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Only the Holy Spirit gives true joy

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on the Holy Spirit
General Audience, Wednesday 19 June 1991 - in Italian & Spanish  

"1. We have already heard many times from St. Paul that "joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit" (Gal 5:22), as are love and peace, which we have discussed in earlier catecheses. It is clear that the Apostle is speaking of the true joy which fills the human heart, and certainly not of a superficial, transitory joy, which worldly joy frequently is.

It is not difficult for an observer who operates solely on the level of psychology and experience to discover that degradation in the area of pleasure and love is in proportion to the void left in man from the false and deceptive joys sought in those things which St. Paul called the "works of the flesh": "immorality, impurity, licentiousness...drinking bouts, orgies and the like" (Gal 5:19, 21). One can add to these false joys—and there are many connected with them—those sought in the possession and immoderate use of wealth, in luxury, in ambition for power, in short, in that passion for an almost frantic search for earthly goods which can easily produce a darkened mind, as St. Paul mentions (cf. Eph 4:18-19), and Jesus laments (cf. Mk 4:19).

2. Paul refers to the pagan world to exhort his converts to guard against wickedness: "That is not how you learned Christ, assuming that you have heard of him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus, that you should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God's way in righteousness and holiness of truth" (Eph 4:20-24). It is the "new creation" (cf. 2 Cor 5:17), which is the work of the Holy Spirit, present in the soul and in the Church. Therefore, the Apostle concludes his exhortation to good behavior and peace in this way: "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption" (Eph 4:30).

If a Christian "grieves" the Holy Spirit who lives in his soul, he certainly cannot hope to possess the true joy which comes from him: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace..." (Gal 5:22). Only the Holy Spirit gives a profound, full and lasting joy, which every human heart desires. The human person is being made for joy, not for sadness. Paul VI reminded Christians and all our contemporaries of this in the Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete in Domino. True joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

3. In the Letter to the Galatians Paul has told us that joy is connected with love (cf. Gal 5:22). Therefore, it cannot be an egotistical experience, the result of a disordered love. True joy includes justice in the kingdom of God, which St. Paul says "is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom 14:17).

It is a matter of Gospel justice, which consists in conformity to the will of God, obedience to his laws and personal friendship with him. Apart from this friendship there is no true joy. Rather, as St. Thomas explains: "Sadness, as an evil or vice, is caused by a disordered love for oneself, the general root of all vices" [1] . Sin is particularly a source of sadness, because it is a deviation or almost a distortion of the soul away from the just order of God, which gives consistency to one's life. The Holy Spirit, who accomplishes in man the new righteousness in love, removes sadness and gives joy, the joy which we see blossoming in the Gospel.

4. The Gospel is an invitation to joy and an experience of true and profound joy. At the annunciation, Mary was invited: "Rejoice, full of grace" (Lk 1:28). This is the summation of a whole series of invitations formulated by the prophets of the Old Testament (cf. Zech 9:9; Zep 3:14-17, Joel 2:21-27, Is 54:1). Mary's joy is realized with the coming of the Holy Spirit, who was announced to Mary as the reason for rejoicing.

At the visitation, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and with joy, participating naturally and supernaturally in the rejoicing of her son who was still in her womb: "The infant in my womb leaped for joy" (Lk 1:44). Elizabeth perceived her son's joy and showed it, but according to the evangelist, it is the Holy Spirit who filled both of them with this joy. Mary, in turn, exactly at that moment felt rising in her heart that song of rejoicing which expresses the humble, clear and profound joy which filled her, almost as a realization of the angel's "rejoice": "My spirit rejoices in God my savior" (Lk 1:47). In these words, too, Mary echoed the prophets' sound of joy, such as in the Book of Habakkuk: "Yet will I rejoice in the Lord and exult in my saving God" (Hab 3:18).

