According to Aquinas, Joy is born of Love.  That is why joy is an anchor when struggle, strife and suffering swirl all around us.

Mother and child, in a moment of love and joy. Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Aquinas teaches that “love is the cause of joy,” because “everyone takes joy in their beloved,” and “love and joy constitute the basis of all attraction—love is the origin and joy is the end result.”

Love and joy go together, so both love and joy constitute our “noblest acts.”  Indeed, “the only person who truly has joy is one who lives in love.”

The consciousness of God is about love and joy, and the same is true of human consciousness. A call to love is a call to joy. And a call to joy is a call to love and sharing that love.

Joy is deeper than sorrow and requires attention before, during and after the Dark Night of the Soul and the Dark Night of Society and the Dark Night of Democracy and the Dark Night of our Species and the Dark Night of Mother Earth overtakes us.

The Dark Night is not to be trivialized or denied.  It is something as real as a broken heart or a broken promise.  It can happen on a personal or interpersonal or community or societal or an eco level.  

Dark night of the soul. Photo by Carmen Nissan on Flickr.

The teaching from the mystics is to be with the dark and learn what it has to teach us and to respond from that place.

And also to stay in touch with Joy even if it is a silent touch or distant memory or future hope.  To look for Joy even in the midst of darkness. 

Terry Tempest Williams teaches this story: 

Once upon a time, when women were birds, there was the simple understanding that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy.  The birds still remember what we have forgotten, that the world is meant to be celebrated.*


*Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, pp. 118, 433, 116. 

And Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom For Hard Times, pp. 36-38.

Also see Fox, In the Beginning There Was Joy: A Cosmic Celebration for Kids of All Ages

Banner Image: European Robin singing in an English wood. Photo by Tom Bradley on Unsplash


Queries for Contemplation

Do you agree with Aquinas that love is the cause of joy?  And with Williams that that birds—if not always humans–help us to remember that the world is meant to be celebrated?


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4 thoughts on “Where Does Joy Come From? ”

  1. Avatar

    Thank you Matthew for today’s profound Meditation on the deep spiritual interrelationship of Divine Love~Compassion~Wisdom~Joy…
    For inspiration I would like to quote my favorite passage from your Meditation:

    “The consciousness of God is about Love and Joy, and the same is true of human consciousness. A call to Love is a call to Joy. And a call to Joy is a call to Love, and a call to sharing that Love.
    Joy and Love are deeper than sorrow and requires attention before, during, and after the Dark Night of the Soul and the Dark Night of Society and the Dark Night of Democracy and the Dark Night of Our Species and the Dark Night of Mother Earth overtakes us… “ God bless Us All….

  2. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Singin’…
    Joy to the world
    All the boys and girls now
    Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
    Joy to you and me!
    Written by Hoyt Axton and performed by Three Dog Night

  3. Avatar

    God’s Love is both the source and a creative, healing-energy flowing from the joyously (rapturous) soul-leap into Mystical Awareness.
    When the Mystical Message was hidden/erased from Western religions, they lost a crucial spiritual Wisdom-transmission that had been included (boldly, conspicuously pointed to) in their sacred scriptures.
    One of its lessons was that God-Spirit’s Love is subversively inclusive, flowing through whomever it will, regardless of whether that person:
    –fits within the “official designated “one-True” religion/denomination; ”
    –belongs to the “correct (male) gender,” or
    –follows the “necessary saintly purifications that make them worthy and deserving.”
    This was also the beautiful message Jesus shared about God’s Love: God doesn’t “obey” man’s rules for who should be “eligible for God’s Spirit” and who “deserves” either Love or Mystical Union. God’s Spirit goes where God wills, and lovingly helps whoever is open to God/Spirit.
    Totally radical, this Mystical, Biblical God is.

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