COR THOUGHTS 234: Rejoice Always and Pray Without Ceasing


This coming weekend we celebrate Gaudete (“rejoice”) Sunday. In the second reading St. Paul pairs the call to “rejoice always” with the call to “pray without ceasing.” A true understanding of Christian prayer is the doorway into a true understanding of Christian joy. Pope Benedict XVI reminded us: “The Fathers of the Church say that prayer, properly understood, is nothing other than becoming a longing for God.” As Saint Augustine put it, “Desire is your prayer; and if your desire is without ceasing, your prayer will also be without ceasing.” Christian joy comes to us as we learn to let go of all of our God-substitutes (our idols) and direct our deep desire for love and happiness toward the one who alone can fulfill it: “in my God is the joy of my soul” (first reading); “My soul rejoices in my God” (resp. psalm). This is what it means to be made “perfectly holy” and blameless in “spirit, soul, and body”: to desire nothing but “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (second reading). At his coming, he will be clothed “like a bridegroom” and we will be clothed “like a bride” and we will “rejoice heartily in the Lord” (first reading).