Thursday, July 6, 2017


To start, let’s acknowledge that some people have Maria Goretti lives.  Forces over which they have no control but which have considerable control over them make life miserable.  Additionally, a person may have a Maria Goretti aspect to their lives.  That is, there is a part of their life that is challenging, over which there is little or no control.  So if you are in a Turkish prison and experiencing daily beatings, there is not much you can do to improve your lot before lunch.

But outside of those types of situations, most people (way including myself) know what they can do to make room in their lives for more joy.  It could be spiritual, like going to confession.  It could be physical like getting some exercise, seeing your doctor, or finishing a long put off and complicated chore.  It might be mental, like changing your attitude or getting away from a negative influence.

It’s nice to go for the quick fix.  But quick fixes rarely have any lasting power and most of them involve escapism.  And while you are on vacation from your problem, it often just grows worse (or at least appears worse.)  A computer game, a smoke, the fifth time through a TV rerun, the  whole bag of Valuetime Cheese Curls (may they rest in peace) simply give the temporary appearance of the disappearance of the problem.  Like Anbosol on a toothache: It may take the pain away, but the tooth continues to decay and when the medication wears off, watch out.

Why put off being happier until tomorrow?  Fix something today.  You’ll be happier tomorrow.  Maybe the victory and the (hopefully) positive feeling will give you the power to fix one more thing.  Set little achievable goals.  Give yourself a victory pat on the back.  If talking on the whole mountain immobilizes you because it seems impossible, then attack it one stone at a time, one day at a time.  After a month, you’ll be surprised at the pile of rocks that have been removed and how much better you feel at the exercise.

When I was a kid my mother wanted a rock garden around the front tree.  There was a huge pile of discarded rocks up the street in a field.  She didn’t drive and I was little and she was not very strong.  So one day we each picked up two rocks.  We brought them to the yard and placed them at the base of the tree.  It looked pathetic and felt like painting a house with a piece of dental floss.  But every day we would go for a walk.  At the end of two weeks things started to look promising.  Half way through the summer there was a promising wall.  By August, we were sitting on the low wall drinking lemonade. 

There is a Chinese (I believe) proverb that asks the question, “When is the best time to plant a tree?”  The answer is, “Yesterday.”  So get started.

And as for the Maria Goretti aspects: The necessary as opposed to the necessary suffering in your life?  This is where sainthood comes in.  You can choose to wallow in misery, or you can use it.  It doesn’t make it better, but it makes it useful.  You can suffer.  Or you can suffer and have some good come from it.  Offer up your forbearance in pain as penance, or for reparation for someone else or our nation or for vocation.  Give God your tears to rain on the graves of faithfully departed to quicken their journey to heaven.  In other words, give this unwelcome visitor purpose.  Use it.  Don’t merely be used by it.

And for those who cannot muster any of this:  KNOW that I prayed for you today.


Anonymous said...

I have a little sign by my desk at home that says 'Be the reason someone smiles today.' Helping someone else is the fastest way to put myself in a good mood!

Anonymous said...

Hubs and I are facing health challenges. This was a good reminder to "offer it up".