Gaudete: the art of rejoicing

Gaudete Sunday, with its rose vestments, musical instruments, and general air of rejoicing, marks a further stage on our pilgrimage to Christmas, but have you ever stopped to think what ‘rejoicing’ actually means? Is there an art of rejoicing that we have to learn or can we simply laugh a great laugh and be joyful in His presence? A bit of both perhaps.

I have been pondering that lyrical first reading from Isaiah 61. It is often used at monastic Clothings because of the reference to the ‘garments of salvation’. When I was clothed, my father sent me a small card on which he had inscribed not ‘he has clothed me in the garments of salvation’ but ‘he has wrapped me in the cloak of integrity’. To anyone who did not know him, my father’s choice might have seemed puzzling. Why prefer the cloak of integrity to the garments of salvation? I think it has to do with the obligation that integrity lays upon us and the freedom and joy that fidelity to vocation confer. We cannot stretch the metaphor too far, but the garments of salvation are a sign of gladness of heart, a gift from the Lord, but to be wrapped in integrity is to assume a duty, that of being prophets in our own generation. Integrity is never very comfortable and will always lead to difficult and demanding situations. It is no accident that St John the Baptist was a man of the utmost integrity. He was also one of the most joyful. May he teach us not only how to be people of integrity but also the art of rejoicing.

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6 thoughts on “Gaudete: the art of rejoicing”

  1. Amen. We need priests of integrity. Without them, the people are like sheep who are led astray. The Shepherds need to be faithful to Him whom they serve. God bless you Fr Z, for your voice to the Church.

  2. Those are challenging words your father chose for you – integrity is indeed rarely comfortable. In fact I’ve often found it hideously difficult. All that getting up and falling down again! But both can be joyful. By the way, this is why I so much prefer the word “joy” to “happy”. There’s something about joy which soars and can encompass other emotions as well.

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