Thought for the Day – 24 August – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
“Christianity is neither sad nor pessimistic.
On the contrary, it is the harbinger of “great joy,” (Lk 2:10) to quote the expression used by the Angels when they announced to the shepherds, the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.
Obviously, this joy is something quite distinct from sensible pleasure.
It is the spiritual happiness which accompanies an innocent life, sorrow for sin, or suffering bravely borne for the love of God.
Any other form of earthly happiess can never be more than a partial and transitory pleasure, capable of satisfying the human heart completely.
When Christianity urges us to be detached from worldly objects, however, it does not condemn the joys of the present life.
The historian Tacitus, was very far from the truth when, in the description in his Annals of the burning of Rome at the time of Nero, he accused the Christians of hating the human race, although not of having set fire to the city.
Although the teaching of Christianity is preoccupied with the joys of Heaven, it does not frown upon legitimate worldly pleasures.
Jesus “went about doing good and healing all who were in the power of the devil” (Acts 10:38).
He loved to give joy to others and sanctified the marriage feast of Cana by His presence and by working His first miracle there.
He restored happiness to the widow of Naim, by raising her son to life and to Martha and Mary, by giving them back their brother, Lazarus, who had been dead for four days.
He spent His entire life giving happiness to others.
There is only one kind of merriment which Christianity cannot countenance and that is, the inordinate pleasure which leads to sin, or, is the result of sin.
This kind of pleasure has no kinship with spiritual joy.
It is a momentary exaltation, which soon disappears and leaves behind disillusionment and remorse.
It leads inevitably to sorrow; this is a chastisement from God which can only become meritorious if it is offered up in expiation.
“The end of joy may be sorrow,” says the Book of Proverbs (14:13)
For this reason, let us seek spiritual joys, not those which lead to sin, nor those, which are the result of sin.”
Antonio Cardinal Bacci