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Evansville, Indiana
December 4, 1987     The Message
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Faith Today Supplement, The Message, Catholic Diocese of Evansville, December 4,1987 3 is like making chili... ly said, "Let go or you'll never be heard." J(n realized the nurse wasn't referring to physical healing alone. The time spent with this nurse "helped me to see a fresh meaning in life," Jean says. "Though we rarely referred to God I felt him in her." Jean returned to her career but it no longer consumes her. She also returned to her potter's wheel and now teaches minority group members the intricacies of real estate. And her family, who stood pain- fully by as they watched her soar, welcomed her back to family celebrations. At Christmas they gloried in Jean's presence, rather than her usual generous presents! Some people, through some wondrous grace, seem to hear God more easily. Steve, a farmer, is such a person. "Every spring, when the bean crop starts sprouting, I feel I'm in partnership with God .... "You migtit say that the land and I have a kind of love affair. "Sure a farmer's life is hard," Steve continued, "but it's real and important. I'm third generation on this farm and my kids and grand- kids are part of it too .... We don't have a lot of money but we can't complain." A few years ago, around Christmas, his doctor sent Steve to Fl"rrida after an operation. "That's " when I really nearly died. I just didn't fit in," Steve says. "I missed the family and all the celebrations we always have .... Now I know Joseph's feeling on Christmas Eve. I was a stranger in a strange land." For years I have relished Steve's harvest and his friendship. Last year, when Steve learned I was organizing a purchase of supplies for an inner-city parish soup kitch- en, he loaded my car with his own contributions and added flowers "to feed the soul." Sadly, some folks don't achieve Steve's harmony. The world's noise drowns out their inner discord. Afraid of missing something, they careen through life like drunken bees. Others more fortunate, however, generate excitement about living. They have a sense of personal worth and responsibility. They know where they fit in the world, and are concerned and curious about people and conditions beyond themselves. They experience their share of pain and sadness. But knowing their weakness as well as their strength, they turn to God and other people for help. If you ask what the "good life" is, they dwell on values such as love, peace, beauty, truth, goodness. The formulas vary but these people find the proportions just right for them. (Mrs. Hughes is a religious :#ducation consultant and a free- lance writer.) tg. 3f drink and be merry? run with it" (Amos 9:13). People's dreams of heaven tell us a great deal about what they consider the ideal life. Among the early Israelites, these dreams con- lently were colored by visions of abundant crops. However, the Israelites were far from thoroughly materialistic. The more reflective people among them realized that only God could make them truly happy. A happy old age was an impor- tant aspect of a good life, as were children. In an era when little or nothing was known of an afterlife, longevity was looked upon as a supreme blessing. "The Lord bless you from Zion:... May you see your ahildren's children" (Psalm 128:5-6). Again, the psalmist describes the happy person in these terms: "Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the recesses of your home; your children like olive plants around your table" (Psalm 128:3). Naturally there were some who were not content with these heart- warming pleasures. They got greedy and sought fulfillment in the acquisition of things. The biblical authors warn that this is folly. Amos roundly de- nounces the selfish luxury of the upper classes: "Lying on beds of ivory, stretched comfortably on their couches, they eat lambs taken from the flock and calves from the stalls!... They drink wine from bowls and anoint themselves with the best oils" (6:4,6). Perhaps the most eloquent treat- ment of what makes for the "full life" is that of Qoheleth (Ec- clesiastes). He had tried everything: wealth, pleasure, emp- ty laughter, even wisdom and found them all wanting, "a chase after wind." Eventually he came back to the simple pleasures which alone guarantee happiness and fulfillment. "Go, eat your bread with joy and drink your wine with a merry heart, because it is now that God favors your works. At all times let your garments be white and spare not the perfume for your head. Enjoy life with the wife whom you love all the days of the fleeting life that is granted you under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 9:7-9). (Father Castelot is a professor of Scripture at St. John's Seminary, Plymouth, Mich.) FOOD FOR THOUGHT I What image of "the good life" first springs to mind for you? When you reflect on it, does this image have both strong and weak features? What are they? What does it popularly mean to live life to the hilt? What are some images of this? Nell Parent suggests that for Christians, living fully requires a pas- sionate involvement with life's events. What does he mean? Pope John Paul II insists repeatedly that living a full life means not "having more" but "being more." What does he mean? What are some ways that Christians might set out to develop the ability to get the most out of life? .O-O-.O. Second Helpings. How do people learn to pray? What aids help them get started? Prayer is meant "to be an enjoyable time spent in company with God," says Father David Knight in An Armchair Retreat. A first step is "to make your prayer time a time of day you look forward to; one you feel cheated of if you miss it." Try out different locations for praying: lying in bed, drinking coffee, an armchair. Find the most comfortable place, he sug- gests. The second step is to find an icebreaker, perhaps the Bible, something "that gets you started, keeps you focused and provides enough stimulating input to keep you going." Making decisions is a third key to praying the priest identifies: for instance, making a decision to pray at a certain time each day or week, or to believe "that God really loves you after all." (Our Sunday Visitor Inc., 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, Ind. 46750. 1987. Paper- back, $5.95.) -O--O--O- Your Will Can Be A Prayer Your Last Will and Testament can be more than a legal document. It offers an opportunity for serious reflection and prayer -- a holy process of puffing all things In order. That's because wdtlng a will requires more than a mere listing of posses- sions. It's also a time to review the feel- Ings you have for your family, friends and the Church. Doesn't It make sense mmmtommmmmmmmmm= The CBr, holic Church RXT00NalON sooi00w 35 EaeL Wocker' {r'tve * Chl;I. tll,ft)Jt O([.Jl Dear Father 81attery: [] Please send me Extension's free will planning kit. Rev./Sr./Mr./Mrs./Mlss/Ms. Addres8 City State ZIp. Blrthdate _.___._J....___..__/. Telephone ( ) This information will be kept strictly confidential. that such an Important document be an extension of your faith? Your will then becomes a statement of your belief In God and His Church. Extension's latest will planning booklet, "Your Will Can Be a Prayer," offers suggestions on how you can make the drafting of your will a simple spldtual exercise. Wdte today for a free copy. =.= m m ==   l= == == lib == i it= rio In IB In =Blm =B =lBtlB FT0942 42