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Be Joyous Even in These Difficult Times

Meditation Written by
Fr. Francis Geremia, C.S.

This is the title of the message of 18 October ’75 and which Don Stefano also put as the title of the year 1975. In her Messages Our Lady uses the word joy 407 times. The Bible talks about it 826 times and the Gospel, the « Good news », is the handbook of joy for all Christians.

 “Be serene; be joyful! This is not the end of my Church; what is in preparation is the beginning of its total and marvellous renewal. The Vicar of my Son, in virtue of a gift I grant to him, is already able to foresee this, and through living in the present moment of sadness, he invites you to be joyous.

Be joyous? You ask me, all surprised.

Yes, my sons, in the joy of my Immaculate Heart where I enfold you all. My motherly Heart will be for you the place of your peace, while outside the most violent storm is raging.”


This message will be of consolation for those who will return to the Lord after the enlightenment and the great disasters of these times.


In the same message Our Lady continues: « Even if you have been wounded, even if you have fallen many times, even if you have doubted, even if at certain times you have betrayed your calling, do not become discouraged, because I love you!

The more my Adversary will have sought to rage about you, the greater will be my love for you. I am the Mother, and I love you all the more, my sons, for your having been snatched away from me.

And my joy is to make each one of you, beloved priests of my Immaculate Heart, sons so purified and strengthened that from now on no one will ever again succeed in snatching you from the love of my Son Jesus. I will make of you living copies of my Son Jesus.

And so be content, be confident and be totally abandoned to me. Remain always in prayer with me. »


Every time God reveals himself to his prophets and his people, it brings overflowing joy to man. Psalm 104 says: «For Yahweh gives me joy » (v. 34). In Psalm 95 this joy becomes effusive: « Come, let us cry out with joy to Yahweh…the rock of our salvation (v.1). In 96: « Let the heaven rejoice and earth be glad!... at Yahweh’s approach, for he is coming » (11)

In the Old Testament, through the Sacred authors, God describes the numerous joys of human life, which the Lord includes in his promises.

Then God offers greater joys to his people, the ones they will find in their faithfulness to the Covenant. We cannot dwell on this subject: it is enough to say that in the Old Testament we find many descriptions of the joy of the people who together worshipped God on special occasions. A very beautiful example is Kind David’s joy, which was expressed by his dancing before the Ark of the Lord.


Before going ahead with the meditation, we will do what we used to do at the school of philosophy and theology. That is, the thesis was announced and then the terms were defined.

The thesis is the title of the Meditation. Our Lady tells us: « Be joyous ».


Jesus is the cause of our joy. Saint Paul says: “With joy we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light. He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his Beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (1,3).

Our Lady herself tells us what joy she is talking about: 2/2/97: “And so today, as I carry Him in my arms to the Temple of his glory, I gaze into his eyes, from which there appears the light of an immense beatitude. This is He, your one and only beatitude. This is He who points out to you the way of the beatitudes, along which everyone must travel in order to attain salvation and peace.

This is the Eternal Word of the Father, under the appearance of this little Child, who traces out for you the way of truth and of life. This is the only-begotten Son in whom the Father, from all eternity, is well pleased.”


Pope Francis often urges us to live as redeemed persons. He said:

“The Risen Jesus gives us the joy of being Christians, the joy to follow Him closely, the joy to go to our brethren, the joy to be like Him.”


We would like to dwell especially on the joy of the Gospel.


From Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium: “1.1. The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.

3. I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day.” (1, 1-3)

We can now go over at least a few of the more important passages.


At the Annunciation, the Angel Gabriel invites Our Lady with the greeting: “Hail” (Lk 1:28).

Even before Jesus’ birth, John the Baptist leaps for joy in his mother’s womb (Lk 1:41-44) and Our Lady exclaims: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour” (Lk 1:46-47).

From these two verses we already know what joy Sacred Scripture speaks about.

