The Meaning Of Perfect Joy


“In The Little Flowers of St. Francis a delightful story is told about how Francis taught Brother Leo the meaning of perfect joy. As the two walked together in the rain and bitter cold, Francis reminded Leo of all the things that the world—including the religious world—believed would bring joy, adding each time ‘Perfect joy is not in that.’ Finally, in exasperation Brother Leo asked, ‘I beg you in God’s name to tell me where perfect joy is,’ whereupon Francis began enumerating the most humiliating, self-abasing things he could imagine, adding each time ‘Oh, Brother Leo, write that perfect joy is there.’ To explain and conclude the matter he told Brother Leo, ‘Above all the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ gives to His friends is that of conquering oneself and willingly enduring sufferings, insults, humiliations, and hardships for the love of Christ’” (Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, 3rd ed. [New York, HarperCollins, 2003], 132, Kindle).