The joy we experience on Earth is called “consolation,” because happiness here is always mixed with pain. We call the Holy Spirit the “Consoler,” because He is the one who gives souls in exile a happiness which can be experienced simultaneously with grief. In fact, it actually supposes it!

When Jesus Christ came into the world and transformed all existence, He did not eliminate pain. We might say actually, that He increased it, He made it more profound and universal. The Christian life does not suppress suffering, because life in Christ implies the purification of our hearts, and the heart is only purified completely in suffering and sacrifice. To live the Christian life fully is to take up the Cross and follow Christ to Calvary, as He Himself taught us.

Instead of suppressing pain, Jesus did something even greater: He wrapped suffering in joy. He structured the human heart so that perfect joy could blossom from depths of the deepest suffering. The joy that encloses grief—the blossoming flower in the midst of our pain—is consolation. But it’s not a joy we can create for ourselves; it’s only poured into our heart by the Holy Spirit, the Consoler.

If we can’t seem to find this joy, if we are not happy, it is because we are not free. We carry chains that we may not even be aware of ourselves. Perhaps we may even love these chains! They are our attachments: the wealth that turns our heart to material things, the pleasures that weaken our will, the pride that takes us from God, our true selves, and others. We think these things will make us happy, but we deceive ourselves. These are the things that impede our true happiness. They make us slaves, and a slave cannot be happy.

If we look carefully, even at human life, we see the only thing that can really console us is love. When our heart is torn to pieces, when great bitterness fills our souls, nothing but love—the deepest of love—can heal our pain. And the only thing that can lead us to overcome our attachments is love. So let us beg the Holy Spirit to pour out this great love in our hearts, so we can find the joy of perfect freedom in Him.

Adapted from The Sanctifier, Luis M. Martinez