by Father Mark Goldasich
I was in the fourth grade when I had a clear vision.
Whoops! Let me clarify: I was in the fourth grade when I got clear vision.
It started with the annual eye exam at school. I remember heading down to the library room where one of those “E” charts was set up.
I dutifully pointed in the direction each “E” was facing . . . and the nurse said, “You need glasses.”
I was devastated. When I got back to my desk, I lifted its lid and actually cried a little bit because I felt like a failure.
Naturally, my folks made an appointment for me with the eye doctor, a Dr. Billingsley. He asked if I had trouble seeing the blackboard or reading. I answered no to both.
Because I was so short, I was always seated in the front desk, close to the board. And, being nearsighted, I had no issues seeing the print in books.
He was really nice as I went through the battery of tests. Deep in my heart, I was hoping the doctor would say the school nurse was wrong! No such luck.
Unbeknownst to me, my mom told the doctor she was worried that she’d have a terrible time getting me to wear my glasses. He told her that she might have a terrible time, but it would be to get me to take my glasses off once I saw all that I was missing.
Eventually, the day of reckoning came when I went to get my new glasses — in a very unfashionable black plastic frame.
The optician adjusted them and said, “Well, how can you see?”
I turned to my mom at the door and said, “Mom, I can see the flowers on your dress from here!” Going outside, I was amazed at how defined the branches were in the trees.
Finally, arriving at my grandparents’ house, I stopped dead at the door leading into the kitchen.
“Hey, you can see the clock from here!” I thought you had to go to the refrigerator and look up before you could see the numbers!
Needless to say, I was sold on wearing glasses.
I thought about this ancient memory because it’s now Catholic Press Month and I realized that I take two very important things in my life for granted: my vision and my ability to read.
I’m humbled by our front-page story this week about Mara Hug, a 12-year-old parishioner at Prince of Peace in Olathe. She has been visually impaired since infancy, yet has not let that slow her down.
I was particularly moved knowing that she reads Braille. That has got to be an effort to learn, but what new worlds have opened up to her through reading.
That leads to the question: How much reading, especially Catholic materials, do you do each week? It’s said that reading the Bible cover to cover, from Genesis to Revelation, would take about 71 hours, reading at a pace similar to that of lectors at Mass.
Dividing those 71 hours by 365 days means that you could make it through the entire Bible in just 12 minutes a day.
Now, I don’t recommend reading the Bible that way, but I would like to challenge all of us to devote just 12 minutes a day to some Catholic “press” (even if that’s online).
And if your home is lacking in this area, remedy that by heading off to a parish library or religious bookstore. Just don’t let the gifts of vision and literacy go to waste, especially with regard to your faith.
One of the best reasons to read comes from the novelist George R.R. Martin, the inspiration behind “Game of Thrones,” who said, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. . . . The man who never reads lives only one.”
Reading this column probably took you about five minutes. Head next to read Mara Hug’s story and you’ll be well on your way to knocking out today’s 12 minutes.
That’s one life down, 999 to go!