Sunday, August 4, 2019

Are you better off than you were four years ago?

Dear Friends,

It has become something of a norm that every four years, as we inch along toward the Presidential elections, each party asks the same question: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”

Maybe today’s Scriptures are inviting us to ask that same question of ourselves: “Am I happier, more peaceful within myself or am I more stressed out, more anxious and angry, with more sleepless nights?

Am I more content with my life and grateful for it, or is there a void, an emptiness, something missing?

If, indeed, I am at peace, content, grateful, happy, that’s wonderful! I’m on the right track. If not, then Jesus, in today’s Gospel, offers us these questions to ponder: What is most important in my life today? Where is my heart? What are the real treasures of my life? To what am I committed? What would I go to the mat for?

We see Jesus, Qoheleth, and Paul calling us today to connect faith and life. These are not separate aspects of our lives. They are part of our wholeness.

One of the authors I go back to every so often is Paul Wilkes. In his book, Seven Secrets of Successful Catholics, Wilkes distilled these thoughts from travelling around the country listening to people describe their life and faith connections. Other readers have added to or modified his thoughts. A recent version I came across put it this way:

Successful Catholics:
  • Are members of a parish/faith community. They need a home for their spirit, the support of like-minded people. In their worship, they sense an encounter with the Divine, no matter how fleeting it may be.
  • Regularly do things that call them out of themselves. They make time for others.
  • Recognize God in everyday events. They are aware of the closeness of God.
  • Pray. Wilkes notes an amazing variety of prayer styles among Catholics, but the call to prayer is essential.
  • Realize that their actions and life choices make them models for others.

Why don’t you add your own 7th secret?

Let’s hope that this summer finds us sharing the inheritance we have and not greedily storing up for ourselves what we have been given.

~Sister Joan Sobala