Being joy-challenged is not just the province of Jesuit priests and brothers (most of whom are cheerful sorts). Joylessness is nondenominational and interfaith. “My minister is such a grump!” a Lutheran friend told me a few months ago, explaining what led her to search for another church. Last year I gave a talk to a large group of Catholics. After the talk someone said approvingly, “You know, I actually saw our bishop laugh during your talk. I’ve never seen that before.” She had been working with the bishop for five years.

A certain element of such joylessness is probably related to personality types; some of us are naturally more cheerful, optimistic, and upbeat. But after encountering the same brand of dejection over and over for twenty years in a wide variety of settings, I’ve reached the unscientific (but I think accurate) conclusion that underlying this gloom is a lack of belief in this essential truth: faith leads to joy.

Between Heaven and MirthAdapted from BETWEEN HEAVEN AND MIRTH by James Martin, S.J. Copyright © 2011 by James Martin, S.J.  Used with permission of HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers.