JOY – The Secret of Francis of Assisi
Contentment or happiness is a must for inner peace and success. However, according to a 2015 survey, Unhappy India ranks 117th on World Index of 158 countries (Times of India). The bottom line is that there is urgent need to develop a culture of happiness through value education. While happiness can be acquired, the human spirit yearns for the divine gift of joy which only can fulfill our heart. What is special about joy is that people of faith can have glimpses of joy during agonizing suffering of body and mind or similar experiences such as insult, humiliation, false accusation, suspicion, hatred, calumny, etc. This is the miracle wrought by Jesus, the Lord.
Francis of Assisi who invoked divine blessings of peace and joy upon all he encountered has been recognized the world over as an icon of these two heavenly gifts. Just as peace was for Paul a person, so too for Francis, joy was a person whose name is Jesus. In the dramatic divesting himself of the worldly garments of vanity, wealth and power before the Bishop of Assisi, Francis was vested by his Master Jesus with the heavenly garments of love, peace and joy. In attempting to illustrate the true and perfect joy envisioned by the “Seraphic Troubadour of Assisi,” the author highlights the Trinitarian Spirituality of Francis: total surrender to the Father; full conformation to the Son by making his Gospel the form of life; breathing in the power of the Spirit and acting according to His prompting. Francis proved by his life what joy really meant for him: Jesus, first, Others next, Yourself last.
Christianity is a religion built on the joy of the Risen Lord. In our efforts for total liberation from all the negative forces that surround us and for possession of “true and perfect joy,” St. Francis can be our most reliable guide. Joy was the secret of his life and it can very well be of yours too, provided you have his mindset and adopt his methodology. The book can prove to be a powerful source of inspiration and a workbook for making daily plan to live joy and give joy. Joy is our birthright, but it is in giving joy that we receive it.
Aloysius Kattady, a Franciscan of the Third Order Regular, holds a MA degree from the Catholic Univ