The Art of Joy: Inspiration and Practical Tools to Cultivate a Life Filled with Passion and Joy

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In this modern age they can see nothing but prevarication and ruin … We feel that we must disagree with those prophets of doom who are always forecasting disaster, as though the end of the world were at hand. 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.

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-centred lack of trust. This is another painful kind of desert. But family and the workplace can also be a parched place where faith nonetheless has to be preserved and communicated.

At times, this becomes a heavy cross, but it was from the cross, from his pierced side, that our Lord gave himself to us as a source of living water. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of hope! Yes to the new relationships brought by Christ. Greater possibilities for communication thus turn into greater possibilities for encounter and solidarity for everyone. If we were able to take this route, it would be so good, so soothing, so liberating and hope-filled!

To go out of ourselves and to join others is healthy for us. To be self-enclosed is to taste the bitter poison of immanence, and humanity will be worse for every selfish choice we make.

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Many try to escape from others and take refuge in the comfort of their privacy or in a small circle of close friends, renouncing the realism of the social aspect of the Gospel. For just as some people want a purely spiritual Christ, without flesh and without the cross, they also want their interpersonal relationships provided by sophisticated equipment, by screens and systems which can be turned on and off on command. Meanwhile, the Gospel tells us constantly to run the risk of a face-to-face encounter with others, with their physical presence which challenges us, with their pain and their pleas, with their joy which infects us in our close and continuous interaction.

True faith in the incarnate Son of God is inseparable from self-giving, from membership in the community, from service, from reconciliation with others. The Son of God, by becoming flesh, summoned us to the revolution of tenderness. Isolation, which is a version of immanentism, can find expression in a false autonomy which has no place for God. The return to the sacred and the quest for spirituality which mark our own time are ambiguous phenomena.

Unless these people find in the Church a spirituality which can offer healing and liberation, and fill them with life and peace, while at the same time summoning them to fraternal communion and missionary fruitfulness, they will end up by being taken in by solutions which neither make life truly human nor give glory to God. Genuine forms of popular religiosity are incarnate, since they are born of the incarnation of Christian faith in popular culture. For this reason they entail a personal relationship, not with vague spiritual energies or powers, but with God, with Christ, with Mary, with the saints.

These devotions are fleshy, they have a face. They are capable of fostering relationships and not just enabling escapism. One important challenge is to show that the solution will never be found in fleeing from a personal and committed relationship with God which at the same time commits us to serving others. This happens frequently nowadays, as believers seek to hide or keep apart from others, or quietly flit from one place to another or from one task to another, without creating deep and stable bonds. We need to help others to realize that the only way is to learn how to encounter others with the right attitude, which is to accept and esteem them as companions along the way, without interior resistance.

Better yet, it means learning to find Jesus in the faces of others, in their voices, in their pleas. And learning to suffer in the embrace of the crucified Jesus whenever we are unjustly attacked or meet with ingratitude, never tiring of our decision to live in fraternity. There indeed we find true healing, since the way to relate to others which truly heals instead of debilitating us, is a mystical fraternity, a contemplative fraternity. It is a fraternal love capable of seeing the sacred grandeur of our neighbour, of finding God in every human being, of tolerating the nuisances of life in common by clinging to the love of God, of opening the heart to divine love and seeking the happiness of others just as their heavenly Father does.

Mt We are called to bear witness to a constantly new way of living together in fidelity to the Gospel. It takes on many forms, depending on the kinds of persons and groups into which it seeps. Since it is based on carefully cultivated appearances, it is not always linked to outward sin; from without, everything appears as it should be. This worldliness can be fuelled in two deeply interrelated ways. One is the attraction of gnosticism, a purely subjective faith whose only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information which are meant to console and enlighten, but which ultimately keep one imprisoned in his or her own thoughts and feelings.

The other is the self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying.

In neither case is one really concerned about Jesus Christ or others. These are manifestations of an anthropocentric immanentism. It is impossible to think that a genuine evangelizing thrust could emerge from these adulterated forms of Christianity. In this way, the life of the Church turns into a museum piece or something which is the property of a select few. In others, this spiritual worldliness lurks behind a fascination with social and political gain, or pride in their ability to manage practical affairs, or an obsession with programmes of self-help and self-realization.

