Dear friends in Christ:
One of my favorite scripture passages is Philippians 4:8.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
I will be the first to admit that I do not always live up to this beautiful advice from St. Paul, but I try to do so. Not just because these words of St. Paul are divinely inspired as is all of Sacred Scripture, but because of the effect this Word of God has in me. When I mope around, criticize, spew negativity, find fault in everything and everybody, pretty soon I am miserable as is anybody who is unfortunate enough to be around me. That is not how I truly want to live and that is not what God wants for me. I am confident that St. Paul never studied psychology or took a counselling course. Yet, his advice is perfect. Change our outlook and perspective, change our way of thinking, change our attitude and then we will change our actions and our lives! If all we see and concentrate on is the negative then all we are going to see and concentrate on is everything that is wrong, bad and imperfect. We become our own worst enemies. We become perpetual victims. We become part of the problem and not part of the solution. When I was a kid learning how to play baseball, my Little League coach told us that if we wanted to hit the ball we had to first believe we could hit the ball. If we start with a defeatist attitude, guess what? We will indeed suffer defeat. When we visualize what victory looks like, our chances for victory increase exponentially.
These days, we are surrounded by an army of pessimists and purveyors of bad news. Nothing is good. Everything is bad. Every silver lining is overshadowed by the dark cloud behind it! Is it any wonder why so many people are afraid, angry and protesting?
You and I are Catholics. What a wonderful gift. What a wonderful life! We are the disciples of Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, the Most Holy Redeemer of the world, the Savior of all mankind! We are the believers of the Good News! As Catholics, you and I get to wake up every day knowing that we are loved by the God who created us in His own image and likeness, that we have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus and that if we live with Jesus and for Jesus in this life, we will reign with Him in the next! That is not just Good News, it is Great News. As Christians, we are called to be the most optimistic people in the world. We are able to see God’s presence in the beauty of creation. We see God’s omnipotence and perfection in a fallen and imperfect world. We see God’s love in every human life. We see and experience God’s perfect goodness, holiness and love whenever we open our hearts, minds and souls. As Catholics, we are not merely a bunch of Pollyannas, who merely pretend to see the good and ignore the bad. We are acutely aware of sin and evil and the horrible consequences they bring. We are aware of our own sinfulness and failures as well as those present in the world around us. But we see the world knowing that sin and evil, while present, are also defeated in the victory of Christ crucified. Our hope is founded on the ultimate reality of God who is all good, all powerful, all merciful, all just, all beautiful and all loving. With Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, how can we not be joyful? How can we not be optimistic? How can we not live each day in hope?
What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who acquits us. Who will condemn? It is Christ Jesus who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written: “For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Be holy and be happy!
In pace Christi,