by Father Mark Goldasich
I suspect that I’ll be one of the few celebrating this on April 15. And, no, I’m not talking about Income Tax Day.
April 15 is National Rubber Eraser Day! I’m not sure how many people — with the exception of some grade school kids — even use pencils anymore, let alone erasers.
The eraser’s origin goes back to before the discovery of the New World, when Indians in Central and South America tapped into wild rubber trees called “cachuchus.” In 1770, an English chemist, Joseph Priestly, found a use for small pieces of the sticky cachuchu-tree derivative: as erasers. He coined the term “rubber eraser” because it was so effective in rubbing out pencil marks.
Later in 1770, Edward Nairne developed the first marketable rubber eraser. Charles Goodyear, after discovering the process of vulcanization in 1839, made rubber erasers standard.
Finally, in 1858, Hyman Lipman from Philadelphia patented the pencil with an eraser on the end.
As an adult, I still use pencils, along with a large, separate eraser or two nearby. Why do I still use pencils and erasers? Well, they’re incredibly cheap, they don’t have ink that will dry up and they save a lot of frustration when I’m doing a challenging crossword puzzle or Ken-Ken.
I’ve also found that people are much less likely to walk off with them or “borrow” them.
So, why this talk of erasers? Well, this little story was the trigger:
A woman was standing on a curb, waiting for the traffic light to change. On the opposite curb was a girl about 17 years old. The woman noticed that the girl was crying.
When the light changed, each started across the street. Just as they were about to meet, the woman’s motherly instincts came rushing to the surface. Every part of her wanted to reach out and comfort that girl. But the woman passed her by. She didn’t even greet her; she just kept going.
Hours later, the tear-filled eyes of that girl continued to haunt the woman. Over and over, she said to herself, “Why didn’t I turn to her and say, ‘Can I be of help?’ Sure, she might have rejected me, but so what! Only a few seconds would have been enough to let her know that someone cared for her. Instead, I passed on by. I acted as if she didn’t exist.” (Found in “More Sower’s Seeds: Second Planting,” by Brian Cavanaugh, TOR.)
As a confessor, the sins most overlooked by penitents are those of omission, the times that they could have done something for someone but chose not to, like the woman above. This could be a compliment left unspoken, a volunteer opportunity ignored, a friendship neglected, or a word of forgiveness withheld.
Author Matthew Kelly sees an antidote to the mistake of these missed opportunities by embracing “holy moments,” being aware of ways to live our faith in small actions and then actually doing them.
As we near the end of another Lenten season, it’s time to take stock. How well did you use these days? If you’ve had a lackluster Lent, don’t despair. As we enter into Holy Week, commit to performing multiple, daily “holy moments.”
And don’t forget the “coming to church” part.
Although the Triduum is the most sacred time of the church’s year, many people jump from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday without celebrating the days in between.
Read Michael Podrebarac’s excellent explanation of the Triduum on pages 8-9 to get a sense of why these days are so important to our faith life. Don’t make the mistake of being too busy to come to church.
This week, let’s celebrate wholeheartedly the One who came to erase our mistakes, our sinfulness, our selfishness and our hardness of heart.