It can also translate into a concern to be seen, into a social life full of appearances, meetings, dinners and receptions. The mark of Christ, incarnate, crucified and risen, is not present; closed and elite groups are formed, and no effort is made to go forth and seek out those who are distant or the immense multitudes who thirst for Christ. Evangelical fervour is replaced by the empty pleasure of complacency and self-indulgence. This way of thinking also feeds the vainglory of those who are content to have a modicum of power and would rather be the general of a defeated army than a mere private in a unit which continues to fight.

How often we dream up vast apostolic projects, meticulously planned, just like defeated generals! We indulge in endless fantasies and we lose contact with the real lives and difficulties of our people. Those who have fallen into this worldliness look on from above and afar, they reject the prophecy of their brothers and sisters, they discredit those who raise questions, they constantly point out the mistakes of others and they are obsessed by appearances. Their hearts are open only to the limited horizon of their own immanence and interests, and as a consequence they neither learn from their sins nor are they genuinely open to forgiveness.

This is a tremendous corruption disguised as a good. We need to avoid it by making the Church constantly go out from herself, keeping her mission focused on Jesus Christ, and her commitment to the poor. God save us from a worldly Church with superficial spiritual and pastoral trappings! This stifling worldliness can only be healed by breathing in the pure air of the Holy Spirit who frees us from self-centredness cloaked in an outward religiosity bereft of God.

Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of the Gospel! How many wars take place within the people of God and in our different communities! In our neighbourhoods and in the workplace, how many wars are caused by envy and jealousy, even among Christians! Spiritual worldliness leads some Christians to war with other Christians who stand in the way of their quest for power, prestige, pleasure and economic security. Instead of belonging to the whole Church in all its rich variety, they belong to this or that group which thinks itself different or special.

Our world is being torn apart by wars and violence, and wounded by a widespread individualism which divides human beings, setting them against one another as they pursue their own well-being. In various countries, conflicts and old divisions from the past are re-emerging.

I especially ask Christians in communities throughout the world to offer a radiant and attractive witness of fraternal communion. Beware of the temptation of jealousy! We are all in the same boat and headed to the same port! Let us ask for the grace to rejoice in the gifts of each, which belong to all. Those wounded by historical divisions find it difficult to accept our invitation to forgiveness and reconciliation, since they think that we are ignoring their pain or are asking them to give up their memory and ideals.

But if they see the witness of authentically fraternal and reconciled communities, they will find that witness luminous and attractive. It always pains me greatly to discover how some Christian communities, and even consecrated persons, can tolerate different forms of enmity, division, calumny, defamation, vendetta, jealousy and the desire to impose certain ideas at all costs, even to persecutions which appear as veritable witch hunts.

Whom are we going to evangelize if this is the way we act? Let us ask the Lord to help us understand the law of love. How good it is to have this law! How much good it does us to love one another, in spite of everything. Yes, in spite of everything!

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We all have our likes and dislikes, and perhaps at this very moment we are angry with someone. To pray for a person with whom I am irritated is a beautiful step forward in love, and an act of evangelization. Let us do it today! Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of the ideal of fraternal love! Lay people are, put simply, the vast majority of the people of God. The minority — ordained ministers — are at their service. There has been a growing awareness of the identity and mission of the laity in the Church.

We can count on many lay persons, although still not nearly enough, who have a deeply-rooted sense of community and great fidelity to the tasks of charity, catechesis and the celebration of the faith. At the same time, a clear awareness of this responsibility of the laity, grounded in their baptism and confirmation, does not appear in the same way in all places.

In some cases, it is because lay persons have not been given the formation needed to take on important responsibilities. In others, it is because in their particular Churches room has not been made for them to speak and to act, due to an excessive clericalism which keeps them away from decision-making. Even if many are now involved in the lay ministries, this involvement is not reflected in a greater penetration of Christian values in the social, political and economic sectors. It often remains tied to tasks within the Church, without a real commitment to applying the Gospel to the transformation of society.

The formation of the laity and the evangelization of professional and intellectual life represent a significant pastoral challenge. The Church acknowledges the indispensable contribution which women make to society through the sensitivity, intuition and other distinctive skill sets which they, more than men, tend to possess. I think, for example, of the special concern which women show to others, which finds a particular, even if not exclusive, expression in motherhood.

I readily acknowledge that many women share pastoral responsibilities with priests, helping to guide people, families and groups and offering new contributions to theological reflection. But we need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church. Demands that the legitimate rights of women be respected, based on the firm conviction that men and women are equal in dignity, present the Church with profound and challenging questions which cannot be lightly evaded.

The reservation of the priesthood to males, as a sign of Christ the Spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist, is not a question open to discussion, but it can prove especially divisive if sacramental power is too closely identified with power in general. The configuration of the priest to Christ the head — namely, as the principal source of grace — does not imply an exaltation which would set him above others.

