Wednesday, May 26th, 2021

Regarding Cheer

Good cheer makes us friends of the angels and saints.—They see all things sub specie æternitatis; and with that perspective, very few things are of great importance. Such as we can, we do well to adopt the same outlook. Because to be angry and lachrymose over what amounts to little is merely proof of how small we can be. It is an erroneous or unbalanced view of what truly matters that makes a man cheerless: for he can neither laugh at petty inconveniences nor gracefully accept his own weakness or those of others without trying to preserve a sense of self-importance. For he has placed himself rather high on the hierarchy of important things.

On the other hand, cheer makes a man great-hearted, because his eyes are looking toward eternity, where the most lasting and true things are. He knows what matters—namely, the things of God—and he makes no pretense of being more than what he is. So he may laugh at his own blunders and at the absurd pomps of the world around him; and this cheer makes him wear the world lightly. That is the foolishness for Christ spoken of by St Paul.[1]

Therefore, and contrary to what we might be inclined to think, cheer and good humor may not be primarily attached to joy. Rather, more fundamentally, humility makes for the cheerful man because, once again, the humble man sees himself for what he is; and so he is adept at evaluating the rest of what goes on around him accordingly. And, as we have already said, much of what does go on around him is comical because of the false pretenses that are usually involved.

This sheds light, too, upon the Beatitude which says the poor in spirt are heirs to the earth. For the proud cannot turn aside from themselves; they have no time to inherit the good things promised to those who are humble enough to receive. So the saints go cheerfully to God, taught by the angels who are consumed with His glory.


[1] Cf 1 Corinthians 4, 10.

{Art Credit: detail, St Philip Neri in Ecstacy, Guido Reni.}

Lightning Meditations