A continuation of this rejoicing took place during the presentation of the infant Jesus in the Temple, when Simeon met him and rejoiced under the impulse of the Holy Spirit, who had made him desire to see the Messiah and compelled him to go to the Temple (cf. Lk 2:26-32). Then, the prophetess Anna, as she was called by the evangelist, who therefore presents her as a woman consecrated to God and an interpreter of his thoughts and commands according to the tradition of Israel (cf. Ex 15:20; Jgs 4:9; 2 Kgs 22:14), by praising God expresses the interior joy which in her, too, takes it origin from the Holy Spirit (cf. Lk 2:36-38).

5. In the Gospel pages which concern the public life of Jesus, we read that at a certain moment he himself "rejoiced in the Holy Spirit" (Lk 10:21). Jesus expressed joy and gratitude in a prayer which celebrates the Father's loving kindness: "I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will" (Lk 10:21). In Jesus, joy assumes all its force in enthusiasm for the Father. The same is true for the joys inspired and sustained by the Holy Spirit in human life. Their hidden, vital energy directs individuals toward a love which is full of gratitude to the Father. Every true joy has the Father as its final goal.

Jesus invited his disciples to rejoice, to overcome the temptation to sadness at the Master's departure, because this departure was the condition planned by God for the coming of the Holy Spirit: "It is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you" (Jn 16:7). It will be the Spirit's gift to provide the disciples with a great joy, even the fullness of joy, according to Jesus' intention. The Savior, after inviting the disciples to remain in his love, said: "I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete" (Jn 15:11; cf. 17:13). It is the task of the Holy Spirit to put into the disciples' hearts the same joy that Jesus had, the joy of faithfulness to the love which comes from the Father.

St. Luke attests that the disciples, who had received the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit at the time of the ascension, "returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the Temple praising God" (Lk 24:52-53). In the Acts of the Apostles, it turns out that after Pentecost a climate of profound joy came to pass in the apostles. This was shared with the community in the form of exultation and enthusiasm in embracing the faith, in receiving Baptism and in community life, as can be seen in the passage: "They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people" (Acts 2:46-47). The Acts notes: "The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit" (Acts 13:52).

6. The sufferings and persecutions which Jesus predicted in announcing the coming of the Paraclete-Consoler (cf. Jn 16:1 ff.) would come soon enough. But according to Acts, joy lasts even during trials. One reads that the apostles, brought before the Sanhedrin, were flogged, warned and sent home. They returned "rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Messiah, Jesus" (Acts 5:41-42).

Moreover, this is the condition and the lot of Christians, as St. Paul reminds the Thessalonians: "And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, receiving the word in great affliction, with joy from the Holy Spirit" (1 Thess 1:6). According to Paul, Christians reproduce in themselves the paschal mystery of Christ, whose foundation is the cross. But its crowning glory is "joy in the Holy Spirit" for those who persevere in the time of trial. It is the joy of the beatitudes, particularly the beatitude of the mourning and the persecuted (cf. Mt 5:4, 10-12). Did not Paul the Apostle say: "I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake..." (Col 1:24)? And Peter, in his turn, urged: "But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly" (1 Pet 4:13).

Let us pray to the Holy Spirit that he may always enkindle in us a desire for the good things of heaven and enable us one day to enjoy their fullness: "Grant us virtue and its reward, grant us a holy death, give us eternal joy." Amen.

[1]   Summa Theol., II-II, q. 28, a. 4, ad 1; cf. I-II, q. 72, a. 4

After the Catechesis, Papa Giovanni Paolo II greeted the pilgrims in various languages

Ai pellegrini di lingua francese

Chers Frères et Sœurs,

Je salue cordialement les pèlerins de langue française présents à cette audience. Je leur souhaite de faire un bon séjour dans la Ville éternelle et d’être affermis dans leur foi par la visite des hauts-lieux de l’Église primitive.

A chacun d’entre vous, mes chers amis, j’accorde de grand cœur ma Bénédiction Apostolique.

Ai pellegrini di lingua inglese

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On all the English-speaking visitors present at this audience I invoke the Holy Spirit’s gifts of spiritual peace and joy. I thank you all for your prayers for my apostolic ministry.

