Whenever I go to a home improvement store I like to spend a little time in the paint department. Because I am an English major I like the descriptive words they use to describe paint colors.
You will notice that, according to color experts like Sherwin-Williams, the vestment I will have on this weekend is not "pink sea shell" or "little piggy" or "powder-puff" or "creamy peach" or "flamingo's dream" or even "tickled pink." The color with which I will be adorned this day can most accurately be described as "Imperial Rose." That suits me better, don't you think?
Gaudete Sunday is important because it helps to drive out the inner-Eeyore in each one of us. Eeyore is that old grey stuffed donkey from the Winnie the Pooh series who is pessimistic, cynical, and almost seems to enjoy being gloomy. It might alarm us, if there were some way to chart the movements of our spirit, to recognize how often we are like that.
How often, throughout our day, could we be described as being brooding, peevish, defeatist, easily irritated by unimportant things, or otherwise behave in a way that betrays a belief that evil and hardships outweigh the good?
For my Advent spiritual reading I have been making my way through a book called Despondency: The Spiritual Teaching of Evagrius Ponticus on Acedia by Gabriel Bunge. Evagrius of Pontus was a fourth-century monk who warned of the dangers of despondency and acedia (sloth or listlessness) and taught how it can be overcome.
Essentially, Evagrius defined despondency as hating everything that is available to us and disordinately desiring what we don't have. How often does that describe our fallen spirits!
From this despondent discontent develops despair and giving-up and then an inner "slackness." Evagrius says, "Just as a sick person can carry no burden" so too will the despondent person never undertake with care the good work of God. Instead the person will distract himself or merely try to entertain himself – “but the evil is not remedied by this, only postponed... and despondency returns and requires yet stronger doses."
Gaudete Sunday says, "Look alive Eeyores! Despair not. Don’t let your spirit fall into that stagnant slumber. Keep praying. It does bear fruit. Be people of hope. Rouse yourself from your slackness and distractions. See the glory. Know the joy. Set your spirit right. The Rose is blooming. Christ comes and your redemption is at hand!"
Lively hope and blessed Gaudete Sunday to you all.