“Nature warns us by a clear sign that our destination is attained. That sign is joy. I mean joy, not pleasure. Pleasure is only a contrivance devised by nature to obtain for the creature the preservation of its life; it odes not indicate the direction in which life is thrusting. But joy always announces that life has succeeded, gained ground, conquered. All great joy has a triumphant note. Now, if we take this indication into account and follow this new line of facts, we find that wherever there is joy, there is creation; the richer the creation, the deeper the joy.” (Henri Bergson) Joy is perfectly compatible with moral excellence; it is a sign of this excellence and contributes to its perfection. The fount of joy lies in the inner depths of our being, at the roots of our freedom, when this freedom is open to the outpourings of goodness and love.

Yet, in order for the waters of this fount to pour forth within us, we have to make a personal choice of great price: When we receive the call to a greater good, a good that will reveal to us the true joy at the core of our lives, will we know how to break free from the charms of pleasure through a liberating renunciation? The discovery of joy beyond our trials is a decisive step on the way to moral maturity. One even comes to perceive, upon fulfilling its requirements, that joy does not destroy, but rather refines and rightly orders, pleasure.

Father Servais Pinckaers, O.P.