Cardinal Thomas Collins greets an attendee at the annual Cardinal's Dinner in Toronto.


Cardinal Thomas Collins greets an attendee at the annual Cardinal's Dinner in Toronto.

December 1, 2014

Christians must pay attention to the reality of evil but do so with hope-filled joy, Cardinal Thomas Collins told the annual Cardinal's Dinner.

Speaking on Nov. 6 to some 1,600 religious, business and political leaders in Toronto, Collins said it would be naive to ignore the evil that abounds today.

The modern world is not always a "jolly place," he said. But we must respond with an ability to "see all events, no matter how evil, in the hope-filled context of divine providence."

"A grim, fanatical faith is one that accurately sees the evils around us, but lacks trust in the provident hand of God, and is too consumed with a vain concentration on our limited human ability to make good happen," Collins said.

"There is great truth in the words of a holy spiritual director at the seminary where I prepared for the priesthood: 'The faith that is sad, or mad, and not glad, is bad.'"

Collins reminded the audience of St. Thomas More, who was "famous for cracking jokes on his way to the scaffold," and More's friend, Bishop John Fisher, who, "when awakened at 5 a.m. on the morning of his beheading, and told that the king's command would be carried out at 9 a.m., smiled, rolled over and went back to sleep for a couple more hours."

"Such a serene spirit comes from a joyful trust in providence, and ultimately is irresistible," Collins said.

Joy reminds us to be grounded in what is truly real, "since no joy can be found in a world of smoke and mirrors."

The cardinal told the audience that Mother Teresa understood joy. She insisted that her novices retain a joyful spirit, not to foster unwarranted optimism, but because their work in the slums was so difficult that, without a joyful attitude, the young women would be crushed by the burden.

"As true joy gives fruitful energy to the individual, a joyful spirit is also the foundation for advancing the common good," Collins said.

"People of faith who are grimly fierce can be dismissed, but not those who reveal the breadth of their vision and the depth of the foundations of their life through a serene and joyful spirit. Tragedy is pagan; comedy is divine."