Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 31, 2003
Droplets of joy nourish our lives
You reap what you sow, so sow love
By FR. JACQUES JOHNSON
During my college days, I had a bad flu and lingered in bed for a few days until two of three of my friends came to visit me in the infirmary. Friendly talk, joking, teasing, laughing.
By the time they left I felt better, my headache was gone, the fever was down. The next day I was back in class.
A friend is depressed. I go visit her. We talk, joke around, swap stories, pray with her. The next day she calls and says how my visit helped her along and that she's thinking of going back to work.
My mother was in an old folks home and the authorities decided that she was going down and that she needed to be in a nursing home. We had a family reunion. A younger brother and his wife proposed that mom come and live with them and their five children.
Within days, mom who raised 14 children, was again surrounded by lots of young people who teased her, took her out for a visit to Dairy Queen and laughed with her a lot. This input plus the loving care of Jean and Renee, resulted six years later, with mother, now 97 years old, having not a thing wrong with her health.
I mention these incidents because I've been reading a book, La guerison par le plaisir (Healing through Pleasure) published by Novalis, written by Oblate Father Yvon Saint-Arnaud of Ottawa, doctor in psychology and well-known speaker in Eastern Canada and Europe.
Many years ago as a student I asked him to be my spiritual director at College St. Jean in Edmonton where he was teaching. By his advice and the way he worked, taught, lived and related with us, he became my role model. To a large extent I owe my priestly vocation to this good man.
After some 15 years of research in Europe on how sick people get well, Father Yvon became professor at St. Paul University in Ottawa. Drugs and pills may help a lot, but for Father Yvon nothing heals the human person as much as pleasure which includes joy, laughter, love, meaningful human relationship, as well as the simple enjoyment that music and poetry or creative and artistic activities can provide.
These in fact have been scientifically proven to heal ailments such as depression, cancer, asthma and heart diseases.
Father Yvon wrote his 656-page book to demonstrate the surprising scientific discovery that human beings can overcome their physical, mental or emotional discomforts, pains and illnesses by experiencing pleasure and joy.
People are positively affected by human company, friendship, love, fun and laughter. Their moods change and their minds and hearts are uplifted in ways that positively influence the healing and well-being of the body.
Pleasure is defined as an experience of euphoria that is physical, psychological and spiritual at the same time. Pleasure contributes to the quality of our life. The pleasures that bring us the greatest satisfaction are knowledge, love, beauty, creativity, relaxation, personal esteem, interpersonal relationships, freedom, fun and laughter.
There is also clear evidence that negative feelings, disappointments and tragic events in people's lives affect their health adversely. Unhappiness, anger, resentment, severe disappointments, betrayal, being victimized can impact on a person's health in a serious way leaving behind nervous breakdowns, heart diseases, stomach ulcers, cancers, etc.
In the Scriptures, St. Paul invites us to make the right choices as free people that we are: "You were called to liberty, but be careful or this liberty will provide an opening for self-indulgence.
Serve one another in works of love, since the whole of the Law is summarized in a single command: love your neighbour as yourself. If you go snapping at each other and tearing each other to pieces, you better watch out or you will destroy the whole community" - including yourself (Galatians 5:13-15).
St. Paul, guard us against yielding to self-indulgence (the good old me, myself and I) because its result is "fornication, gross indecency and sexual irresponsibility; idolatry and sorcery; feuds and wrangling, jealousy, bad temper and quarrels; disagreement, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies and similar things" (Galatians 5:19-21).
People making these choices call upon themselves all sorts of grief and unhealthy consequences.
St. Paul invites us to health and life by choosing what the Spirit is offering us: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:12). St. Paul suggests that these are ours to be had if we crucify self-indulgent passions and desires.
This reflects a simple law of life: "You reap what you sow!"
Father Yvon St. Arnaud has always been a tireless, dedicated, jovial, life-giving man. He has always modelled for all what he has taught and written about the secrets concerning a long and healthy life.
Today, as a young 85-year-old, Father Yvon continues to teach and write about living life to the full by our unconditional love for all, our contagious joy and laughter, our warm, caring disposition, our happy and generous heart: thus becoming healers and givers of life.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.