Joy to the World

Letter from the District Superior, Rev. Robert Brucciani, December 2023

My Dear Faithful,

The birth of the Christ-child gave joy to the world two thousand years ago, and continues to give joy to the world today, and yet the world does not rejoice. How is this so?

To answer this question, we must understand that there are three types of joy:

• Joy of passion

• Natural joy of the will

• Supernatural joy of the will

Joy of passion

The joy of passion is that bodily feeling arising from the possession of a particular good as apprehended by the sensitive power. It is the happy emotion we have when we possess a good which delights the senses (e.g. chocolate). It is a physical joy born of sensitive love.

Natural joy of the will

The natural joy of the will is altogether superior, being that perfection of being arising from the possession of a good as apprehended by reason. It is a spiritual joy born of natural love. It may be accompanied by a feeling of joy, but not always. When, for example, an athlete wins a gold medal, he will have a spiritual joy of triumph accompanied by feelings of euphoria, but when he was training for the event by running up a muddy hills in the cold, driving rain, the spiritual joy from the exercise of virtue would only be accompanied by feelings of pain.

Supernatural joy of the will

The highest joy is supernatural joy of the will. This is the perfection of being resulting from the possession of the greatest good, which is God by the exercise of the supernatural virtue of charity.

By natural love, a soul will love God as knowable by reason, but when the will acts by supernatural charity, the will loves God with the same act of love with which God loves Himself. We say that the will participates in the divine act of God loving Himself. And, as God is the same as His actions, we can say that, by an act of supernatural charity, a soul participates in the very being of God; the soul possesses God by participation in God. As St. John says:

And we have known, and have believed the charity, which God hath to us. God is charity: and he that abideth in charity, abideth in God, and God in him. (1 Jn 4:16)

This possession of God is in proportion to the intensity of the act of supernatural love, and its fruit is joy: a spiritual joy which St. Paul numbers among the “fruits of the Holy Ghost”, the plenitude of which he himself is unable to describe:

That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him. (1 Cor 2:9)

Like natural joy of the will, supernatural joy may or may not be accompanied by feelings of joy. The physical suffering of the martyrs, for example, caused no feelings of joy, but their total gift of self to God gave them the greatest spiritual joy possible in this life. Only Catholics can fully understand this truth. Only Catholicism can reconcile joy and pain.

Joy to the world, but no joy of the world

When our Saviour was born, the joy of those who believed that He was both God and man was a supernatural joy of the spirit. Beholding the child in His Mother's arms certainly evoked feelings of joy in the hearts of the shepherds and the Magi, but the supernatural joy of participated possession of Supreme Goodness by supernatural charity was for them a premonition of the beatitude.

The world of course knows none of this and, despite all its revelry, it does not rejoice. The world seeks a joy of the passions: pleasure that soon turns to ashes. There are a few, admittedly, who attain to natural joy from the exercise of natural virtue as they contemplate the crib, but these too will be unfulfilled at Christmas, for they are made for supernatural love of the Christ-child, not just human love.

The world will revel and will be disappointed as it counts the cost on Boxing Day, but if we have prepared for Christmas by a mortifying Advent, we will share in the joy of the shepherds, the Magi and the angels, not just for Christmas Day, but for Christmastide, and by God’s grace, for all eternity.

Joy to the faithful of Great Britain & Scandinavia

My dear faithful, as this is the last editorial I will write before I leave for my new post in Switzerland on 1st January, please accept my prayers and wishes that you attain to spiritual joy this Christmas and ever after.

Thank you for your spiritual and temporal generosity over the last eight years (yes, it has gone in a flash!). I have been carried by the prayers of so many, and the generosity the faithful in both life and death have enabled our Society to continue the work of our holy founder and to move closer to the mission of our saintly patron to “Restore all things in Christ.”

Pray for your priests, encourage vocations in your children, love one another. Forgive my trespasses and obey your pastors.

Finally, be good to my successor, Rev. Fr. David Sherry. With your help, he will be the instrument of Providence to bring perfect supernatural joy to every heart.

With my blessing,

In Jesu et Maria,

Father Robert Brucciani

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