Word Magazine October 1963 Page 7
(The following meditation was given by Rev. Fr. Theodore E. Ziton, Pastor of St. George (Eastern) Orthodox Church of Wichita, Kansas as the Radio speaker on Vicksburg’s WQBC’s Morning Devotions during the week of May 13th thru May 17th, 1963, from 9:15 to 9:30 AM. As a member of the Warren County Ministerial Association he is provided the opportunity to go on the air three weeks of the year on this public service media.)
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
The meditation for today is. Christian Joy:
Two monks during the reign of Henry VIII, were threatened by the Lord Mayor that they would be tied in a sack and thrown into the river. “My Lord Mayor,” said one of the monks, “we are going to the kingdom of heaven, and whether we go by land or water is of very little consequence to us.”
Although salvation is a serious thing, yet the saints were joyful, cheerful and even humorous. They were men, women, and children who smiled their way into heaven. It was not a foolish sense of humor which they had, rather it was that spiritual joy of which Our Blessed Lord spoke: “Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven.” The world has a false concept of Christianity, thinking it is something gloomy, but every saint knew that a weeping willow produces no fruit.
The saints even in their penances and austerities were not ill-humored or pessimistic, but light-hearted and optimistic. Saint Andrew cheerfully saluted the cross to which he was about to be nailed; Saint Stephen welcomed the showers of stones as thirsty flowers welcome the drops of dew. The wrinkles and furrows on the faces of all the saints were the results of smiles and not of frowns.
A joyous disposition is essential for every Christian. One cannot be a true Christian and at the same time a pessimist. Knowing the things that he knows, and believing what he believes, he should enter the battle of life with a song in his heart and a smile on his lips. Joy is a God-given birthright to him. Holy Scripture is packed with exhortations to “Be glad in the Lord and rejoice.” How can a person claim to serve the God of love and joy, and yet look as if vinegar and not blood were in his veins?
The saints of God laughed when the proper occasion arose; perhaps, that is one of the reasons why many of them lived to a ripe old age. If people only knew the medicinal power of laughter, good cheer, and of the constant expression of joy and gladness, half the physicians would be out of work today. Laughter is like an air cushion that eases us over the jolts on life’s highway. It clears away the cobwebs from the brain, disposes of the fangs of worry, takes the mind off the grind of things, removes friction, and helps to make life worth living. Laughter brightens the eye, makes ruddy the countenance, brings elasticity to the step, and makes the blood circulate more freely. There is no medicine which can compete with laughter.
The religion of our Blessed Lord is full of hope, sunshine, optimism and cheerfulness. It is joyous and glad and beautiful. There is no Christianity in the ugly, the discordant, the sad. Christ illustrated His beautiful doctrines with the “lilies of the field,” the “birds of the air,” the hills, the valleys, the trees, the mountains and the brooks. All things beautiful, which give joy to the heart, were in His teachings.
Forty-eight to eighteen. That isn’t a football score. It represents the fact that we have to use forty-eight muscles all over our face in a scowl or frown, only eighteen in a smile. God evidently intended that we smile more than frown. At least, he made smiling a lot easier.
Meet the world with a smile. You owe this to God, to your fellow-men and to yourself. If you go about with a face like an east wind, you will be sprinkling rain where sunshine is needed. Let your smile be a real one, not artificial. An artificial smile is the saddest sight on earth—it is not a smile at all, it is just a permanent wave on the face.
Throughout life you will receive many knocks and jolts, but remember, for every bad there could be a worse, and if you break your leg, arm or ribs, raise your heart to God and thank Him that it is not your neck: and if you break your neck, then let the undertaker do the smiling for you.
Life is a theme which God gives us at birth to be developed by us. Some make a tragedy of it, others a comedy: some an insignificant romance: others, perhaps, an intricate novel. But it is God’s holy Will that we make our life a joyful hymn.
One is almost startled at the spirit of joy and real gaiety which appears throughout the entire Scriptures. Nowhere does God advocate gloom or melancholy. He blessed joy, but never sadness. Although Our Blessed Lord bore the sorrows of the world, yet He “rejoiced in spirit,” and told His followers that they should be partakers of His joy. Before He left this world, in His last discourse, He told us: “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be yours and your joy may be filled.”
One of the best known and loved parts of the Bible is the fourteenth chapter of St. John’s Gospel. The sick love it, for there is music in it which lessens pain and suffering. The dying love it, for it opens the windows of heaven, and gives them glimpses of the blessed life of those who have gone to be at home in their Heavenly Father’s mansion. In this chapter, the friends of Christ are in great sorrow which seems inconsolable, because their Divine Master is about to leave them. Yet, the Master’s first words to them are, “Let not your hearts be troubled.”