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Malakoff, Texas
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October 22, 1987     The Malakoff News
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October 22, 1987
 

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PAGE 14 JANUARY 13,2001 l i ARKANSAS CATHOL BISHOP'S COLUMN wins In some 7"ou n er know where you're gong to ~find inspiration -- or hope. Lately I ve JL been seeing it all around me. What I'm getting at is how I am no longer worried about what seemed to be a coming trend. Signs all around started to indicate that we were falling into what I perceived to be a scary place, namely, a society character- ized by impersonalism. So much of what I was reading, listening to and viewing on tel- evision seemed to indicate that we were indeed entering a kind of cold new age where technology was taking over. With words like "Interact," "digital," "Web," "wireless" or "matrix" resounding everywhere, indications were that we would soon be interacting primarily wiih ma- chines, not persons. Bad times, indeed. I admit, I'm probably exagger- ating. But the spe- cial-effects media environment has brought an am of disturbing change into our subcon- The Bottom Line scious reality. I Antoinette Bosco began to worry: Can we remain human in an environment of high tech? Wdl, let me say there's hope that the human is winning out. I think I have proof that while high tech is here to sta); it is not going to take over our lives. One reason I say this is because I've been several times to a store that carries the raw materials for just about any craft you can think of. I thought I'd only find grandmoth- ers there, like myself, looking for crochet thread. Wrong. There I found mothers with young children buying raw materials to cre- ate all kinds of pleasant products, from play- things to decoratiom. I've gotten into some great conversations with people in this store. I learned it is one of a chain of such outlets nationally. These talks have shovm me that the human gift of imag- ination and creativity rates higher these days than I can even remember from the past. Then there's another place I find the human need for communi , a place where personal touches and comfortable settings reign high: our local libraries. While most now have rooms for computers and the lntemet, you also find a traditional friendliness and many new offerings geared to inform and even entertain those who come in. I've known one library that has "Fireside Fridays" when people can come in, sit by the fire, have tea and cookies, read a book or do their knitting. Libraries are showing that high tech and human needs and compan- ionship can live compatibly side by side. I've also known parishes offering varieties of hospitality Sundays, where churchgoers are offered refreshments after Masses, hav- ing the opportunity to get to know other parishioners and their families. What a fine way to recognize the need people have to relate humanly to others. I'm convinced that these are not simply signs that the pendulum is swinging against the depersonalization introduced when the high-tech age made its entry. I think this is an affirmation that nothing can really change the truth -- the truth that we are, indeed, made in the unage of our Maker. ml t was a scorching July day 14 years ago that my family last posed for a formal poruait. There we are, my mother and her five children, spouses and grand- children, standing or sitting at attention in the living room, dressed in Sunday's best, shoes spit-shined and hair freshly- combed, smiling as if there were no care in the world. What the photograph doesn't tell, however, is how that July day was one of the hottest on record, and how the air conditioner was being taxed to its limit. It doesn't tell how the photographer and his assistant had to use every stuffed animal in the vicinity to coax the little ones to smile. It doesn't tell how we had privately warned him to make sure that at least the comer of my mother's newly reuphol- stered couch appeared in the picture. It doesn't tell how I was in a hurry to drive to a wedding 100 miles away. It doesn't tell what was in our minds and hearts that day --- the joys, the memories, the cares, the hopes, the dreams, the worries. The final product, while beautiful and cherished by each of us, does not really say anything about our family;, it only records what we looked like, and how we dressed, that hot July day. Families are more than a posed por- wait. We are living, breathing communi- ties of persons who share a heritage and give one another an identity. We cannot be captured by the blink of a camera,s shutter, for we are always changing, grow- ing and adjusting. Rarely is there a time that could be called "status quo" in a fam- ily! We are old, reaching back generations; but we are also young, constantly stretch- ing toward the furore. After 1-40 deared of ice last week, I drove to Memphis for the weekend. Si ng in my mother's kitchen with my family, I was struck by the variety of rela- lionships I had with those present. I am son, brother, brother-in-law, uncle. My nieces and nephews know me as "Unde Peter" -- and that "uncle rela- tionship" defines and colors how they see me. Most of them were born after I was ordained a priest, and when they're trying to be funny, they call me "Uncle Bishop J. Peter Sartain Father," or now, "Uncle Bishop." Our relationships with others, particu- larly family relationships, form us in more ways than we know. At the center of the Christmas season we celebrated the feast of the Holy Family, recalling that the Son of God was born not only in flesh and blood, but also into a human family. Family