Youth ministry, as traditionally organized, has also suffered the impact of social changes. Young people often fail to find responses to their concerns, needs, problems and hurts in the usual structures. As adults, we find it hard to listen patiently to them, to appreciate their concerns and demands, and to speak to them in a language they can understand. For the same reason, our efforts in the field of education do not produce the results expected. The rise and growth of associations and movements mostly made up of young people can be seen as the work of the Holy Spirit, who blazes new trails to meet their expectations and their search for a deep spirituality and a more real sense of belonging.

Even if it is not always easy to approach young people, progress has been made in two areas: the awareness that the entire community is called to evangelize and educate the young, and the urgent need for the young to exercise greater leadership. We should recognize that despite the present crisis of commitment and communal relationships, many young people are making common cause before the problems of our world and are taking up various forms of activism and volunteer work.

Some take part in the life of the Church as members of service groups and various missionary initiatives in their own dioceses and in other places. Many places are experiencing a dearth of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. This is often due to a lack of contagious apostolic fervour in communities which results in a cooling of enthusiasm and attractiveness. Wherever there is life, fervour and a desire to bring Christ to others, genuine vocations will arise. Even in parishes where priests are not particularly committed or joyful, the fraternal life and fervour of the community can awaken in the young a desire to consecrate themselves completely to God and to the preaching of the Gospel.

This is particularly true if such a living community prays insistently for vocations and courageously proposes to its young people the path of special consecration. On the other hand, despite the scarcity of vocations, today we are increasingly aware of the need for a better process of selecting candidates to the priesthood. Seminaries cannot accept candidates on the basis of any motivation whatsoever, especially if those motivations have to do with affective insecurity or the pursuit of power, human glory or economic well-being. As I mentioned above, I have not sought to offer a complete diagnosis, but I invite communities to complete and enrich these perspectives on the basis of their awareness of the challenges facing them and their neighbours.

It is my hope that, in doing so, they will realize that whenever we attempt to read the signs of the times it is helpful to listen to young people and the elderly. Both represent a source of hope for every people. The elderly bring with them memory and the wisdom of experience, which warns us not to foolishly repeat our past mistakes. Challenges exist to be overcome! Let us be realists, but without losing our joy, our boldness and our hope-filled commitment. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of missionary vigour! The entire people of God proclaims the Gospel. Evangelization is the task of the Church.

The Church, as the agent of evangelization, is more than an organic and hierarchical institution; she is first and foremost a people advancing on its pilgrim way towards God. She is certainly a mystery rooted in the Trinity, yet she exists concretely in history as a people of pilgrims and evangelizers, transcending any institutional expression, however necessary. I would like to dwell briefly on this way of understanding the Church, whose ultimate foundation is in the free and gracious initiative of God.

The salvation which God offers us is the work of his mercy. No human efforts, however good they may be, can enable us to merit so great a gift. God, by his sheer grace, draws us to himself and makes us one with him. The Church is sent by Jesus Christ as the sacrament of the salvation offered by God. The salvation which God has wrought, and the Church joyfully proclaims, is for everyone. He has chosen to call them together as a people and not as isolated individuals. God attracts us by taking into account the complex interweaving of personal relationships entailed in the life of a human community.

This people which God has chosen and called is the Church. Jesus did not tell the apostles to form an exclusive and elite group. To those who feel far from God and the Church, to all those who are fearful or indifferent, I would like to say this: the Lord, with great respect and love, is also calling you to be a part of his people! The Church must be a place of mercy freely given, where everyone can feel welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged to live the good life of the Gospel.

The People of God is incarnate in the peoples of the earth, each of which has its own culture. It has to do with the lifestyle of a given society, the specific way in which its members relate to one another, to other creatures and to God.

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  4. In these first two Christian millennia, countless peoples have received the grace of faith, brought it to flower in their daily lives and handed it on in the language of their own culture. Whenever a community receives the message of salvation, the Holy Spirit enriches its culture with the transforming power of the Gospel. When properly understood, cultural diversity is not a threat to Church unity.

    The Holy Spirit, sent by the Father and the Son, transforms our hearts and enables us to enter into the perfect communion of the blessed Trinity, where all things find their unity. He builds up the communion and harmony of the people of God. The same Spirit is that harmony, just as he is the bond of love between the Father and the Son. Evangelization joyfully acknowledges these varied treasures which the Holy Spirit pours out upon the Church. We would not do justice to the logic of the incarnation if we thought of Christianity as monocultural and monotonous.

