by Father Mark Goldasich
“Don’t worry, be happy.”
Remember this song that was so popular some years back?
If this song were written today, though, its title would probably be “Worry, Don’t Be Happy.” At least that’s the impression given by the many prophets of gloom and doom that are popping up more and more frequently in the media.
That message must be disturbing to the young women and men graduating at this time of year.
If I were addressing them, I would try to give another vision of the world. Granted, there are serious problems out there but as Christians we approach them with courage and hope. Using our faith, intelligence, talents and dreams, we work to find solutions, not excuses. In other words, we’re to be people of action.
Our world desperately needs a generation of “doers.” However, that doing must be guided by some principles. These principles can be found in some books that I would recommend make it into the hands of every graduate:
1) a readable copy of the Bible. This book is not a bestseller by accident. It is the sourcebook of our faith. Knowing its contents well and putting them into practice paves the way to a deep friendship with Jesus and a holy life.
2) some sort of prayer book. This book should have traditional Catholic prayers to keep them fresh in the graduate’s mind and plenty of contemporary prayers that speak to the gamut of experiences that are part and parcel of a young person’s life. Prayer is the ideal way to reflect upon those experiences of life and put them into perspective.
3) a subscription to some newspapers and magazines, both religious and secular. Truly religious people do not go through life with their heads buried in the sand. If Christians want to speak to the world and ultimately change it for the better, we must know what and how the world is thinking.
4) copies of “Life’s Little Instruction Book, Volumes I & II.” These small books by H. Jackson Brown contain 1,028 practical suggestions on how
to live a happy and fulfilling life and, in doing so, how to make the world a better place. Among the many gems found in these books is the following: “Worry makes a hard pillow. When something’s troubling you, before going to sleep, jot down three things you can do the next day to help solve the problem.”
These little books flesh out the simple and practical philosophy of the Christophers: “It is better to light one candle than curse the darkness.”
5) an address book (with stationery and stamps) containing the names of relatives and friends. Nothing is more treasured in life than a letter from a loved one. Unlike phone calls a letter can be enjoyed over and over again by the recipient. Although it takes more effort than a phone call, letter writing sharpens a person’s ability to think and write clearly — skills useful throughout life. Reaching out to those we love by letters continues that good example started by St. Paul in the Scriptures.
These books teach graduates a basic lesson: they can be problem solvers and make a real difference in the world. Although the small things proposed here won’t cure all that ails the world, they certainly will make the immediate world a holier place.
Seeing the good they can bring into the world by these simple actions may help graduates to sing once again: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”
And the world, the beneficiary of their kindness and concern, can sing right along with them.