Published: August 27, 2017
My dear Parishioners and Friends,
As I sit down to write this column the “great eclipse of 2017” has just ended in our area. Frankly, since we were outside the coast-to-coast of “totality,” here in Baton Rouge the experience was pretty underwhelming. A few pretty shadows on the ground and an awful lot of downtown office-workers taking longer-than-usual breaks outside were pretty much the only signs I saw! (It didn’t get very dark or any cooler, as far as I could tell.) Fortunately, the people across the country who DID get to see the “total” eclipse were rewarded with something fascinating, and apparently rather awe-inspiring.
Frankly, there’s a spiritual message here. Lots of things which we readily and rightly look forward to end up being less-than-superlative. We invest a lot of emotional energy in anticipating things, and fairly often are disappointed when the expected thrill doesn’t measure up to our hopes and expectations. It’s okay to anticipate the thrill, and always to hope for the best, but it’s also important to prepare for something less-than-perfect.
I can think of lots of examples of this. The football season which is about to begin is a good one. We look forward to it so much … but even a great season is usually marred by a few broken hearts (and, even more sadly, broken bones) along the way. Only the overall champion team ends up not being disappointed in some way.
Another example I think of comes from my three decades of experience in Tribunal ministry. Expectations for romantic relationships are often unrealistic and unrewarded too. Brides and grooms who so often spend tons of money on a “showcase wedding” often discover they’re too tired or distracted to enjoy it, and rarely think the extravagance was “worth it.” Even worse, too many couples go into marriage with unrealistic hopes of instant and never-ending bliss. When this doesn’t happen, they feel short-changed if not angry. That kind of attitude won’t help them accept reality though, which when you stop to think about it is the only smart thing to do. Reality is never perfect, and neither is it within anyone’s ability to control. Unpredictable issues arise with children, finances, changing interests, health challenges, etc., and these are guaranteed to cause unhappiness if spouses expect perfection. If one actually thinks that boredom and loneliness will disappear in marriage, or that commitment to a spouse is basically recreational and not sacrificial, it won’t be long before a major crisis develops.
You know, that’s what makes “reality television” such a lie. It doesn’t portray reality. It’s a fiction designed to be entertaining. It deliberately seeks to entice our love of adventure, of mystery, or something like that. But real reality isn’t designed. It just happens, and the true adventure of life is found in the adjustments, discoveries, and often the endurance which must then follow. A true marriage will be fulfilling and worth it, but is rarely “entertainment” in any conventional sense!
Are YOU “in touch with reality”? Can you honestly give thanks for miracles you’ve experienced and glories that you’ve glimpsed? Have you accepted the limitations of yourself and others, and of this world of ours? Or are you mostly constantly disappointed – or worse, angry – with the way things are, with the way your life is? Are you overwhelmed only by challenges and never beauty, and willingly underwhelmed by just about everything else? Our answers to these kinds of questions are clues to the kinds of people we are – and clues to the quality of the faith we have!
Sincerely in the Lord,
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