Column: Do some word processing during Lent

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. he has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.
Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. he has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich

In last Sunday’s first reading, many of us heard a listing of the Ten Commandments. That makes me think of the story about a Jewish rabbi and a Catholic priest who were having a friendly discussion about religion.

The rabbi said, “You know, you Christians have been taking things from us for thousands of years. The Ten Commandments, for instance.”

“Yes, that’s true,” replied the priest. “We did take them from you all right, but you certainly can’t say that we’ve kept them!” (Sad, but true.)

One of the first lists that I memorized was The Ten Commandments, in preparation for my first confession and first Communion. That sparked in me a lifelong love of “rules to live by” lists.

Several years ago, Linton Weeks, the national correspondent for digital news on National Public Radio, gave some insights as to why human beings love lists. Among his insights were: Lists bring order to chaos, help us to remember things, relieve stress and focus the mind. Those are not bad things to keep in mind as we continue on our Lenten journey.

All of us live by some rules of life. In addition to the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes, there’s no shortage of inspiration for Christians, especially on the Internet. Recently, I received an email from a friend in Topeka. The subject line read: “The Ten Commandments (not what you think).” I couldn’t not open it. Rather than being a commentary or explanation of those familiar Old Testament laws, this was instead a list of modern-day sayings meant to be an incentive to live a fuller, holier life. (As with many things on the Net, no author was credited.) Perhaps you’ll find in them some kernels of truth and inspiration:

I. Prayer is not a “spare wheel” that you pull out when in trouble, but a “steering wheel” that directs the right path along life’s journey.

II. Why is a car’s windshield so large and the rearview mirror so small? Perhaps because our past is not as important as our future. So, look ahead and move on.

III. If you need help, ask God. If you don’t, thank God.

IV. All things in life are temporary. If going well, enjoy it; they will not last forever. If going poorly, don’t worry; they can’t last long either.

V. Old friends are gold. New friends are diamond. If you get a diamond, don’t forget the gold, because to hold a diamond, you always need a base of gold.

VI. Often when we lose hope and think this is the end, God smiles from above and says, “Relax! It’s just a bend, not the end.”

VII. When God solves your problems, you have faith in his abilities. When God doesn’t solve your problems, he has faith in your abilities.

VIII. A blind person asked St. Anthony, “Can there be anything worse than losing eyesight?” He replied, “Yes, losing your vision.”

IX. When you pray for others, God listens to you and blesses them. Sometimes when you are safe and happy, remember that someone has prayed for you.

X. Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles, it takes away today’s peace.

I keep a file folder stuffed with inspirational quotes that I’ve come across over the years. I always have several posted in my home, the parish office and at The Leaven.

In addition to the ones above, let me add a few of my favorites:

• Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves. (James Matthew Barrie, creator of Peter Pan)

• Education is not filling a pail but the lighting of a fire. (William Butler Yeats, Irish poet)

• You must practice first, all that you desire to teach others. (St. Bernardine of Siena, the “Apostle of Italy”)

• If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “Thank you,” that would suffice. (Meister Eckhart, German mystic)

What are the inspirational words that you live by? Be on the lookout these remaining weeks of Lent for words that will keep you motivated and challenged. Wisdom is all around us, if only we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear.

I’ll conclude with one last axiom, found on a magnet in the Leaven office: “Jesus loves you . . . but I’m his favorite!”

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