    While it is true that some cultures have been closely associated with the preaching of the Gospel and the development of Christian thought, the revealed message is not identified with any of them; its content is transcultural. Hence in the evangelization of new cultures, or cultures which have not received the Christian message, it is not essential to impose a specific cultural form, no matter how beautiful or ancient it may be, together with the Gospel. The message that we proclaim always has a certain cultural dress, but we in the Church can sometimes fall into a needless hallowing of our own culture, and thus show more fanaticism than true evangelizing zeal.

    In all the baptized, from first to last, the sanctifying power of the Spirit is at work, impelling us to evangelization. The people of God is holy thanks to this anointing, which makes it infallible in credendo. This means that it does not err in faith, even though it may not find words to explain that faith. The Spirit guides it in truth and leads it to salvation. The presence of the Spirit gives Christians a certain connaturality with divine realities, and a wisdom which enables them to grasp those realities intuitively, even when they lack the wherewithal to give them precise expression.

    In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples cf. All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization, and it would be insufficient to envisage a plan of evangelization to be carried out by professionals while the rest of the faithful would simply be passive recipients. The new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized. So what are we waiting for? Of course, all of us are called to mature in our work as evangelizers. We want to have better training, a deepening love and a clearer witness to the Gospel.

    In this sense, we ought to let others be constantly evangelizing us. But this does not mean that we should postpone the evangelizing mission; rather, each of us should find ways to communicate Jesus wherever we are. All of us are called to offer others an explicit witness to the saving love of the Lord, who despite our imperfections offers us his closeness, his word and his strength, and gives meaning to our lives.

    In your heart you know that it is not the same to live without him; what you have come to realize, what has helped you to live and given you hope, is what you also need to communicate to others. Our falling short of perfection should be no excuse; on the contrary, mission is a constant stimulus not to remain mired in mediocrity but to continue growing. The evangelizing power of popular piety. In the same way, we can see that the different peoples among whom the Gospel has been inculturated are active collective subjects or agents of evangelization. This is because each people is the creator of their own culture and the protagonist of their own history.

    Culture is a dynamic reality which a people constantly recreates; each generation passes on a whole series of ways of approaching different existential situations to the next generation, which must in turn reformulate it as it confronts its own challenges. Each portion of the people of God, by translating the gift of God into its own life and in accordance with its own genius, bears witness to the faith it has received and enriches it with new and eloquent expressions.

    This is an ongoing and developing process, of which the Holy Spirit is the principal agent. Popular piety enables us to see how the faith, once received, becomes embodied in a culture and is constantly passed on. Once looked down upon, popular piety came to be appreciated once more in the decades following the Council. The Aparecida Document describes the riches which the Holy Spirit pours forth in popular piety by his gratuitous initiative. To understand this reality we need to approach it with the gaze of the Good Shepherd, who seeks not to judge but to love. Only from the affective connaturality born of love can we appreciate the theological life present in the piety of Christian peoples, especially among their poor.

    I think of the steadfast faith of those mothers tending their sick children who, though perhaps barely familiar with the articles of the creed, cling to a rosary; or of all the hope poured into a candle lighted in a humble home with a prayer for help from Mary, or in the gaze of tender love directed to Christ crucified. They are the manifestation of a theological life nourished by the working of the Holy Spirit who has been poured into our hearts cf. Rom Underlying popular piety, as a fruit of the inculturated Gospel, is an active evangelizing power which we must not underestimate: to do so would be to fail to recognize the work of the Holy Spirit.

    Instead, we are called to promote and strengthen it, in order to deepen the never-ending process of inculturation. Expressions of popular piety have much to teach us; for those who are capable of reading them, they are a locus theologicus which demands our attention, especially at a time when we are looking to the new evangelization. Today, as the Church seeks to experience a profound missionary renewal, there is a kind of preaching which falls to each of us as a daily responsibility.

    It has to do with bringing the Gospel to the people we meet, whether they be our neighbours or complete strangers. This is the informal preaching which takes place in the middle of a conversation, something along the lines of what a missionary does when visiting a home. Being a disciple means being constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others, and this can happen unexpectedly and in any place: on the street, in a city square, during work, on a journey.