Elisabeth’s joy “expresses the rejoicing before the Lord who redeems us and frees us.” (Serra). Because Jesus is the Emmanuel, God with us. Elisabeth’s cry of joy reminds us of King David. In the book of Chronicles we read: “As David and all the Israelites were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts of joy and to the sound of the horn..” (2Sam 6:15). Thurian writes: “Thus Elizabeth, struck by Mary’s salutation, feels the babe leap within her, filled with the Holy Spirit as she finds herself at once in the presence of God Himself; she gives vent to a cry before Mary who bears the Son of God, a joyous acclaim which was the fruit of grace and praise to God alone. She has seen Mary the one who bears the Holy Presence, and she cannot withhold the great cry of ecstasy which characterized the appearance of the Ark as the place of the Lord’s Presence. In other words, the sacred uproar in which the people broke out before the Ark is now the cry of jubilation of Elizabeth, who, illumined by the Spirit, knows she is before the new Ark, that is, Mary, who bears in her womb the incarnate presence of God.”


This is where we must learn from Our Lady, through the Holy Spirit, to feel the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist with joy. So our Liturgies should not be sad and without the joy that gave Saint Elizabeth her great enthusiasm. It is the same joy as Zechariah’s in his Canticle.

The joy of God who became man is a joy aimed at every human being with respect for his dignity as well. A writer says, it is the awareness “that God is with me, in an intimate and profound relationship: we are aware that the coming of Jesus in the world is the beginning, for those who accept it, in feeling themselves loved by Jesus, in joyfully loving his presence and in the same way the presence of our Most Holy Mother. Saint Elizabeth, the Old Simeon and the prophetess Anna were happy and full of joy because they had met God himself who was saving us from our sins and therefore that God loves us and from now on will always be near. Their cry is the cry of the chosen people from Abraham to John the Baptist.”


The Beatitudes are the Psalm of the new gladness which Jesus has brought and experienced Himself. They are an invitation to understand that joy exists wherever it doesn’t exist in itself: it is a gift of God.


(From Gaudete et exsultate): “What must one do to be a good Christian?”, the answer is clear. We have to do, each in our own way, what Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount. [66] In the Beatitudes, we find a portrait of the Master, which we are called to reflect in our daily lives.” (63).

So it is wrong to go about sowing only fear: this is not following Jesus.

Joy doesn’t consist in suffering but in God’s consolation. Meekness is not a loss, but the joy that conquers hearts for the Lord. The longing for justice and Holiness will be joyously satisfied by God. Whoever has a clean and pure spirit rejoices at knowing God. Those who work for Peace rejoice that they resemble God as his children.


In other words, the Beatitudes are good tidings for a joyful commitment.


Recently, the experience of Cardinal Van Thuan, described by the author of his biography, must make us reflect: “He often said that, being frightened and discouraged, he used to meditate on the disciples’ question to Jesus’, during the storm: “Master don’t you care that we’re going to die?” Then the Cardinal, with his usual kindness and smile, continued with this unique story which I believe is the interpretation of his figure and his spirituality, which also sheds light on the last moments of his life. He explained that one night, he heard a voice say to him: "Why do you trouble yourself in this way? You must distinguish between God and God's works. Everything you have accomplished and that you wish to continue doing – pastoral visits, the formation of seminarians, lay people, missions – are works of God but they are not God. If God wants you to abandon these works by placing them in his hands, do it immediately and have faith in him. God will do it infinitely better than you; he will entrust his works to others, more able than you. You chose God alone, not his works!, And so, during the terrible tribulation of his imprisonment, which lasted 13 years, which had deprived him of everything, the divine grace of Christian hope came to him; God had manifested himself to him as “Everything” and this was sufficient for him. And he confided to me that this was the inspiration that saved him. And during Holy Week we all lived through this year, during the lockdown, the reference to the Cardinal made me realize that for me and for Bishops and for all priests, putting God first was absolutely necessary and had to be sufficient for us. Through the Cardinal I believe that God has asked me to choose Him and this trait has been the common thread of the experience of the Cardinal’s life until his presence in the Vatican and later his death.”


