Setting off an Explosion of a Cosmic Alleluia

“…What we really need are people who are inwardly seized by Christianity,
who experience it as joy and hope, who have thus become lovers. And these we call saints.”
-Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)

As the rising bell woke me up one morning, I rubbed my sleepy eyes and glanced over to a framed quote each Sister of Life has in her room. It reads, “There can be no Sisters of Life without joy.” They are the words of our founder, John Cardinal O’Connor, who felt strongly about this fruit of the Spirit. As religious, we begin our day in the chapel in the Eucharistic presence of Jesus. He is the source of our joy.  Cardinal O’ Connor was not alone in recognizing the importance of joy, particularly in religious life.
A letter to inaugurate the Year of Consecrated Life begins with the words of Pope Francis to consecrated men and women, “I want to say one word to you and this word is joy. Wherever consecrated people are, there is always joy!”
Leaning heavily on the teachings from his first Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Guadium, The Joy of the Gospel, the letter entitled, REJOICE! calls religious men and women to be deeply rooted in joy. “The source of joy must be found in prayer, charity and unceasing thanksgiving,” it says.
Why is joy the most compelling witness for religious life? The Holy Father says, “religious follow the Lord in a special way, in a prophetic way. It is this witness that I expect of you.” Each consecrated person lives a spousal union with God; actually lives the Paschal Mystery – and in this truth, which should fill us with awe and holy terror, there is also a deep-seated joy. It is the proper response for being followers of Jesus Christ and living in His love in this intimate and exclusive way.
“The final triumph of God and the marriage of the Lamb will complete every joy and exultation, setting off an explosion of a cosmic Alleluia.” Eye has not seen, ear has not heard… this “cosmic Alleluia.” What an incredible thought to make us tremble at the reality, which consecrated souls lives on this side of heaven.

It is precisely this earth shattering (literally) truth that allows us to live with this immense joy, which transcends all external circumstances, desolations and sorrows. If it is lived well and witnessed authentically, consecrated souls can be, as Pope Francis says, “men and women able to wake up the world.”
As we prepare our hearts to enter into this new liturgical year, this Year of Consecrated Life, latent with grace for the entire world, may we be a witness of the joy, which Pope Francis beckons us to live.  If the Lord is calling you to be a part of setting off this “explosion of a cosmic Alleluia” may you have the grace to respond to His love with great joy.
Know that as we make our way into the chapel each morning, we carry you in our hearts and place your intentions before Him at the altar. May your hearts be filled with gratitude and joy this Thanksgiving and always. May the Lamb be praised. Alleluia!
John Cardinal O’ Connor, help us be joyful witnesses and pray for us.