life was thus redeemed by the love of God. It is dear that as the early Christians began to reflect on .Jesus' life, death and resurrection, they recognized that all human relationships -- most especially family relationships --- are to be unique for people of faith. As St. Paul would say, they are to be "in Christ." Everything in human life has been transformed by Christ, and our relationship with him should color every human relationship of which we are part. The family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus was by no means care-free. The essence of their lives is no more captured by a statue than ours is captured by a portrait. They formed a family that knew both the joy of a newborn son and the disorientation of political upheaval and personal tragedy. To be sure, their family was fueled by you o As much aspart of me likes to be "in " this memendously tactful theoryl the know, given my druthers there In sharing this whole THINK thing with are certain aspects of life to which I'd my Tuesday morning Cursillo group, I told rather remain ignorant. Things like discov- ering there's enough fat in avocadoes, green olives and movie theatre popcorn to choke a horse. Or that here's no such thing as a scrunched up twitch of the nose to instantly restore one's house to a "deanliness is next to godliness" state. But what I'd probably most prefer to be oblivious to is something I stumbled across while station surfing on radio driving through "Nowhere," Mo., on our way home from Nebraska last Thanksgiving. Little did I know my random search would yield such a big fish, but in less lime than it takes to say, Are you talking to me God?" I happened upon a Christian radio program whose message has stuck with and challenged me ever since. In an effort to summarize what I heard that day, it basically boils down to pausing to T-H-I- N-K before speaking. That is, before saying any- thing, first ask: Is what I'm about to say true? Is it helpful? Is it impiring? Is it nev_essary? And lastly, is it kind? The speaker then went on to strongly suggest if we can't answer "yes" to all five, perhaps we better "think" again. You talk about one tall order. Even on a trial run basis, there have been times I've lit- erally been tongue-tied attempting to apply them it seriously has me wondering whether this newfound criteria will render me mute, or at the very least, only able to dism sunny weather and world geography. But what if I did consistently pause to THINK before speaking? What if we all did? Would the loud buzz we know as conversa- tion be reduced to mere exchanges of ThereseRohr pleasantries? Is it even possible to only and always say that which is true, hell> ful, inspiring, necessary and kind? And in the midst of pondering all this, where does the "need to vent" fit in because I don't know about you, but generally when I'm frustrated with someone or some thing, rarely do the words that fall from my lips fit within the con- text of the "lab five." Acting on the suggestion that Jane, one of my Tuesday morning prayer pals, offered, I've spent some time with my nose in the God's extraordinary grace to Mary and ~21/ss~ Joseph in light of their role in salvation; still, it was a grace that called for response. ' What gave them strength was their unfail- ing confidence that the love of God was at work through it all, for despite the uncer- tainties they gave themselves to him above all else. The Holy Family. col Our families are holy not when diffi- culties cease, but when we learn to turn to -laed God as our only source of strength. Our families are holy not when we [MoVe never argue or disagree, but when we for- !death give rather than keep fists tightly clinched. iN, Our families are holy not when we stop ]Unim having problems, but when we coura-[cutioi geously ask for help, trusting that God will i be true to his promises. ! Our families are holy not because par- ic0uld ents and kids never have differences, but lact: t} because despite our differences we never ]Unite give up on one another, i Our families are holy not when parents always make the right decisions, but when we discover that wisdom comes from prayer- and that we'll probably never know whether we're wise or not. Our families are holy not when we look at joy as our own accomplishment, but when we see joy as one of God's blessings, for which we can give constant thanks. Our families are holy not when we appear outwardly straight and polished as a portrait, but when we realize that God is using all the characters and all the drama that pass through our lives as the very means to make us holy. Our families are holy not when we have reached our goals and retired, but when we have surrendered ourselves unconditionally to lifelong growth in Christ. May Christ be the prism through whom we pass every relationship in our lives. Holy families, yours and mine. your book of James, particularly Chapter 3. you know that including those found James, there are also more than 150 ent references to the tongue in the Most of which, I'm discovering, admonish t to get hold of the little buggers? Would the loud buzz we as conversation be reduced mere exchanges of And as for those many, many lashing" Scripture passages? Probably has proven to be more personally for me than James 3:9-10: "...With tongue) we praise our Lord and Father, with it we curse men, who have been in God's likeness. Out of the same come praise and cursing. My brothers, should not be." Although part of me would still prefer t avoid this newfound awareness of the of the tongue, it's too late to dismiss THINK theory again. Which explains why Psalm 141:3 is now bathroom mirror. "Set a guard Lord my mouth, a gatekeeper at my lips."