What can we do so that we will experience the joy of the Lord's Resurrection? Of course, this joy is a gift of grace from God and not a manufactured emotional state, but there are several activities we can undertake to dispose ourselves to receive this joy.
1. Freedom from distraction - Everyone's mind nowadays is weighed down with the double weight of fear and desire. Fear comes from the bad news blared at us every day in the media. Desire is manufactured by advertising and the entire propaganda of consumerism. We have to unplug ourselves from this manufactured mental world and apply our minds to what is real -
to real work, real prayer, and real learning.
2. Giving thanks - Daily, hourly, we have to force ourselves to thank God for all that He is, all that He has done for us, and all that He has allowed for our salvation, whether pleasant or unpleasant. The constant effort to give thanks and to be cheerful, especially amid difficulties,
will invite the grace-given joy of the Holy Spirit.
3. Cleansing of the conscience - A conscience burdened by unconfessed and unrepented-of sins darkens the mind and creates sadness in the heart. St. Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain rightly calls a clean conscience "the joy of joys" and an unclean conscience "the sorrow of sorrows." We should not walk but run to confess our sins, receive forgiveness, and prepare to receive the Gift of Gifts, Our Lord's Precious Body and Blood in Holy Communion. On a daily basis, we should practice the examination of the conscience before we go to sleep at night, in order to preserve the conscience pure before the Lord.
4. Quietness of life - Besides turning off the outward sources of distraction - TV, Internet, etc. - we need to turn off our own noisemaking machine, our tongue. Let us think of a few cheerful, helpful things we can talk to relatives and friends about,
and avoid gossip about the lives of others.
5. Compassion for those who suffer - Here I do not mean faraway people you see on the news who are being bombed and so forth, but someone you know, someone near to you who is suffering in some way. Think more about him than yourself, pray for him, do what you can for him. It is remarkable how happy we can be when we forget
about our own problems in order to serve Christ in our neighbor.
6. Remember that life is short, death is certain, and our real life is after this life - We are burdened and have no joy because we demand happiness from this life and act as if this life were all that there is. If we were completely focused on preparing for God's judgment, the successes and failures of earthly life would not trap us in the cycle
of passionate hopes and crushing disappointments.
7. Prayer and Church Services - The demons and fallen nature try to convince us that prayer and worship are a burden and not a gift, but, of course, it is the opposite. The time during which we stand before God in prayer is the time in which we are most free. This is the joy of life after death even before death!
May each of us receive this joy!
If you want to hear of a fourth, I will mention almsgiving, whose power is great and far-reaching.
Christ is Risen!
In His Will is Our Peace!
O Lord, grant unto me that with Thy peace I may greet all that this day is to bring. Grant unto me grace to surrender myself completely to Thy holy will. In every hour of this day instruct and guide me in all things. Whatever tidings I may receive during this day, do Thou teach me to accept tranquilly in the firm belief that Thy holy will governs all. Govern Thou my thoughts and feelings in all I do and say. When unforeseen things occur, let me not forget that all is sent by Thee. Teach me to behave sincerely and reasonably toward everyone, that I may bring confusion and sorrow to no one. Bestow on me, O Lord, strength to endure the fatigue of the day and to bear my part in its events. Guide Thou my will and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to suffer, to forgive, and to love.
- Prayer of the Optina Elders
There is a spiritual law of ups and downs of our moods. When despondency strikes, do not give yourself over to it too much. Remind yourself that after sorrow gladness will come. And when happy, do not get too carried away, for sorrows must surely come again. Just like overcast skies and rain follow sunshine, so is our spiritual balance, and a balanced man begins to see God's Providence in everything.
- Archbishop Averky of Syracuse and Holy Trinity (+1976)
Good cheer is a Christian duty. A Christian should never be discouraged, should never doubt the outcome of good from all that seems evil. A wailing, complaining, fearing Christian is failing his Lord. In countless ways does the word of Christ in the heart reveal itself in life. It blesses houses; it enriches and beautifies lives.
- New Martyr Tsaritsa Alexandra (+1918)