by Father Mark Goldasich
“Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.”
This bumper sticker made me laugh out loud the other day. With a new school year just around the corner, I thought it might be good to pass on some pearls of wisdom to returning students (as well as all of us who are students of life):
- Two wrongs are only the beginning.
- Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.
- No one is listening until you make a mistake.
- The hardness of the butter is proportional to the softness of the bread.
- Borrow money from pessimists; they don’t expect it back.
- Monday is an awful way to spend 1/7th of your life.
- Love may be blind, but marriage is a real eye-opener.
- If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple of payments.
- He who hesitates is probably right.
- For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.
- If at first you don’t succeed, then skydiving isn’t for you.
- Some 42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.
- A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
- Attempt to get a new car for your spouse: It will be a great trade.
- You never really learn to swear until you learn to drive.
- The shinbone is a device for finding furniture in a dark room.
- If the shoe fits, get another one just like it.
- A flashlight is a case for holding dead batteries.
- Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
I hope some of these observations gave you a chuckle or two. One serious “pearl,” though, is that no one has a life where everything goes right all the time. Inevitably, we all experience disappointments, obstacles, trials, heartbreaks, fears and detours on the road of life.
These things are like knots in a shoelace. Usually a knot happens when we’re in a hurry, and the harder we pull on that knot, the more stubborn it becomes. The only way to effectively deal with a knot is with patience, focus and persistence. At times, too, the knot is too much for us and we have to ask for help, for more nimble fingers to undo it.
Shortly after Pope Francis was elected, I heard that he had a favorite Marian devotion that he discovered back in 1986 as a priest studying in Germany for his doctorate. He visited the Church of St. Peter am Perlach in Augsburg and saw a painting entitled “Mary, Undoer of Knots.” The main image shows the Blessed Mother, flanked by two angels. The angel on the right is handing her a white ribbon tangled with knots. The angel on the left holds the ribbon as it comes from Mary’s hands, now smooth and untangled.
Apparently, the idea originated with St. Irenaeus (d. 202), who wrote a meditation based on the parallel that St. Paul drew between Adam and Christ. Irenaeus then compared Eve and Mary, writing: “Eve, by her disobedience, tied the knot of disgrace for the human race; whereas Mary, by her obedience, undid it.”
Sadly, there is no shortage of knots in life, problems or struggles that seem to bedevil us. So, when your life gets knotty — or perhaps when you’re simply naughty — take a deep breath, focus and ask for a little bit of heavenly help by saying this prayer of Pope Francis: “Through your grace, your intercession, and your example, deliver us from all evil, Our Lady, and untie the knots that prevent us from being united with God, so that we, free from sin and error, may find him in all things, may have our hearts placed in him, and may serve him always in our brothers and sisters. Amen.”
And, in conclusion, let me offer one final pearl of wisdom: “A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.”