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    In this preaching, which is always respectful and gentle, the first step is personal dialogue, when the other person speaks and shares his or her joys, hopes and concerns for loved ones, or so many other heartfelt needs. This message has to be shared humbly as a testimony on the part of one who is always willing to learn, in the awareness that the message is so rich and so deep that it always exceeds our grasp. At times the message can be presented directly, at times by way of a personal witness or gesture, or in a way which the Holy Spirit may suggest in that particular situation.

    If it seems prudent and if the circumstances are right, this fraternal and missionary encounter could end with a brief prayer related to the concerns which the person may have expressed. We should not think, however, that the Gospel message must always be communicated by fixed formulations learned by heart or by specific words which express an absolutely invariable content.

    If the Gospel is embedded in a culture, the message is no longer transmitted solely from person to person. In countries where Christianity is a minority, then, along with encouraging each of the baptized to proclaim the Gospel, particular Churches should actively promote at least preliminary forms of inculturation.

    The ultimate aim should be that the Gospel, as preached in categories proper to each culture, will create a new synthesis with that particular culture. This is always a slow process and at we can be overly fearful. But if we allow doubts and fears to dampen our courage, instead of being creative we will remain comfortable and make no progress whatsoever. In this case we will not take an active part in historical processes, but become mere onlookers as the Church gradually stagnates.

    Charisms at the service of a communion which evangelizes. The Holy Spirit also enriches the entire evangelizing Church with different charisms. These gifts are meant to renew and build up the Church. Something truly new brought about by the Spirit need not overshadow other gifts and spiritualities in making itself felt. To the extent that a charism is better directed to the heart of the Gospel, its exercise will be more ecclesial.

    It is in communion, even when this proves painful, that a charism is seen to be authentic and mysteriously fruitful. On the basis of her response to this challenge, the Church can be a model of peace in our world. Differences between persons and communities can sometimes prove uncomfortable, but the Holy Spirit, who is the source of that diversity, can bring forth something good from all things and turn it into an attractive means of evangelization. Diversity must always be reconciled by the help of the Holy Spirit; he alone can raise up diversity, plurality and multiplicity while at the same time bringing about unity.

    When we, for our part, aspire to diversity, we become self-enclosed, exclusive and divisive; similarly, whenever we attempt to create unity on the basis of our human calculations, we end up imposing a monolithic uniformity. Proclaiming the Gospel message to different cultures also involves proclaiming it to professional, scientific and academic circles. This means an encounter between faith, reason and the sciences with a view to developing new approaches and arguments on the issue of credibility, a creative apologetics [] which would encourage greater openness to the Gospel on the part of all.

    When certain categories of reason and the sciences are taken up into the proclamation of the message, these categories then become tools of evangelization; water is changed into wine. Whatever is taken up is not just redeemed, but becomes an instrument of the Spirit for enlightening and renewing the world. It is not enough that evangelizers be concerned to reach each person, or that the Gospel be proclaimed to the cultures as a whole.

    A theology — and not simply a pastoral theology — which is in dialogue with other sciences and human experiences is most important for our discernment on how best to bring the Gospel message to different cultural contexts and groups. In doing so, however, they must always remember that the Church and theology exist to evangelize, and not be content with a desk-bound theology. Universities are outstanding environments for articulating and developing this evangelizing commitment in an interdisciplinary and integrated way. Catholic schools, which always strive to join their work of education with the explicit proclamation of the Gospel, are a most valuable resource for the evangelization of culture, even in those countries and cities where hostile situations challenge us to greater creativity in our search for suitable methods.

    Let us now look at preaching within the liturgy, which calls for serious consideration by pastors. I will dwell in particular, and even somewhat meticulously, on the homily and its preparation, since so many concerns have been expressed about this important ministry, and we cannot simply ignore them. We know that the faithful attach great importance to it, and that both they and their ordained ministers suffer because of homilies: the laity from having to listen to them and the clergy from having to preach them! It is sad that this is the case. Let us renew our confidence in preaching, based on the conviction that it is God who seeks to reach out to others through the preacher, and that he displays his power through human words.

    Saint Paul speaks forcefully about the need to preach, since the Lord desires to reach other people by means of our word cf. By his words our Lord won over the hearts of the people; they came to hear him from all parts cf. Mk ; they were amazed at his teachings cf. Mk , and they sensed that he spoke to them as one with authority cf. Mk The homily takes up once more the dialogue which the Lord has already established with his people. The preacher must know the heart of his community, in order to realize where its desire for God is alive and ardent, as well as where that dialogue, once loving, has been thwarted and is now barren.

