St. Francis of Assisi believed purity of heart and a healthy prayer life were keys to maintaining happiness.
All of us want to be happy. It is a natural human desire, one that often eludes us. We might feel we do everything the world tells us to do to be happy, but discover that the world’s recipes fail to satisfy our souls.
St. Francis of Assisi has some powerful advice, going so far as to say that sadness belongs to the devil. He relates his thoughts in a series of Conferences that are attributed to him.
It is only the devil and his followers who ought to be sad; we, on the contrary, should always rejoice in the Lord.
He then expands on his thoughts, suggesting two habits that will combat the devil’s sadness.
Always, my beloved Brethren, have a holy joy in God, both interior and exterior. If the servant of God endeavors to have and to keep spiritual joy, which springs from a pure heart, and is acquired by devout prayer, then the devils cannot harm him; they are forced to say: “Since this servant of God rejoices alike in tribulation and prosperity, we cannot find an entrance into his heart, and are unable to injure him.”
St. Francis believed that the devil would do all that he could to prevent us from having a holy joy.
If we want to combat that sadness, we need to focus on prayer and purity of heart.
Therefore, my beloved Brethren, as this holy joy comes from cleanness of heart, and the purity of continual prayer, we must principally endeavor to acquire these two virtues, that thus we may have this joy both exterior and interior, which I desire so greatly, and love so much to see and feel, both for myself and you.
The devil and the world cannot provide this type of happiness. It is a joy that can endure any trial, for it is a joy that is found only in God.