My dear young people, do not give way to fretful brooding and moroseness if you have to endure sorrow. You ought to be happy and cheerful in the Lord, keeping yourselves free from sin. You have often been told that sin is the greatest misfortune in the world, and that this should be the only thing to make us sad. Be cheerful then; this is the lesson I wish to inculcate, the lesson which I have drawn from this day's Gospel.
Ecclesiasticus wishes us always to chase sadness from our heart. St. Anthony, the abbot, used to tell his disciples that the strongest arm to conquer the enemy was cheerfulness of mind and heart which has God always before our eyes. With this light of God's presence, the shadows of sorrow, of trouble and misfortune disappear. St. Francis of Sales, whom they call the sensible and rational saint, tells us that, after sin, there is nothing does more harm to the soul than melancholy, and that we ought to banish it with all our might. St. Philip Neri wanted young people especially to be happy. Young people can always be happy because their bodies are sprightly and full of life, while old people are frequently sad from care and many other reasons. Young people should be encouraged to love life in all its activity and enjoyment, and it is sad indeed to see them morose or overwhelmed with care.
St. Aloysius Gonzaga and St. Stanislaus Kostka were happy, but at the same time greatly mortified; they were never melancholy or morose, they did not avoid the company of their companions; on the contrary, their manner made all about them feel a holy joy; their companions did not avoid them, they were favorites. The saints all were happy and contented, they were unhappy only when they saw sin. When they thought that they could not prevent the loss of so many souls to God, they lamented and wept. I wish you to reflect well on this day's lesson: never be sullen and disagreeable in company, as there is no reason for it, unless you are of a whimsical mind; correct it as soon as possible. A youth who is good and pious, but holds himself apart, and likes to pray and read pious books out of the proper time, does wrong; he may go to the sacraments, but the joyous laugh of youth is no longer heard, the light foot and the agile form is gone; he likes to walk with old men and become as slow as they. All this is not as it ought to be. Young people ought to be happy among themselves, for if the young see one who is pious and at the same time morose, they think moroseness a necessary consequence of piety, and they hate piety and goodness. My good young people, always show yourselves happy and you will do good. The young man who has true piety is always cheerful and happy, and never seems to have the blues; he does what is right.
There is no doubt that a pious life naturally leads to cheerfulness, and this latter attracts the careless; nothing looks so dark and severe as a holy life "Serve the Lord in joy." Then may discontent, unhappiness, and sorrow be lodged in the hearts of the wicked as a punishment for their sins, and may happiness be in the hearts of the good.
The disciples were silent at the announcement made by Our Lord. He said to them,
"None asks Me, 'Whither goest Thou?' "
We, my dear children, know where Our Lord has gone. He has gone to heaven. But we should ask ourselves, "Are we following the divine Redeemer in that way which leads to paradise?" Tell me, do all young people walk in the path that leads there? My heart grows sad when I think that so many do not follow in the footsteps of Our Lord, but from earliest childhood fall into ways that will surely lead them to hell. The prayers and advice of their parents avail nothing: they are obstinate and go on in their sins. Better than any advice is good example. Let the light of your good works so shine among your companions that they may see it and follow it; pray to Mary that your example may be effective in leading others to God.
Then Our Lord told His disciples that it was expedient He should go, and that unless He went, the Paraclete would not come to them. What great love Our Lord had for His Church and for His disciples! For when the Spirit shall come. "He will convince the world of sin, and of justice, and of judgment." St. Thomas says he will convince the world of sin, which they must avoid, of justice which they must adopt, of judgment which they must fear continually. Understand, my dear young people, that the only evil which you ought to avoid is sin: understand that you must embrace justice, for it is the scrupulous observance of the law of God. You must fear the judgment of God, and not the decisions of men: you ought, therefore, keep in mind that dreadful day when you and all the world will have to appear before God's throne, there to receive the sentence of approval or condemnation from the mouth of God Himself. On that day you will have to appear before the whole world and make a public confession; there will be no support from friends, parents, or relations; we will have no advocate.
Our Lord tells His disciples that He has still many things to tell them, but that they are not now in a condition to understand them, until the Spirit of truth shall come to enlighten them. My dear young people, what light would the Lord infuse into our minds, what inspirations into our hearts, if we were only in a state to receive them and make use of them. Why live so distracted, with your heart so attached to the things of this world, your mind and thoughts so continually on the pleasures of the world that you neglect the performance of your duties? Why do you chase away the salutary thoughts of eternity, avoiding them as if they were something sad which disturbs you? By such carelessness we
render ourselves very unworthy of heavenly favors. Stop it now, once for all, and place no obstacle to the blessings and graces with which Jesus wishes to favor us. By a really fervent life, merit that God may notice you at all times, and give you new graces, and that the Holy Ghost will illumine more and more your mind and heart.
We can learn from the life of St. Catherine of Genoa to correspond to the grace of Our Lord. From her very youth she was always ready to obey the inspirations of God. When she was young, it is true, she sometimes became cold in the service of Our Lord, but no sooner did she hear the voice of conscience stirred in her by God than she turned to her calling and labored more faithfully. She used to say, "Lord, no more world, no more sins." She had many visions of Our Lord, who came to her instructing and consoling her according to the needs of her soul. Once He appeared to her, inviting her to make with Him a fast of forty days, not touching a thing all that time beside the heavenly bread which
she received every day in holy communion. She obeyed with joy, but became so sick that it was thought she was dying. The Blessed Sacrament was carried to her room, and on the third day she was perfectly cured. She had not given much time to study in her youth, but by the help of God she wrote books which, at the present day, astonish the learned and those skilled in spirituality. In short, she corresponded perfectly to the will of God, and thus became a saint.
Source: Sermons for Children's Masses, Imprimatur 1900