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

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Faith Today Supplement, The Message, Catholic Diocese of Evansville, December 4, 1987 The real gusto By NeU Parent NC News Service Z orba the Greek, in Nikos Kazantzakis' classic tale, lives life to the hilt. He en- thusiastically and energetically welcomes each day. Like a small child, he sees things around him with fresh eyes, obser- ving them as if for the first time. Whether eating, drinking, work- ing or loving, Zorba gives each ac- tion his full attention. "What's hap- pening today, this minute, that's what I care about," he tells his boss. Zorba shares this philosophy of life one day with a friend while he is working. The world is in the mess it is in today "all because of doing things by halves," Zorba says, "saying things by halves, be- ing good by halves." "Do things properly by God," Zorba says. "One good knock of I I each nail and you'll win through. God hates a half-devil 10 times more than an archdevil!" Does God want us to live life fully, to the hilt, as Zorba suggests? It seems so. After all, we have the words of Jesus that he came so we might have life and have it to the full (John 10:10). Isn't the canonization of saints a testimony that people have understood this message of Jesus and have chosen to live life fully. Mary, Benedict, Francis, Teresa and countless others gave themselves freely to life without counting the cost. They preferred to live life rather than merely to possess it. We hear a lot today about living fully. But there can be a hollow ring to these messages. Sometimes we are lured to believe that we live more fully by directly acquiring things and compiling certain types of experiences. For instance, a beer ad says, "You only go around once so go for the gusto." Other commercials advise, "Be all that you can be in the Army" and "Coke is life." Every day messages beckon us to believe that life will be more hap- py, more meaningful, with certain products. What makes the offers so tan- talizing is that they frequently strike some deep hunger for mean- ing and happiness in people. We do want to live fully; our very nature seems to cry out for this. But here the Christian paradox enters. While we seek to live life to the hilt, we cannot do so through the accumulation of things and experiences. Indeed, it is like having mud in our hands. The harder we grasp, the more it escapes between our fingers. " No, to gain we must let go; to receive we must give; to live we must die. "The world is in the mess it is in today 'all because of doing things by halves,' Zorba says, 'saying things by halves, being good by halves.'" To live fully we need God. And we discover God not in passively gazing upon the stream of life but in passionately entering into it. To find God we must be open and alert like a child awaiting a parent's love. To live fully we must be present to those who share life with us. To be fully present to one's spouse, children, co-workers, friends and neighbors is to begin to see them for who they are -- reflections of God. God frequently comes to us through others. And God comes to others in and through us and what we do. To live fully we also need to give ourselves over without reser- vation to what we are doing at this moment in such a way that we ful- ly exercise our gifts and talents. In so doing we make our small but important contribution to God's reign. The closing lines of Robert Frost's poem, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," are favorites of mine: The woods are lovely, dark and deep But I have promises to keep And miles to go before I sleep. Christians appreciate the beauty and goodness of life. But they try to keep things in perspective, putting the important things first. (Parent is a staff assistant in the U.S. Catholic Conference Department of Education.) Life is By Jane Wolford Hughes NC News Service, W i hen I was young my grandmother came each fall to help my mother can chili sauce. I remember the wonderful odors that filled the warm kitchen, but most impressive was the ritual of stirring and tasting for the just-right flavor. They had practiced their art so many times that they knew just what combination of spices d tomatoes they wanted. Living a good, full life is a little like making chili sauce. Without a certain amount of practice in living and getting to know ourselves, it is hard to know when we have reached a just-right formula. Muddling through life is more common than we like to admit. Jean, in her early 30s, was a top real-estate broker. To concentrate fully on her career, she delayed forming close relationships. Then three years ago Jean ig;.r nored a painful cough until, final- ly, she came down with pneu- monia. While recuperating, an old song ran through her mind, "Is That All There Is?" "It was a bitter time for me," she says. "I had to admit that my success was all I had." Jean began to talk with a caring nurse, venting anger and resent- ment about "the emptiness and the mess I was making of my life.' '* The nurse comforted her and final- By Father John Castelot NC News Service T he men and women of the Bible had various ideas about what mad, up the good life. Of course, the times were always changing. What made for fullness of life in an agricultural setting seemed boring after the people moved to urban, commer- cial settings. Yet the Israelites remained a basically simple people. Their greatest happiness was found in simple joys: not in things but in people; not in having but in living. In the prophet Micah's vision of an age of peace and contentmene, every man would "sit under his own vine or under his own fig tree, undisturbed" (Micah 4:4). And an appendix to the biblical book of Amos describes the longed:for "day of the Lord" in terms of superabundant produce: "Yes, days are coming, says the Lord, when the plowman shall overtake the reaper and the vin- tager, him who sows the seed. The juice of grapes shall drip down the mountains and all the hills shall