Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Perfect Joy

It's not surprising that the Franciscan Crown rosary is all about joy - specifically, the Seven Joys of Mary (the Servites get the Seven Sorrows). Franciscans are generally a joyful bunch. In fact, you could say we're called to joy.

Joy isn't the same thing as happiness. It's much deeper, and isn't swept by the winds of whether or not our lives are going the way we want them to. Francis defined perfect joy by asking his listeners to use their imaginations. (This won't be exact, but I think I'll hit the gist of it.) Imagine that you're returning from a long trip. You've had to walk the entire way, and you're tired and footsore - and hungry. It's night, and you're trudging through a cold rain with a biting wind. You're chilled to the bone and your wet clothes are plastered against you. But, said Francis, that's not perfect joy. Imagine, he said, that you arrive at the place you call home and find the door locked. You knock but a voice from inside says, "I don't know you! Go away!" You beg for a piece of bread or a cup of soup, but the door stays locked. But, said Francis, that's not perfect joy. Imagine that the people in the house all shout at you, throw stones to drive you away, loose the dogs, and threaten to call the authorities if you don't go away and leave them alone. That, said Francis, is perfect joy.

There's a lot I don't know about Francis, but from what I do know, I don't think he was saying that the worse life is the more joyful you should be. I think he's saying something about perfect joy - that perfect joy comes only from God. If you can be joyful when nothing in your life is inviting you to be joyful, you can know that your joy comes from God. It's perfect joy.

Mary certainly had her sorrows, but she also had joy. The Seven Joys of Mary traditionally used in praying the Franciscan Crown are:

1. The Annunication
2. The Visitation to Elizabeth
3. The Birth of Jesus
4. The Adoration of the Magi
5. The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple
6. The Resurrection of Christ
7. Mary's Assumption into Heaven and her Coronation. 

How about some joyful Franciscan Crown rosaries?

Here's one in the colors of the rainbow (in proper Roy G. Biv order):

One all dressed in white:

And one made out of hearts - that's on sale for $10.00 during July (or until it's sold):

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