When we look up joy in the Catholic Catechism it says “see also: Happiness”, and the two combined give us seven entries. As I was reading through them, I reflected once more on how intertwined and inter-related everything is.
One of the entries listed for joy (Paragraph 1829) says:
The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy;
In actuality, the first three of the twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit are charity, joy and peace, so, if joy and peace are not only Fruits of the Holy Spirit but fruit of the first fruit of charity (which is a Fruit of the Holy Spirit) [ have I lost you yet?] 🙂 we can see how one things builds on another, or leads to another, or blossoms out of another.
One of the entries for happiness (Paragraph 1818) says:
The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man;
Now, the entry I quoted for joy is actually found under the larger heading of the Theological Virtue of Charity, and the entry I quoted for happiness is actually found under the larger heading of the Theological Virtue of Hope. So while I am not referring in this post specifically to the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, we can see that everything is a gift – the theological virtues, the gifts and the fruits – and how we respond to these gifts or nurture the seeds of these gifts will be the telling factor in whether or not our garden grows – whether or not cross-pollination will take place and one blossom will produce another, then another, then another…
To me, pollination is a metaphor for practice, for acting upon the gifts received. The Holy Spirit distributes virtues, gifts and fruits as He will, but it is our practice that will lead to growth and to His pouring out of more and more as He witnesses our receptivity and actions. The theological virtues must be practiced; the fruits of the Holy Spirit must be used.
There are so many practices we can put into place to pollinate our garden, but one that I would like to mention here is the practice of gratitude. Expressing our gratitude to God every day is a powerful means of bringing joy and other fruits into our lives, despite whatever obstacles and challenges we may be facing physically, financially, emotionally, etc. If we wake up and give thanks to God every morning and throughout the day, mentally review five things we are grateful for every night before we fall asleep, or list five to ten things every day in a Gratitude Journal, we will see a remarkable flowering take place.
Not too long ago my friend JT sent me a link to this video in which Brother David Steindl-Rast gives a beautiful reflection on gratitude as a spiritual practice and its relationship to joy. Thank you, JT! I had not seen this particular video before, but I had been introduced to Brother David a few years ago at the site Gratefulness.org. It’s a wonderful site, and if you take a peek in its left sidebar, you’ll also see a link to something I think many of you may love – the Hours with “angelic company” and beautiful Gregorian chants.