Ai numerosi fedeli di lingua castigliana

Amadísimos hermanos y hermanas,

Presento ahora mi más cordial saludo de bienvenida a esta audiencia a todos los peregrinos y visitantes procedentes de los diversos Países de América Latina y de España.

En particular, a los jóvenes aquí presentes, y les animo a hacer de las vacaciones de verano que ahora comienzan un tiempo de crecimiento en su vida cristiana y en sus conocimientos y madurez humana.

A todos imparto con afecto la Bendición Apostólica.

A través del canal de televisión “Telemundo” deseo enviar también mi cordial saludo a los telespectadores de las Américas, cercanos ya a la conmemoración del V Centenario de la Evangelización del Nuevo Mundo.

Ai fedeli di lingua portoghese

Amadíssimos irmãos e irmãs,

A todos os peregrinos de língua portuguesa, especialmente os brasileiros provindos de Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador e São Paulo, concedo minha Bênção Apostólica para que o Senhor lhes dê “Virtude na vida, amparo na morte, no céu a alegria”.

Ai pellegrini di lingua tedesca

Liebe Brüder und Schwestern!

Mit dieser kurzen Betrachtung grüße ich alle deutschsprachigen Pilger und Besucher sehr herzlich, Mein besonderer Gruß gilt den Mitgliedern des Berg- und Hüttenvereins St. Barbara aus Schwalbach, die Ihr aus Anlaß des 125-jährigen Vereinsjubiläums nach Rom gekommen seid, sowie die Senioren der Deutschen Bundespost aus Augsburg.

Bitten wir den Heiligen Geist, daß er in uns immer mehr die Sehnsucht nach den himmlischen Gütern entfache und wir uns eines Tages ihrer in Fülle erfreuen können. Hierfür erteile ich Euch allen, Euren lieben Angehörigen in der Heimat sowie den mit uns über Rundfunk und Fernsehen verbundenen Gläubigen von Herzen meinen Apostolischen Segen.

Ai fedeli polacchi

“Bogu dziękujcie . . . Ducha nie gaście”.

Nawiązując do tego hasła, myśli przewodniej mojej ostatniej pielgrzymki do Ojczyzny. W tym okresie, który tutaj wypełniony był katechezą na temat Ducha Świętego, myśmy prowadzili nasz “cykl jasnogórski”, żeby się przygotować do tei pielgrzymki. Jednakże spotykamy się z katechezą o Duchu Świętym w dniu, w którym tematem jest radość, radość płynąca z Ducha Świętego, radość, która jest darem Ducha Świętego, owocem Jego działania w naszej duszy. Podobnie jak pokój, radość jest również owocem Ducha Świętego w nas. I dlatego tak bardzo aktualne jest to wezwanie Episkopatu, przewidziane jako myśl przewodnia pielgrzymki: “Ducha nie gaście”.

Jeżeli gasimy ducha, gaśnie w nas radość. Jeżeli natomiast nie zasmucamy Ducha Świętego, jeżeli żyjemy w Duchu Świętym, czyli w duchu dziesięciu przykazań, a nade wszystko w duchu przykazania miłości, radość w nas odżywa, radość prawdziwa, głęboka, trwała, zadatek radości wiecznej. Nie tylko ta przelotna, powierzchowna radość, która nie jest godna tej nazwy, bo szybko przemija i pozostawia po sobie gorycz, a czasem rozpacz. Więc “Ducha nie gaście”.

Życzę wam, drodzy rodacy, wam tu obecnym i wszystkim w Ojczyźnie i na świecie, tej radości, która jest darem Ducha Świętego. Życzę wam też dlatego, ażebyście nie zasmucali Ducha Świętego, natomiast żyli z Niego, żyli wedle Bożych przykazań, wedle przykazania miłości, żyli darami Ducha Świętego, otwierali wasze serca i wasze postępowanie na Jego działanie. W ten sposób dołączamy po zakończeniu “cyklu jasnogórskiego” nasze krótkie słowo na audiencji środowej do cyklu tych audiencji, które byłly przez caly ten czas poświęcone tajemnicy Ducha Świętego.

