By: Sister Timothy Marie, O.C.D.

JOY is a special word.  It’s not quite the same as happiness. Definitely not the same as pleasure. There is something profoundly deep hidden within the word “joy”. I wonder why, and I also wonder if other people have felt this subtle difference?  Perhaps you have.

Before the sacrament of Confirmation is conferred by the bishop, confirmation candidates are required to learn their Catholic faith at a deeper level.  The fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit are among the various topics covered and one of these fruits is joy.

This is how I learned the fruits in Catholic School in the 1960s. Yes, I memorized them and, believe it or not, I can still recite them in order today.

QUESTION: What are the fruits of the Holy Spirit?

ANSWER:  The fruits of the Holy Spirit are: Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience, Benignity, Goodness, Long-suffering, Mildness, Faith, Modesty, Self-Control, and Chastity.

These many years later, after having gone through so many of life’s experiences, I understand now so much more of what these fruits of the Holy Spirit are and do.  They are life-changing.  They are like the “frosting on the cake” of Catholic Christian living. They make life so much more meaningful and at the same time so much more bearable during those difficult days. They make life beautiful.

During the seasons of Advent and Christmas may we all experience that special joy – the joy of the Holy Spirit.  As a wonderful Catholic Sister taught me in elementary school, and I haven’t forgotten it yet. She called it her “Secret Formula”:

Jesus first

Others second

You last

A blessed Advent and Christmas!

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