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Evansville, Indiana
December 4, 1987     The Message
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December 4, 1987

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Faith Today Supplmnent, The Message, Catholic Diocese of Evansville, December 4, 1987 1 Faith Todav A t to Co0x  pL by ]l NATIONAL CATHOUC NEWS SERVICE 13t2  Ave. N.W, Woshlngton, D.C. 20005, 1 vth gont os.stonce from 1 The C@thohc Churx2h IC--00I EXTENSION so,.w 35 Eost Wao I)., Chicogo, Illincs 60601 All contents copyrightt987 by NC News Semite, ,t2l II III Living life to the hilt By Father Herbert Weber NC News Service I n the musical play "Bar- num" there are two songs that suggest a philosophy of life for P.T. Barnum and his wife Chairy. For.him it is "The Colors of My Life." For her the song is "Black and White." His song speaks of a style of living that is vivacious and willing to take certain risks. While not suggesting that every follower of Christ should have the show business drive of this legen- dary circus founder, Barnum's song about colors may be an apt description of a true Christian life view. Many, however, still think that faith-filled people must be black and white, or drab and gray. As Christmas draws so near that one can almost taste it, it is worth taking a few moments to think about the human potential -- the possibilities for human living -- that are presented by the incarna- tion, the fact that God's Word became flesh. One discovery IS that human life can be lived fully and with excite- ment. Moreover, the believer in Christ has a stake in improving the world. I-II313 There's more to a life of color than simply feeling good and be- ing expressive, It has several con- crete components. First, it requires that people be willing to develop their talents. Marie was about 65 when she became more and more concerned about her community. She talked to her neighbors and realized that others also were concerned about the needs of the elderly, a developing drug problem among the young and numerous abandon- ed buildings in disrepair. Although she had never seen herself as a social activist, she started attending council meetings and talking to politicians. Soon she was spending about 50 hours a week as a volunteer organizing and running community campaigns. When I asked her if she had ever expected the mushroom ef- fect of her concerns, she just laughed and said she hadn't thought that it was possible. For some reason, she always felt that her skills were limited when com- pared with what was needed. But when I asked if she would like to go back to being the quiet woman who lived in the house on the corner, she quickly answered that now she was so much more alive than she had ever been before. Not everyone is able to find in themselves the skills needed for certain challenges, but many peo- ple have talents they have not yet tapped. Because the genius of Christian faith is that it is not oriented solely to another world, each attempt a person makes to use God-given skills to improve this world is a way of affirming the choice God made when he picked the human race as a dwell- ing place. [][]D Second, wanting to live life ful- ly as a Christian frequently means taking a risk. The risk may in- volve giving up some security and facing the possibility of failure or rejection. A young man named Brad found this out. Brad volunteered time to work with neglected youths. But he told me he almost quit the first day when a child called him names and spit in his face. Only Brad's deep commitment brought him back a second time. i i II What constitutes "the good life"? Is it something to which Chdstions should ospire, of is it something which by defini- tion excludes them? This week, Faith Todoy's wdters explore whot it means for Christians to live life to the hilt. As they suggest, accumuloting things or moving up the coreer Iod- de are not necessarily synonymous with living fully. Hap- piness, security and fulfillment are more readily found, they say, when people fully exercise their gifts and talents, give of themselves to others, and remain alert to God's stirrings. I I I The third dimension of a life in full color is a willingness to invest energy into creation, replacing the habit of taking from creation. Believing that the effort of fashioning the world continues to- day, the Christian takes steps to contribute to that effort. Joe is a retired man who cared lovingly for his wife, an invalid. After her death and despite his age, he felt that he could still con- tribute to his parish in some way. So he asked the director of religious education if there were some opening that he might fill. Soon she matched him with a group of preschoolers who need- ed a teacher. Since then he has become a favorite of the children and their parents became of his desire to give rather than receive. Marie, Brad and Joe are all ex- amples of people whose lives are in color, not black and white. All three believe that their faith re. quires them to invest energy in living their lives fully. And they know that Christian living has to take place In the world of the here and now. (Father Weber is pastor of St. Thomas More University Parish in Bowling Green, Ohio.)