Witam pielgrzymów z Polski, w szczególności nauczycieli z Kęt; młodzież z parafii Przemienienia Pańskiego z Ropczyc; z parafii św Anny z Tucznej w diecezji siedleckiej; nauczycieli i uczniów I Liceum im. Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej w Sopocie; z parafii św. Hieronima z Bytomia Odrzańskiego; z parafii św. Bonifacego z Wrocławia; z parafii Świętego Krzyża z Jeleniej Góry; z parafii Świętych Cyryla i Metodego z Bolesławca; z parafii św. Stanisława ze Świdnicy Śląskiej; współpracowników mysyjnych ksęży pallotynów z całej Polski; grupę sióstr zmartwychwstanek odbywających odnowę w Duchu Świętym; uczniów Technikum Rolniczego z Bojanowa-Goliny Wielkiej; prócz tego kolejarzy z Kostrzyna n. Odrą; uczniów ze Szkoły Sportu w Poznaniu; kolejarzy z Bielska Białej. Grupy turystyczne: “Kresy-Travel” z Zamościa; “Pol-Mar” z Gdańska; PTTK z Ustronia; “Kortina” z Warszawy; “Bramar” z Kłodzka; “Grand-Tour” z łodzi; “Pielgrzym” ze Słupska; PTTK z Krakowa; kolejarze z Biłgoraja i Gniewczyny k. Przeworska; wreszcie inni pielgrzymi z kraju i emigracji nie objęci tymi grupami.

Ai gruppi di lingua italiana

Saluto i vari gruppi di lingua italiana che prendono parte a questa Udienza.

Rivolgo un pensiero particolare ai Sacerdoti provenienti dal Vicariato Foraneo di Conselice, in diocesi di Imola, e a quelli di varie diocesi d’Abruzzo, i quali celebrano il 30° anniversario della loro Ordinazione Sacerdotale; sono accompagnati da Monsignor Cleto Bellucci, Arcivescovo di Fermo, già loro antico Rettore nel Seminario Regionale di Chieti.

Carissimi Fratelli nel Sacerdozio, vi esprimo i miei rallegramenti per questa festa anniversaria e per i traguardi pastorali da voi conseguiti. Possa questo incontro essere per voi di incoraggiamento e di stimolo, come per me è di conforto l’accogliervi in questo appuntamento e sapervi bene impegnati in una vita di apostolato in mezzo alle vostre Comunità cristiane. Continuate ad essere pastori zelanti e animatori generosi, e insieme sappiate vivere la vostra consacrazione, imperniata sui consigli evangelici, per testimoniare agli uomini della nostra società l’assoluto primato di Dio e i grandi ideali delle Beatitudini evangeliche.

Siate sempre uniti ai vostri Vescovi e condividete anche le sollecitudini della Chiesa Universale per la salvezza del mondo. Il Signore Gesù, sommo ed eterno Sacerdote, vi assista e vi conforti sempre.

Ai giovani, ai malati e agli sposi novelli

Saluto ora i giovani, gli ammalati e gli sposi novelli.

Formulo a voi, studenti, cordiali auguri perché la conclusione di un periodo di scuola sia coronata da successo; auspico che anche la vacanza sia un tempo di crescita, occasione per nuove conoscenze, che arricchiscano la formazione della vostra personalità e vi preparino alle vostre future responsabilità.

A voi, ammalati, sia di conforto l’amore del Cuore di Cristo. Egli ha portato su di sé tutti i nostri dolori e nella croce ci ha redenti.

Sappiate voi, sposi novelli, programmare la vostra vita familiare alla luce del Vangelo, che è parola di Dio, la quale vi illumina e guida verso i valori superiori della fede e dell’armonia interiore ed esteriore.

A tutti la mia Benedizione Apostolica.

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