Columnists Mark my words

When our goods are not good for us

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. He has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich

We’re about two weeks into the new year. So, how are your resolutions going? For some, they’re going . . . going  . . . gone.

For people like me, I need motivation to keep going as this story illustrates:

A loaded SUV pulls into the only remaining campsite. Four kids leap from the vehicle and begin to feverishly unload gear and set up the tent. The boys then rush off to gather firewood, while the girls and their mother set up the camp stove and cooking utensils.

Seeing all this, a nearby camper is impressed. He says to the kids’ father, “That, sir, is some display of teamwork!”

“I have a system,” the father replies. “No one goes to the bathroom until the camp is set up!” (Adapted from a story in “Illustrations Unlimited,” edited by James S. Hewett.)

Now that’s motivation!

It’s said that one way to keep resolutions is let people know about them. Folks can keep you accountable by asking about your progress. So, Leaven readers, here are two of mine for 2024: pursuing self-care and being a better steward.

Part of my self-care is to spend at least 20 minutes a day on BOTC, which stands for “Bring Order to Chaos.” My inspiration comes from the beginning of the Book of Genesis where God, seeing that “the earth was without form or shape,” brings order to the chaos. I’m working to tame the messiness around me, which messes with my mind and soul.

I’ve been motivated to do this as a spiritual exercise because of a book, “Making Room for God: Decluttering and the Spiritual Life.” Author Mary Elizabeth Sperry makes a powerful case for simplicity and order as she leads readers through chapters devoted to clutter and sin, clutter and repentance, clutter and prayer, clutter and the common good, and clutter and spiritual discipline. It’s an easy read but will no doubt highlight things you’ll probably want to include in your next confession!

An effective 20-minute BOTC for me is the “pile method.” It’s simple: Go to an area and put everything that doesn’t belong there into a basket. Take the basket into the living room, dump it on the floor and sort the contents into categories like trash, donate or put away in its proper place. For items that don’t have a “home,” create one. You’ll be surprised at what you can get done in a focused 20 minutes.

My second resolution concerns stewardship and ties into the above resolution. I suffer from “Amazonesia” which is defined as ordering so much so often from Amazon that when the package arrives, you’ve forgotten what you ordered. My “Amazonesia,” however, comes later. I’m so happy with what I’ve ordered that I don’t want to use it right away. So, I store it for some “special time” in the future. (I know, it’s crazy, but I do it.)

Being a good steward means using what I buy . . . or not buying it in the first place. So far in 2024, every day has been like Christmas as I’ve opened those “special time” Amazon purchases and begun to use them. And, naturally, other possessions have been donated to make room for the new.

When my motivation flags, the words of St. Basil the Great echo in my ears: “The bread you hoard belongs to the hungry; the cloak in your wardrobe belongs to the naked; the shoes you let rot belong to the barefoot; the money in your vault belongs to the destitute. All you might help and do not — to all these you are doing wrong.”

O Lord, cure my Amazonesia!

About the author

Fr. Mark Goldasich

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