This experience is so important for those who are put in prison today and killed because of their faith in Jesus and who face so many dangers in order to celebrate and receive the Eucharist.


13/9/84: In Cenacle with Me, I encourage you to continue along the difficult road of your times, in order to respond with joy and immense hope to the gift of your vocation.

1/1/83: I am the daybreak which precedes the Sun; I am the dawn which begins the new day. I am the Mother of Holy Joy. Live in the joy of knowing you are loved by God, who is a Father to you, you who are carried by the Spirit as children and sustained by Jesus as his little brothers.

4/7/86: …telling you of all the joy experienced, during these days, by the Immaculate Heart of your very sorrowful Heavenly Mother.”


Mary is the cause of our joy. In the Salve Regina we call her “Our life, sweetness and hope”. Don Dolindo calls her “Cause of our joy”. In the Opening Prayer of the Mass dedicated to the Virgin Mary Cause of our joy, we say: “Lord our God, you were pleased to bring joy to the world through the Incarnation of your Son, grant that we who honour his Mother, the cause of our joy, may always walk in the way of your commandments, with our hearts set on true and lasting joy.” This prayer is in accordance with Jesus’ discourse after the Last Supper. It is sufficient to quote these verses: “Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” (Jn 15:9-11).

15/8/96: “Thus you too, with your soul and heart, are living in Paradise where I dwell, even if with your bodies you are still dwelling on this earth. In this way you too share in my maternal glory. And thus, you too unite yourselves in my work of intercession and reparation, and prepare, in prayer, in silence and in suffering, for the awaited moment – so hoped for – of the triumph of my Immaculate Heart in the greatest and most glorious triumph of my Son Jesus.”


Our Lady knew the destiny of her Son as a suffering Saviour, but she teaches those who are always in sadness that the souls who belong to the Lord always have joy in their hearts. Certainly we are living through many catastrophes in the world and in the Church. But we must find our peace in the Heart of Jesus and our refuge in the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady. Let us often repeat every day: “Immaculate Heart of Mary, I seek refuge in You.”


Don Bosco asked this one question to a French lawyer who was famous for his brilliant battles fought in parliament against the secularists: “This religion that you defend so well, do you also practise it?”

At times, with the excuse of defending the doctrine of the Church, we risk doing it without conveying the peace that must always exist in the Gospel message of Jesus and Our Lady. Certainly we must also unmask the work of the Antichrists and the Antichrist, just as the world Director of the MMP did so masterfully in this year’s letter.

About seven years ago, when my meditation was named after the hymn: “Andrò a vederla un dì”, a priest accused me of “irenicism”, that is, of being too optimistic and not insisting on the crisis in the Church today, because I talked too much about the joy of looking to Heaven. In reality, Our Lady urges us to be joyous in many of her messages we have already quoted, and especially in the one of 15 August, feast of her Assumption into Heaven.


15/8/94: All the heavenly spirits leap for joy as they celebrate with hymns of exultation and prostrate themselves in an act of profound veneration for her who has been constituted their Queen…the bands of saints experience an increase in blessedness…

But above all it gives great joy to you, my dearly beloved children, who are living through the last times of the purification and the great tribulation…

Today is the feast of joy.

The angels and saints in heaven rejoice.

All the souls who are being cleansed in purgatory rejoice.

The Church on earth which looks on me as a sign of consolation and sure hope rejoices.

My poor, sinful, sick, wounded, wandering and despairing children rejoice..

Today is the feast of your joy.”


We cannot have this joy only on 15 August. In the Salve Regina we surely say: “In this valley of tears”, but we also invoke her as: “Mother of mercy, our life, sweetness and hope”.


The birth of Jesus was a great joy the Angels announced to the people He loves. Later on, Jesus said to the Jews: “Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.” (Jn 8:56).

Even the Baptist, who was so strict in his preaching, said concerning Jesus: “The best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made complete.” (Jn 3:29).