    The homily cannot be a form of entertainment like those presented by the media, yet it does need to give life and meaning to the celebration. It is a distinctive genre, since it is preaching situated within the framework of a liturgical celebration; hence it should be brief and avoid taking on the semblance of a speech or a lecture.

    A preacher may be able to hold the attention of his listeners for a whole hour, but in this case his words become more important than the celebration of faith. If the homily goes on too long, it will affect two characteristic elements of the liturgical celebration: its balance and its rhythm. When preaching takes place within the context of the liturgy, it is part of the offering made to the Father and a mediation of the grace which Christ pours out during the celebration. This context demands that preaching should guide the assembly, and the preacher, to a life-changing communion with Christ in the Eucharist.

    This means that the words of the preacher must be measured, so that the Lord, more than his minister, will be the centre of attention. We said that the people of God, by the constant inner working of the Holy Spirit, is constantly evangelizing itself. What are the implications of this principle for preachers? It reminds us that the Church is a mother, and that she preaches in the same way that a mother speaks to her child, knowing that the child trusts that what she is teaching is for his or her benefit, for children know that they are loved.

    Moreover, a good mother can recognize everything that God is bringing about in her children, she listens to their concerns and learns from them. The spirit of love which reigns in a family guides both mother and child in their conversations; therein they teach and learn, experience correction and grow in appreciation of what is good. Something similar happens in a homily. Christian preaching thus finds in the heart of people and their culture a source of living water, which helps the preacher to know what must be said and how to say it.

    This language is a kind of music which inspires encouragement, strength and enthusiasm. This setting, both maternal and ecclesial, in which the dialogue between the Lord and his people takes place, should be encouraged by the closeness of the preacher, the warmth of his tone of voice, the unpretentiousness of his manner of speaking, the joy of his gestures. Even if the homily at times may be somewhat tedious, if this maternal and ecclesial spirit is present, it will always bear fruit, just as the tedious counsels of a mother bear fruit, in due time, in the hearts of her children.

    One cannot but admire the resources that the Lord used to dialogue with his people, to reveal his mystery to all and to attract ordinary people by his lofty teachings and demands. The Lord truly enjoys talking with his people; the preacher should strive to communicate that same enjoyment to his listeners. Dialogue is much more than the communication of a truth. It arises from the enjoyment of speaking and it enriches those who express their love for one another through the medium of words.

    The Art of Noticing

    This is an enrichment which does not consist in objects but in persons who share themselves in dialogue. In the homily, truth goes hand in hand with beauty and goodness. Far from dealing with abstract truths or cold syllogisms, it communicates the beauty of the images used by the Lord to encourage the practise of good. The memory of the faithful, like that of Mary, should overflow with the wondrous things done by God.

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    Their hearts, growing in hope from the joyful and practical exercise of the love which they have received, will sense that each word of Scripture is a gift before it is a demand. The challenge of an inculturated preaching consists in proclaiming a synthesis, not ideas or detached values. Where your synthesis is, there lies your heart. The difference between enlightening people with a synthesis and doing so with detached ideas is like the difference between boredom and heartfelt fervour.

    The preacher has the wonderful but difficult task of joining loving hearts, the hearts of the Lord and his people. She has some very inspiring examples of how effective this is in her own life. I won't say that I haven't experienced some results from creative visualization and positive thinking, but I have to watch this magic thinking and take it in stride when it doesn't materialize.

    As I was finishing the book, I got blood on it and I was the first one to borrow the book. I did my best to clean it up with white-out and stuff. Nov 22, Mia rated it it was amazing. I thought this book was filled with practical tools to apply to every-day life. Agapi Stassinopoulous must be an old soul. She shares her insights with such wisdom and love; it's like she's lived a thousand lives before.

    I think this book is good for anyone seeking ways to relax and meditate practically particularly for those who may have struggled to adopt other forms of meditation and to also give themselves a break. I think one of the hardest things to do in this life is actually be kind to I thought this book was filled with practical tools to apply to every-day life.

    I think one of the hardest things to do in this life is actually be kind to yourself, and Agapi gives you tools to do just that. I found the book to be very helpful and happily recommend it! Jan 09, Pauline rated it it was ok. This is an attractive little book and I liked the short chapters plus recommendations for actions which accompanied some of them.

    However, it was written very much from the author's personal perspective and unfortunately only a minority of the topics resonated with me. I don't think the guided meditation sections worked well in book form either; they might flow better in audio. All that said, the author's mother sounds absolutely delightful and I would enjoy reading more about her approach to li This is an attractive little book and I liked the short chapters plus recommendations for actions which accompanied some of them.

