The virtue of the month for Challenge and Conquest in April is joy. Joy is a state of mind and an orientation of the heart. Joy is deep, not only on the surface. It’s not just about smiling or laughter. Those are outward signs of our inner joy. Joy brings peace in your heart and it is lasting. It is often the result of doing good to others and loving God.

You may have heard the saying “A Christian’s joy is a shared joy.” What does that even mean?   When you do something fun with your friends or family, it is great to talk about it afterwards with those people who were there. Remembering those awesome moments bring back that joy…. and share that joy with those who are listening. That is what we mean by a “shared joy”. Our faith is a shared faith.  As Christians we have the same faith and hope that God loves us and we will be with him one day in heaven. It is a joy we share with millions around the world. We need to remember that we share the joy of our faith with so many others and that we should share the joy of our faith with those who do not yet have that experience.

But how do we become more joyful? Sometimes sadness or grouchiness or even resentment can hit us all hard. Pope Francis  once said that “Joy springs from a grateful heart.”  This may be the key. Everyone wants to be happy and find the secret to always keep a smile on their face and joy in their hearts. Gratitude or being grateful for all the blessing God gives you does make you happier. When we start to be envious or act like we deserve certain things from people, then we find ourselves sad or negative. Selfishness does that. It sucks the joy right out of you.  People who know how to thank other people are usually happier. People who now how to sincerely thank God for everything in their lives are usually those with a smile on their faces. . The quote of the month from St John Paul II  focuses on the link between generosity and joy. He said, “God loves those who find joy in giving”   God loves us all but God loves to see us happy. He knows that when we are generous, then we will have that profound joy. Joy and  selfishness do not seem to work together well.

The Catechism also speaks of another way to find joy  in #1829  “The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy.” So the Church encourages us to be charitable and kind to others. If we do that, the “fruit” will be joy, inner peace and a merciful heart. Mary is a wonderful example of a joyful and charitable heart. The prayer of the Magnificat can be found in Luke 1:46 when Mary arrives to see her cousin Elizabeth. She says, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.”