Columnists Mark my words

Column: Will you choose the bottle or the house?



by Father Mark Goldasich


That sound, signaling a text had come in, woke me up. Fumbling for my glasses, I picked up my phone and read the message: “My phone controls my TV.”

The text came from a friend who had just gotten a new cellphone. I thought, “Although it’s nice and interesting that your phone and TV are now speaking to one another, did you have to tell me about it at 1:04 a.m.?”

An apologetic message came the next day, explaining that the 1:04 a.m. text went “rogue . . . to unintended recipients” in the middle of a conversation with someone else. The text itself was no big deal, but I chuckled at the thought that even though we adults aren’t technically in school anymore, we still get so excited about something new that we just have to share it with someone as soon as possible.

Some students are already in school and most will head back next week. A new school year always moves me into “student mode,” eager to learn something new.

I’m reminded of a story about two men who lived in a very arid part of the world. It only rained there briefly every few weeks. About the only things that were plentiful were cacti, lizards and sand flies.

One day, the men saw a picture of Niagara Falls and couldn’t believe the abundance of water there. It became their dream to see the falls in person. Eventually, their dream came true.

As they witnessed the cascading water, both were awed at the sight. One man pulled out two small medicine bottles from his pocket, bent down and filled them up with the water.

“You know,” he said to his friend, “I think that I’m going to come here every couple of months or so and fill up a bottle or two!”

The response of the other man? He promptly moved to the falls and built a house there.
So, which man do you resemble?

A popular myth says that we humans only use about 10 percent of our brains. Neurologists tell us that this is absolutely not the case, but I do think it’s safe to say that we barely scratch the surface when it comes to discovering the richness, the marvels, of our world.

And, that’s even more the case when it comes to our Catholic faith. With over 2,000 years of history, there’s a “Niagara falls” of knowledge and wisdom available to us, yet many folks rarely explore that. We’re kind of like the man in the story who sees the falls but only wants to take a taste back home — just a bottle or two. It’s like folks who come to Mass but, after that hour or so, don’t give their faith another thought until the next weekend rolls around.

Make this school year different. Why not plan to build a house next to the falls to be able to drink deeply of what our faith has to offer? Most parishes kick into a higher gear now that school is back in session. There is no shortage of opportunities to grow in the faith, from Bible studies to RCIA programs to retreats. Looking beyond parish boundaries, our calendar on page 13 lists even more opportunities for prayer, workshops and classes. Social events — like picnics, dinners and festivals — help us to experience the rich diversity of our archdiocese. And, unlike formal education, now you get to choose your own “curriculum.”
Growing up, each school day began with prayer. As we embrace a new year of learning, let’s say this prayer, adapted from the Book of Blessings:

“Lord our God, in your wisdom and love you surround us with the mysteries of the universe. Send your Spirit upon us and fill us with your wonder, wisdom and blessings. Grant that during this academic year, we may devote ourselves to studying our faith and our world, and sharing what we have learned with others. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a house to build!

About the author

Fr. Mark Goldasich

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