Skip to main content

Magisterial Documents: Gaudete in Domino

Magisterial Documents: Gaudete in Domino

Apostolic Exhortation - on Christian Joy Pope Paul VI
9 May 1975

The full document is available on the internet.

Brief History

1975 was proclaimed by Pope Paul VI as a Holy Year. Gaudete in Domino situates the current concerns and shows the remedy the Holy Spirit will provide. The crisis the document focuses on is the sacrament of reconciliation. In this document the Holy Father only briefly touches the difficulties. Instead, he points out the sources of joy in the Christian life lived according to the Holy Spirit's indwelling. To live in grace is to find joy. The document states:

Unfortunately, in our century which is so threatened by the illusion of false happiness, we do not lack opportunities of noting the psychic inability of man to accept "the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Cor 2:14)

Spiritual discernment is possible only in the Holy Spirit. Mary masters of this discernment. It is she who can sing, "My soul rejoices in God my Savior." (Cf. Lk 1:46-8)

The attainment of such an outlook is not just a matter of psychology. It is also a fruit of the Holy Spirit. This Spirit, who dwells fully in the person of Jesus, made him during his earthy life so alert to the joys of daily life, so tactful and persuasive for putting sinners back on the road to a new youth of heart and mind! It is this same Spirit who animated the Blessed Virgin and each of the saints.

Mary knows the beatitude promised by the outpouring of the Spirit: "With Christ, she sums up in herself all joys; she lives the perfect joy promised to the Church: Mater plena sanctae laetitiae. And it is with good reason that her children on earth, turning to her who is the mother of hope and of grace, invoke her as the cause of their joy: Causa nostrae laetitiae."



The strengthening joy of the Spirit
Our intention: a hymn in praise of joy

I. All Men Feel the Need of Joy

The natural experience of joy
Joy is especially difficult today
The message of joy is needed more than ever
Educating men to experience natural joys
The sadness of non-believers

II. The Anticipations of Christian Joy in the Old Testament

Passover, Psalms, and New Jerusalem

III. Joy According to the New Testament

The human joys of Jesus
The deeper joy of Jesus
Christ's disciples are to share his joy
Christian joy is based on both the death and the resurrection of Jesus
The work of the Spirit in the soul
The law of Christian life and apostolate

IV. The Joy in the Hearts of the Saints

The Blessed Virgin Mary
The martyrs
The message of the spiritual masters
St. Francis of Assisi
St. Therese of Lisieux
Blessed Maximilian Kolbe
Joy is diffusive
Joy turns us to God

V. A Joy for the Whole People?

Those with responsibilities
The need of leadership
Sin the greatest obstacle to joy

VI. A Joy for the Whole People?

The spiritual significance of youth
Reasons for the Church's confidence
Grounds for hoping in today's youth
Exhortation to the young

VII. The Joy of the Holy Year Pilgrim

The renewal desired by the Council
The real goal of our pilgrimage
We want all to share Our joy
Unity a necessity


Our joy is rooted in God
Great importance of the Eucharist

Core Marian Passages:

III. The Blessed Virgin Mary was the first to have received its announcement, from the angel Gabriel, and her Magnificat was already the exultant hymn of all the humble. Whenever we say the rosary, the joyful mysteries thus place us once more before the inexpressible event which is the center and summit of history: the coming on earth of Emmanuel, God with us. John the Baptist, whose mission is to point Him out to the expectation of Israel, had himself leapt for joy, in His presence, in the womb of his mother (Cf. Lk. 1:44). When Jesus begins His ministry, John "rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice" (Jn 3:29).

IV. In the first rank is the Virgin Mary, full of grace, the Mother of the Savior. She, accepting the announcement from on high, the Servant of the Lord, Spouse of the Spirit and Mother of the Eternal Son, manifests her joy before her cousin Elizabeth who celebrates her faith: "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior...henceforth all generations will call me blessed"(Lk 1:46-8). She has grasped, better than all other creatures, that God accomplishes wonderful things: His name is holy, He shows His mercy, He raises up the humble, He is faithful to His promises. Not that the apparent course of her life in any way departs from the ordinary, but she meditates on the least signs of God, pondering them in her heart. Not that she is in any way spared sufferings: she stands, the mother of sorrows, at the foot of the cross, associated in an eminent way with the sacrifice of the innocent Servant. But she is also open in an unlimited degree to the joy of the resurrection; and she is also taken up, body and soul, into the glory of heaven. The first of the redeemed, immaculate from the moment of her conception, the incomparable dwelling-place of the Spirit, the pure abode of the Redeemer of mankind, she is at the same time the beloved Daughter of God and, in Christ, the Mother of all. She is the perfect model of the Church both on earth and in glory. What a marvelous echo the prophetic words about the new Jerusalem find in her wonderful existence as the Virgin of Israel: "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garment of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels" (Is 61:10). With Christ, she sums up in herself all joys; she lives the perfect joy promised to the Church: Mater plena sanctae laetitiae. And it is with good reason that her children on earth, turning to her who is the mother of hope and of grace, invoke her as the cause of their joy: Causa nostrae laetitiae.

After Mary, we find the expression of the purest and most burning joy—where the cross of Jesus is embraced with the most faithful love—among the martyrs, in whom, in the very midst of their torment, the Holy Spirit inspires an impassioned longing for the coming of the Spouse. 

VII. Jesus Himself and Mary His Mother sang on earth as they went up to Jerusalem the canticles of Zion: "perfection of beauty," "joy to the whole world" (Ps. 50:2; 48:3). But henceforth it is from Christ that the Jerusalem above receives its attraction, and it is towards Him that we are making our inner journey.


AAS 67 (May 31, 1975): 289-322
St Paul Editions, 1975

© This material has been compiled by M. Jean Frisk and Danielle M. Peters, S.T.D.
Copyright is reserved for The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute.
Most recently updated in 2018.

All About Mary includes a variety of content, much of which reflects the expertise, interpretations and opinions of the individual authors and not necessarily of the Marian Library or the University of Dayton. Please share feedback or suggestions with


Marian Library

Roesch Library
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 1390

Study Mary

Study the theology and history of Mary at the University of Dayton.

Learn More

Keyword Search

Would you like to begin a new keyword search?

Get Started