Jesus teaches what the Apostles must rejoice about: not the miracles they accomplish: “But rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” (Lk 10:20). He teaches that He is the Treasure for whom everything is sacrificed with joy (Mt 13:44).

In the three parables about mercy, Jesus concludes: “I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who have no need of repentance.” (Lk 15:7.10). In the parable about talents, he said to the good and faithful servant: “share your master’s joy.”


The joy of the Holy Spirit is the fruit of Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection.

“He rejoiced because the Father is revealed to the childlike through Him. After the Last Supper he said that he gives his life for his friends in order to give them the joy of which his love is the source (Jn 15:9-15). Earlier he had said that by way of the Cross He was going to the Father and for this reason the disciples would rejoice if they truly loved him (Jn 14:28). Now they are in sadness, but their sadness will change into joy. Through the Holy Spirit their joy will be perfect and no one will be able to take it away from them (Jn 14 ff). Indeed, those who believe in Him “share his joy completely” (Jn 17:13).


Let us meditate on and assimilate Jesus’ words in these times in which we and the Church are so persecuted!!

Only after Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven will the Apostles have a great joy.

From the Acts of the Apostles: “Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the Temple and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God…” (Acts 2:46).

When Deacon Philip preached and healed the sick in Samaria, “there was great joy in that city” (Acts 8:8). In Acts we often also find that Baptism fills the faithful with a joy that comes from the Holy Spirit.


Joy in suffering and trials


Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, their joy will be steadfast: in fact, they are happy to be judged worthy of suffering for the sake of the Saviour of whom they are witnesses.

At this point I would like to quote directly from the Biblical Dictionary: “St. Paul says that joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22) and is a characteristic feature of the Kingdom of God (Rm 14:17). We’re not talking about the passing enthusiasm that the Word of God creates and tribulation destroys, but the spiritual joy of the faithful, who in tribulation are an example, who with their joyous generosity are at present, and on the day of the Lord will be, the joy of their apostles (1Thess 2:19)…). He asks himself: how can we give thanks to the Father for being transferred into the kingdom of his beloved Son without being joy? (Col 1:11).

Saint Peter tells us that in order to be joyous…., the disciple of Christ must rejoice to the extent in which he takes part in his sufferings (1Pt 4:17). In the letter to the Hebrews we are told that the disciple joyfully accepts to be stripped of his possessions (Heb 10:34), considering it all joy when he encounters various trials (Jm 1:2).

St. Paul relishes this joy of the Cross when he says: as sorrowful, God’s ministers always rejoice (2Cor 6:10). The Apostle is overflowing with joy because of his affliction (7:4). With total disinterest he rejoices so long as Christ is announced (Phil 1:17) and finds his joy in suffering for his faithful and for the Church (Col 1:24). He even invites the Philippians to share the joy he would have in shedding his own blood as a supreme witness of faith (Phil 2:17).


The first conclusion, in this most difficult times for us, for the Church and for the world, is Jesus’ when he says: “You will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labour, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you” (Jn 16:20-22). We too, as priests, must spread these words of Jesus especially in these difficult times. In many messages, Our Lady insists on telling us that Jesus will come right when no one expects it. Let us listen to her with trust and joy.


23 March 1974

I give you the joy of the Cross.

“Let yourself be led by me at every moment, my son, and you will find peace… even in sorrow, even in abandonment, even in contradictions, even when you seem to feel that you are powerless to do good…

You will know joy even in sorrow; moreover, you will offer for my joy each of your sufferings, even the smallest.  And I will accept it as a gift which the little child makes to its Mother, and I will change it immediately into joy for you. However, the joy that I give you is deep; it is not superficial; it is peaceful; it never brings agitation.  It is for you, my son, the joy of the cross.

The joy of remaining always in my Sorrowful Heart to experience all its indescribable motherly sadness. I want to bring all the priests of my Movement to this joy.  They must know how I completely change and transform their existence, taking literally the gift which they made to me by their consecration.

