Apostolic Joy

"Joy is apostolic. It is 'a clear indictor of grace.'" - Austen Ivereigh in "First Belong to God: On Retreat with Pope Francis" (book cover pictured next to quote)

A friend of mine recently converted to Catholicism. Like me, she was once a card-carrying Protestant. “What made you convert?” I asked, knowing for me, there were reasons that surprised me.

“I convert because the Catholic Church is apostolic. We can trace Pope Francis all the way to St. Peter and all the Apostles; I want to be a part of that.” She was absolutely beaming when she told me this. As someone who grew up in a church founded in the 1970s, I understood. To be part of something with all that history made me feel connected to the panorama of the Church throughout time.

In the book, First Belong to God, Austen Ivereigh quotes Pope Francis when he writes, “Joy is apostolic. It is ‘a clear indictor of grace.’”

Thinking about how joy connects us to those first Apostles thrills me. It places the Apostles in a new light. Rarely do I think of them as joyful. Serious? Focused? Yes. But why do I not think of them as joyful? Of course, they were!

As St. Paul writes in Galatians 5:22–23, joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit. We will know those who live in the Spirit by the fruit of their lives: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” These men who spent so much time, eating, sleeping, working, and traveling with Jesus would have been joyful.

This is why I want others to come to Christ. I want them to know the joy that comes from knowing him. Our joy as Catholic Christians is evangelistic.

The word joy is often used in surprising places in Scripture, such as:

  • “Your pain will turn into joy.” (John 16:20)
  • “No one will take your joy from you.” (John 16:22)
  • “During a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity.” (2 Corinthians 8:2)
  • “Whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy.” (James 1:2)

Just because the circumstances change, the lens through which we view the circumstances shouldn’t. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Joy is a result of knowing God.

I know when I am close to Jesus, when I have been spending more time with him, inviting him into all the moments of my life, I am more joyful. I am even more joyful to think that this connects me to the Apostles. Jesus said we will know who belongs to him “by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16) The world was not changed by glum, dour followers of Jesus but joyous, loving, gracious men and women connected to his Spirit!

Shemaiah Gonzalez
Shemaiah Gonzalezhttps://www.shemaiahgonzalez.com/
Shemaiah Gonzalez is a freelance writer who holds a B.A. in English Literature and a M.A. in Intercultural Ministry. She thrives on moments where storytelling, art, and faith collide. Published on Busted Halo and America Magazine among others, she is obsessed with being well-rounded as she jumps from Victorian lit to Kendrick Lamar, from the homeless shelter to the cocktail party. A Los Angeles native, she now lives in Seattle with her husband and their two sons.



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