"REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS"
Rejoice in the Lord always! (Philippians 4:4) The Apostle Paul says. Many people doubt that this is possible, but it is.
Fr. Narciso Irala, S.J., in his book Achieving Peace of Heart, offers a series of practical counsels on how not to let our experience of sorrow and sad feelings get the better of us.
Live in the Present: The Present is a fount of joy. There are delights which crave to be yours. They are external creation (esthetic pleasure) and moral beauty. So give them entrance by attending to the present. You should not think about the sorry past which has already slipped from your hands. Leave it to the mercy of God. And think not on the agony of an uncertain future. Leave this to His Providence. The present is a pleasant path which runs between two chasms, the past and the future. Whoever by sadness or scruple falls into the past, or slips by worry into the future, ceases advancing towards his happiness.
Live a conscious life. “Age quod agis” (“Do what you’re doing”). If you work on a conscious level, fear, worry and sadness will find no place to torment you. Thus will you lessen and even suppress the influence of a sad and uncontrolled subconscious. “We stand in need of happy people,” writes Marden, “who look away from the sinful, bitter and perverse world and turn towards God’s world to admire its beauty and perfection.”
Practice voluntary concentration on other matters. These concentrations may be indifferent in relation to those which the unconscious tries to impose on you. If sadness or worry is besieging you, concentrate on some study or occupation that pleases you. Even better, concentrate on something directly opposed. For instance, against fear or disturbance concentrate on living images of peace, control and energy. In this war you must take the offensive in order to rout the enemy even from his lair in the unconscious. Cultivate the habit of joy. Your mental makeup is a labyrinthine wood. Your thoughts and acts are men who are tracing a path through it. When one has passed, the easier it is for the next. So then, if you would win the heights of joy, you must send joyful thoughts through to open up the trail. Repeat them and reinforce them with acts of satisfaction and optimism until you have enlarged the trail and made it firm through habit. Then almost without noticing it, you will find you are always happy.
Practice will-acts. Will the contrary feeling: that is, be animated, tranquil, kind, happy.
Use suggestion. Think with feeling about images of peace, control and joy. Repeat to yourself: “Everything I do can be a step taken nearer to God,” “Every day I am increasing in sanctifying grace,” “Every day I am happier”.
Moderate your desires and aspirations. Keep them within reasonable limits. Seek not for body or soul or anything else a greater security, health or prosperity than God wishes it to have in this world. Thus scruples or worry will lessen or disappear.
Overcome negative and depressive feelings. Do this by introducing other feelings which are positive, sublime and ennobling, such as love of an ideal, of God, of souls, or Heaven. Overcome petty, low, and disordered self-love with true love of yourself and your spiritual and eternal good. Before this sublime reality all fears, sadness and phobias fall to earth.
Happiness in this life is not divorced from sacrifice. Our satisfaction increases in the measure that we make those who surround us happy, that we seek the greater glory of God, and in proportion to what we sacrifice to this end.
(Rev. Narciso Irala, S.J.: Achieving Peace of Heart, post-Vatican II revised edition, translation by Lewis Delmage, S.J., Roman Catholic Books, pp. 227-229)