In the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, the Fourth Week is all about Resurrection, and the grace of that Week is to “feel glad and rejoice intensely because Jesus rises in exultation and in great power and glory.” We want to experience joy because we are full of Jesus’ joy – we are participants in the joy of Jesus. Ignatius suggests, “strive to feel joy and happiness at the great joy and happiness of Christ our Lord.”
Despite the short shrift sometimes given to the Fourth Week, it is imperative that we experience the joy of the Resurrection. Why? Joseph Tetlow says this:
In his humanness, Jesus triumphed over death. He had embraced everything human without ever acting unfaithful to his Father, to Himself, or to his friends. He had lived his life in uprightness and in joy. Now He is confirmed eternally in His own joy – to be with the children of humankind….
This is the Jesus Christ who lives now. If you do not come to know Him both full of joy and exuberantly sharing his happiness, then you will not really know Him at all. You have asked in past days [referring to prayer in the Second and Third Weeks of the Exercises] to know Jesus and to love Him and to follow where he goes. It is into fullness of life and complete human joy that he goes! If you do not follow him into his joy, you will ultimately find it hard to believe that you are following him at all.”
As Tetlow’s comments suggest, we cannot be the Resurrection people we are meant to be in the world if we do not internalize that joy. We can’t give what we don’t have.
The joy of the Resurrection is not a bells and whistles frolicy brand of joy. Having been with Jesus at Calvary, we don’t leave the cross and tomb behind; the risen Jesus carries his physical wombs on his body. Resurrection is happiness in the midst of the empty tomb, in the midst of grief, loneliness, and the sense that things are not the way we want them to be or think they are supposed to be.
So, as St. Ignatius does, I encourage you to spend time praying with the Gospel accounts of the post-Resurrection appearances of Christ to his friends. See what it is God wants to reveal to you in doing so.
Note that this is a the twenty-third in a series of posts in celebration of the Ignatian Year, which began on May 20 of this year.