Emily Stimpson, from Our Sunday Visitor put that question to Edward Sri, professor at The Augustine Institute and author of “Walking with Mary: A Biblical Journey from Nazareth to the Cross” His answer?
Grow in virtue.
Our Sunday Visitor: How would you define joy?
Edward Sri: According to St. Thomas Aquinas, natural joy is a fruit of love. It’s the emotion experienced either in the presence of one we love or simply in the knowledge that the person is doing well. But spiritual joy is the fruit of the theological virtue of charity, love of God. It’s experienced through our sharing in God’s goodness. Hence, to the extent that we live our lives participating in God’s goodness — in virtue, in imitation of Christ — we experience deep, abiding spiritual joy. No matter what may be happening in our lives, we can still experience spiritual joy through the love of God and living the way God made us to live.
OSV: How is joy related to virtue?
Sri: Virtue is a habitual disposition to do the good. The virtues help me to live my relationships well, including my relationship with God. And that’s when we experience joy, when we love God and live according to his plan.
OSV: Are there any particular virtues that are especially essential if we want to lead joyful lives?
Sri: Well, all the cardinal virtues — prudence, temperance, courage and justice — are important. If I don’t have prudence, I might take on too many projects and jeopardize relationships. If I don’t have temperance, or self-control, I might indulge in lower pleasures at the cost of higher pleasures. I need courage to help me through difficulties. And I need justice to fulfill my responsibilities to God, my family, my community and my Church. But if I had to single out two that are of particular importance in our culture, I would emphasize temperance and courage.