Skip to content

Joy-Filled Suffering


By Monsignor Charles M. Mangan
Catholic Online

Today, the Fourth Sunday of Lent, has traditionally been called Laetare ("Rejoice") Sunday because of the strong sentiment of joy found in the Entrance Antiphon of the Mass: "Rejoice, Jerusalem! Be glad for her, you who love her; rejoice with her, you who mourned for her, and you will find contentment at her consoling breasts." (Isaiah 66:10-11)

The Church takes a break from the rigors of Lent and stresses the joyfulness of Jerusalem, the city of the followers of God. Rose vestments may be worn at Mass, symbolizing the contrast with the penitential violet of Lent.

The virtue of joy is not often associated with Lent. Instead, other spiritual qualities come to mind: patience, humility, piety, willingness to suffer, etc.

Yet, the Church today encourages us to reflect on joy, even in the middle of a penitential season. Why? What is the connection, if any, between joy and sacrifice? Are these two realities mutually exclusive?

The witness of the bruised and tortured Christ, the example of the Sorrowful Mother and the other saints, especially the martyrs, answers this final question with a resounding "no." Spiritual writers throughout the centuries have emphasized various ways in which a person might achieve union with God. All seem to agree that authentic joy--described in much spiritual literature as "the possession of some good"--results only when a person has accepted God's will in his life.

Fighting God's designs ensures that joy in a person's life will always be elusive. But embracing the divine plan brings the promise of spiritual happiness.

Often, joy is confused with an outgoing or gregarious attitude. However, joy lives much deeper and is less perceptible than a grin on a person's face. While joy is often expressed outwardly, nevertheless, its primary manifestation is internal.

As Jesus hung upon the Cross, His pain was evident. Bleeding profusely, His exterior demeanor was consonant with one who is in agony.

But, if Christ's "food" was doing His Father's will as He said to His disciples just a short time earlier (see Saint John 4:34), then Jesus must have had some sense of inner joy. His Father's plan was being accomplished! For the Son, that must have resulted in indescribable joy.

Contemporary society should take note: joy can come from suffering. For all of the modern world's attempts to evade pain and anguish, we haven't succeeded in becoming a world of joy. It seems that many try hard to escape from necessary suffering, repelling even beneficial burdens.

Of course, it's OK to avoid some pain. For instance, parents have the right and responsibility to comfort a sick child and to provide the necessary therapy to alleviate the pain. But some suffering must be accepted and borne with a greater good in mind: the glory of God and the salvation of souls, including one's own.

Indeed, Lent is a time of sadness as we look upon the suffering induced by a jealous world. However, we can witness first-hand that pain and agony need not conquer the inner spirit.

Christ has undergone pain and demonstrated its worth. When God allows one of His friends to suffer, He alone knows the value of it and the joy that can result. Conformity to Christ is the reward of those who humbly and joyfully accept His Cross.

(Slightly edited from its original appearance in the "National Catholic Register", March 10, 1991, page 4. Used with permission.)


Mary's Field , VA
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan - Official, 390 66616-1125



Our Lord Jesus Christ; Lent; Laetare Sunday; Suffering

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.