    All that said, the author's mother sounds absolutely delightful and I would enjoy reading more about her approach to life. I got this book because I recently started meditating every day and wanted to learn more about meditation. This seemed highly rated so I thought, "Why not?

    At least, it doesn't really discuss meditation practices. It's more about daily practices and ways of thinking about your life to help improve your overall mental state. There was a lot of overlap with Budd I got this book because I recently started meditating every day and wanted to learn more about meditation. There was a lot of overlap with Buddhist philosophy that reminds me a bit of Pema Chodron teachings, but this book is definitely Agapi's own take on things. I personally believe Agapi's belief system is more useful to more people than Chodron's books.

    Agapi isn't as focused on becoming okay with suffering. Instead, she focuses a lot more about what you can do to improve your life and the way you feel right now. The book covered a wide range of topics, from health and happiness to money and manifestation. I don't necessarily agree with everything Agapi says, but I feel like I gained a whole lot of amazing insight, and there are tons of great ideas.

    The meditations are nice. They're written out, which makes it hard to follow along as a reader you can't close your eyes and read the meditation at the same time though I bet Agapi speaks them in the audiobook version. Here's a quote that sort of summarizes her philosophy: "Being wealthy has to do with being educated, sharing what you have, a thirst for knowledge, learning about the arts, knowing that you have love and friendships and gifts and talents that are unique to you. Jul 20, Effie Pasagiannis rated it it was amazing.

    Each chapter is a treasure waiting to be unveiled. Agape's wisdom from a lifetime of experience as well as her own background in psychology and spirituality shines through. Like a best friend, her words, meditation and writing exercises gently nudge the reader to a higher state of being. I have always been skeptical of the efficacy of self-help books, but this goes beyond the self-help realm to something more elevated and universally true. It speaks to our universal sensitivities, disappointment Each chapter is a treasure waiting to be unveiled.

    It speaks to our universal sensitivities, disappointments and the eternal flame of hope that we carry within us in spite of all the hurdles life presents. Through the meditations and clever questions, we find our own answers. Agape's book came to me at a time when I needed it the most; a period of healing from something that left me devoid of joy and alienated from my inner truth.

    Her book was soul medicine, comforting and guiding me along the way of recovery to a place where I am now thriving. I will never forget this one and will definitely be a reference source I can go back to whenever I need a refresher. Nov 22, Catherine Basu rated it it was amazing. Having since worked through all the meditations and often using them as part of my daily routine, I'm so glad I purchased this book. It has definitely lived up to its promise. I always feel calmer, happier and more centered after reading a chapter. Highly recommended to anyone looking to feel more present and navigate I purchased this book shortly after the New Year, because I found the idea of waking up to the JOY of me vs.

    Highly recommended to anyone looking to feel more present and navigate our always "on" world of technology with more grace and ease. And if Agapi stops by your town on her book tour? Don't miss meeting her in person! I picked up this book after reading her book, Unbinding the Heart, which I was inspired to read after hearing her speak a few years earlier.

    Wake Up to the Joy of You: 52 Meditations and Practices for a Calmer, Happier Life

    Being in the same room as Agapi is an entirely different, inspiring experience and one not to be missed. Jan 11, LH Sardone rated it did not like it. I am disappointed in the audio version, read by the author. She is not the easiest to understand, and her text is liberal with generalizations. Her speaking pace through the first two meditations was a race against time. There are no pauses anywhere for the listener to reflect on a suggestion before she is off in another direction. I felt more like I was with a hypnotist wannabe, telling me how I will feel and what I will see she just never stopped talking.


    The use of loud, annoying music as bac I am disappointed in the audio version, read by the author. The use of loud, annoying music as background in the meditations also makes no sense. Between the relentless pace and distracting music, I just gave up on this publication. I am new to meditation, and developing my practice into a daily habit using a limited group of guided recordings from a local practitioner with good results. Dec 23, Liz P rated it it was ok.

    This book could be uplifting for the right audience. I wasn't it I guess. I enjoyed the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. She does talk about herself a lot and I grew tired of the amount of times she mentioned her failed relationships and failed casting calls.

    Maybe she could've used other life experiences to keep it interesting? I did like reading about her mom. There was a fair amount of helpful tips that I found motivating. I'm a fan of meditation but I just wasn't feeling it with this This book could be uplifting for the right audience. I'm a fan of meditation but I just wasn't feeling it with this book.

