St. Basil on Joy and Sorrow in the
The soul which is possessed of the desire
for its Creator and which has grown accustomed to delighting
in His divine presence and beauty will never lose that
ineffable delight in the midst of such carnal desires; on
the contrary, he will find more delight and happiness in
these things which torment others. Thus lived the Apostle;
who, rejoicing in the midst of his infirmities, sickness,
persecutions and calamities, considered poverty to be a
glory (2 Cor 12).
The valiant athlete, once he has stripped
for the fight in the arena of his religion, should suffer
with courage the blows which he will receive from his
enemies, safe in the hope of the glory of his prize. All
who, in the course of the games, have accustomed themselves
to the fatigue of the struggle never lose heart because of
the pain of the blows they receive; on the contrary, the
desire for victory triumphs over their present ills and they
attack their enemy closely. In the same way the just man,
even though he be attacked by some evil, never loses his
joy, because: affliction gives rise to endurance and
endurance gives proof of our faith, and a proved faith gives
grounds for hope (Rom 5:4). For the same reason St. Paul
urges us to be patient in time of tribulation and to rejoice
with hope (Rom 12). It is hope then which renders our joy
stable in the hearts of those who are proved in virtue.
The apostle also tells us that we must
weep with them that weep, and again he himself wept for the
enemies of the cross of Christ. Nor is it really necessary
to mention the case of Jeremias . . . Jesus himself wept
over Jerusalem and at the tomb of Lazarus; he also said that
those who mourn are blessed. How can this be reconciled with
the command that we should rejoice always?
We reply by saying that the lamentations
and tears of the saints come from the love of God. They have
their eyes always fixed on the Beloved, finding in Him their
greatest joy; therefore they attend to the affairs of their
brethren, weeping for them when they sin and reproving and
correcting them with their tears. But just as those who
stand on the shore and worry about those who are drowning do
not thereby lose their sense of security, so those who weep
for the sins of their neighbour do not lose their own joy.
Rather this is increased at the thought that their very
tears make them more worthy of the joy of the Lord.
Therefore those who are sad are also happy and those who
mourn are blessed, because they shall receive consolation
and their very sorrow shall be turned into joy.
"O Lord grant that I may rejoice in Thee