II will lead them, these little children of mine, very far in love, in suffering, in the joy of the cross!

Those moments are approaching when I will be able to act, for the salvation of the world, through the sufferings of my priest-sons… From them I want trust, prayer, simplicity, silence.”


(28/8/94) “Be vigilant sentinels in the hour of the greatest triumph of Satan and of all the evil spirits.  Humanity is in their possession.  The world is set in the hands of the Evil One.

And so souls have become slaves to sin and are bearing the burden of separation from God, the only source of your happiness.  Thus despair is spreading; violence and hatred are reigning supreme in the relationships between individuals and countries; and you are becoming more and more crushed in the bloody winepress of revolutions and wars, of dissensions and fratricidal struggles.

You have come to the culmination of the tribulation, and you are living the years of the great chastisement, which, in many ways, has already been announced to you…

By means of you, the light of goodness and love, of brotherhood and peace, of trust and joy will be able to return upon the world.”

Our Lady thus assures Don Stefano before one of his numerous trips:

(17/9/95): “Even farther in time, because your mission is to unite, in my Immaculate Heart, the hours of suffering to those of joy; the hours of the great tribulation to those of the new heavens and the new earth; the painful hours of the trial to those of my Motherly triumph.”


We have the witness of many Saints and Martyrs who rejoiced because they were able to take part in the sufferings of Christ. Just think about the perfect joy Saint Francis had.

Only the Holy Spirit can satisfy the hunger for earthly joys, in order to increase the hunger for heavenly things. The events in today’s world force us to seek the only joy that is left for us: to have God and Our Mother with us.

An author writes: “Just as the hungry are delighted when they can satisfy their hunger with bread, so souls, who live under the influence of the gift of Fortitude, are delighted when they can satisfy their hunger for Holiness. They are delighted when they can immerse themselves in God’s will, the only food that can satisfy them, they are delighted when they can quench their thirst for sacrifice, sacrificing themselves for God and for souls, they are delighted when they can satisfy their hunger for God, by receiving him in the Eucharist, or plunging into Him in the intimacy of prayer. It is a pure joy because it isn’t sought after, because it is the fruit of the fulfilment of one’s duty; it is the joy of the soul that gravitates towards its centre, God, and feels he has to give himself more and more to Him, to belong totally to him. But in order to enjoy this joy, we must be determined not to want to look for and allow other joys. Saint Theresa of Avila said: “What a most happy life do souls lead who, despising their own satisfaction, think only about pleasing the Lord.” (Divine intimacy #303-2)

“The reason why we do not savour this joy is because we don’t hunger for justice enough: next to this holy hunger we still nurture the avidity of the century – hunger for the things and joys of this world – which reduce the strength of the former and deviate our steps in search of human satisfactions. But what can human beings give us? They will never be sufficient to satisfy our hunger and they will always leave us unsatisfied. Therefore, let us ask the Holy Spirit to quench our hunger for earthly things and increase our hunger for holiness.”

Therefore, we desire to take part in eternal joy, where the wedding feast of the Lamb is celebrated; those who will take part in it will give glory to God in joy (Rev 19 :7…). It will be the manifestation of perfect joy which is now the heritage that belongs to God’s children (1Jn 1:2).


Louis De Blois invoked the Lord with this prayer: « God, ocean of sacred love and sweetness, come and give Yourself to my soul.  Grant that I may continually long for You with my whole heart, and absolute desire and burning love, and that I may live in You.  O my true supreme joy, may I prefer You to all creatures, and for Your sake, renounce all transitory pleasures! O Lord, nourish this starving beggar with the influx of Your divinity, and delight me with the desired presence of Your grace…O loving Redeemer, make me burn with love for You, making no account of myself, and finding my delight in You alone… My soul calls You, and seeks You with indescribable love, O delight of loving embraces… Come into my soul, O sovereign sweetness, and let me taste Your sweetness, and delight and rest in You alone…Oh, give Yourself to me, unite me closely to You, and inebriate me with the wine of Your love! »

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