    Jan 17, Lindsey rated it really liked it. This books is 52 different sections that are meant to be read one per week to help you find calm in yourself and gives you a different meditation to follow. It is a really great way to get into meditation and really does help you look into yourself and find a happier place for yourself. I chose to read it all at once and use the meditations that called to me, but I know I will come back to this book often to use different ones. I'm just starting meditating and I found this to be really helpful. I received this book from Blogging for Books for an honest review.

    Jan 17, Jane Laskey rated it it was amazing. This book saved me in a dark time. Somehow, whatever page I opened it to was exactly what I needed to read that day. It includes a chapter with essay and meditation for every week of the year, but I gobbled it up like a starving woman, sometimes reading several in a day. Thank you, Agapi. Apr 18, Yulia rated it it was amazing. This book is exactly what the name says, it brings JOY to a reader.

    This book calms me down, make me come back to my breath and my senses, and in a very simple language delivers the most precious nuggets of wisdom! I keep this book by my bed, and every time I reread a chapter I feel like I discover something new for myself Feb 09, Adrianna rated it liked it. A great read that once I got into it, I flew through it. I would say that it would be my go to self help book for trying to find my passion as well as relations with other people.

    It is at last beginning to be realized that great wealth is not necessary for a happy and satisfactory life. Vogt, Blessed by Less: Clearing Your Life of Clutter by Living Lightly "Many people who have a lot of money are unhappy, however those people who have a lot of positive experiences are always happy. The world is deceived into thinking that things in large quantities are always better than things in small quantities. Things and possessions do not create happiness nor can they buy love nor can they replace the attention and time taken away from family needs and growth.

    If you find yourself with less and less time and more and more possessions, you may need to reexamine your balanced life criteria before it's too late. Even though you would love to go spend your money and buy more, it is not necessary for your happiness. The money you earn is secondary when you love your work. Money can never buy happiness, or peace of mind. Happiness is something internal, while money is something external. Doesn't everybody? At least we all profess to know that our things won't bring us true satisfaction. The joy, the moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits.

    It is a choice you make each day when you open your eyes, and that single decision will drive much of your life in both direct and indirect ways. Collins, Reaching the Peak in 20 days "If you want people to love and respect you and if you want to attract happiness and success in your life, then it must be evident in your speech.

    All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself. True success must first involve a deep understanding of ourselves. In fact, happiness leads to more success in every area of your life. Being perfect would mean you have absolutely nothing to aim and strive for. So by first focusing on what makes us happy, we become much better at everything we do! Desire and fear are the roots of unhappiness, when you fulfill a desire or eliminate the causes of fear you tend to be happy for a certain period, no matter how short it may be, you are in absolute peace and true happiness.

    Happiness shared is the flower. I wrote down 'happy'. They told me I didn't understand the assignment and I told them they didn't understand life. Christensen "Traditions nourish family relationships by making each family member feel the perennial happiness that doing things together can bring. Maxwell "The secret of a happy home is that members of the family learn to give and receive love.

    Fortunately, they absorb our contentment just as readily. Only in a happy home life can complete contentment be found. Koppliln "A happy family is but an earlier heaven. The little things really do matter. A thousand little things add up into one big thing. So be sure to appreciate the little things in life and let the brief moments of happiness that the little things give you lead to a great deal of happiness. He takes the good with the bad and is able to steer his thoughts towards the path that will be more beneficial for him. The only common ground these words need to share is that they are positive rather than negative.

    You do not have to wait until you get home or go to the gym to laugh. When you need to deflate a tense moment or to reshape your thinking about an issue or task, a great big belly laugh is just what is called for. Perhaps if we were not mortal, happiness would be enough, but our mortality causes us to want to be connected, to know that it matters that we were here. And it's often in those battles that we are most alive: it's on the frontlines of our lives that we earn wisdom, create joy, forge friendships, discover happiness, find love, and do purposeful work. Feelings of happiness, love, gratitude, compassion, self-respect, security, self-reliance and self-confidence, and satisfaction are wholesome and constructive.

    In other words, when you give happiness you receive it too. Popular Pages. Privacy Policy. Pursuit Of Happiness Quotes "Making decisions based on where you want to be moves you closer to happiness naturally. Inspirational Quotes about Life and Happiness "There is a whole new kind of life ahead, full of experiences just waiting to happen. Quotes about Finding Happiness "As you deliberately embrace positive and open convictions and change your thoughts from negative to positive, you will feel more positive, adjusted and happy.

    Quotes about Happiness and Love "Happiness doesn't always have to come in the end.