joy is a witness to that.

In the encyclical ‘the Joy of the Gospel’ Pope Francis does not shy away from the hard-hitting challenge of Gospel living, and in Amoris Laetitia he does not shy away from the challenge and struggle of marriage, relationships and family life.

One Response to “Joy and Happiness”

  1. Margaret Claver Says:

    Thanks Lynne,
    I’ve just finished a conversation with a woman whose mother has just died. She expressed her joy for her mother that she has gone to join her husband,2daughters and grandson in Heaven, even though for herself she is sad that her mother for whom she has cared and with whom she had a very happy relationship is no longer with her. Real love can rejoice with a loved one in their joy, regardless of personal sadness. I guess this is the joy of the 4th week of the spiritual exercises.

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