Everybody who reads this piece probably wants the same things, world peace, an end to disease, an end to hunger, while at the same time to be left alone in comfort to live life the way they want to. The problem is that having and enjoying the latter personal life is actually in direct opposition to achieving the former objectives. It is in fact because of the latter that the former are impossible.
We live in a world that is falling apart quickly, and is not giving us what we want, even though in all reality our needs are being met or are able to be met. But then, that is another matter.
So, if the world is not to our liking, we have a number of options.
Here is one I do not fancy, nor should you. The world lost a great comedic mind the other day. Robin Williams, who has made my side split more often than I can remember, brought me to tears when I read that he had committed suicide. I cannot possibly imagine how much he must have been torn apart by depression, by the demons that haunted him. I cannot judge the state of his soul when he died, but pray that he was able to submit himself to God in that final moment. But, I do feel saddened at the loss of the laughter he brought to us all, and the subtle wisdom that often was lying beneath the laughs. The world is not a better place without him in it.
Another option we have is to just do more of what we are doing already, since maybe that is all that is required to get to where we want to be. However, again, that is not likely going to work. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.
Therein lies the frailty of the human condition. In fact, in the human condition we are conditioned to respond to stimuli the way that we do. We are conditioned by our family of origin, by the media, by the events of our lives, and by the devil, who wants to defeat God and take as many of us to eternity in Hell with him.
I hazard to guess that most of us won't take the suicide route, though more do so every day. No, we are likely to just keep on keeping on as it were, maybe doing more to see if it will help, or getting depressed that what we are doing is not working, and maybe get a prescription for tranquilizers to see if that will help. That is not meant as a condemnation of tranquilizers, just not an endorsement of them as the be all and end all of solving problems in our lives.
It seems to me that there is another and a better answer. Individually, we cannot change the world, but we can make a change in our own world. By that I don't mean a new diet, more or less exercise, better hobbies, more tofu or less steak.
No, I am referring to a change in attitude.
We see the world not as it is, but as we are, or so have said numerous wise ones. We cannot change the world, nor can we really change who we are. But, we can change our attitude, and in doing so we can change what we are committed to.
As readers will know, I am following carefully the exploits of Father Gordon MacRae and Pornchai Maximilian Moontri, two inmates of the New Hampshire State Men's Prison over at These Stone Walls, Father Gordon's blog.
I chose the word exploits intentionally because exploits are "exciting acts" and also can be "notable or heroic actions."
You might think that what Bill Gates and his family do on the yacht that they are renting at $500,000 per week for their three week summer vacation is exciting, and that two prisoners in a state prison is hardly up to par with that. Well, in one sense that is true. In a couple of weeks, Bill, Melinda and their family and billions will be back in Washington State or wherever, doing whatever with whomever, and Father Gordon and Pornchai will still be in prison in New Hampshire.
But, I am pretty sure that in a couple of weeks Father Gordon and Pornchai and their associates in the NH Pen exploits will have drawn them many steps closer to the Heart of Jesus Christ, closer to their own salvation, and closer to holiness.
On the other hand, Bill, Melinda Gates et al cannot buy that no matter how much money they put up. It is not for sale. It is a free gift from Jesus, because He already paid for it on Calvary.
The Gates' can do all the wild and crazy things that money can buy. Father Gordon and Pornchai operate on a wild and crazy plane that is far higher, far greater, and far wilder and crazier than the Gates family can imagine. They are operating on a spiritual plane, not merely a physical plane.
We all want freedom, but we want freedom from pain, from suffering, from injustice, from hurt. Yet, in our daily lives we inflict pain and suffering on those we love, and even more so on those we don't know to love by ignoring their plight. We inflict injustice on those who come to us for help that we ignore, or treat haphazardly, and we inflict hurt on others emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally.
The only way to get complete freedom is to give away what freedom you have. Whatever freedom you or I think we have, give it away. Am I crazy? Yes, I am, thank you very much and I intend to get crazier every day from here on in.
Father Gordon, Pornchai, and a few other men like Mike Ciresi in the Pen have consecrated themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. That was a very heroic exploit. Consecration, is a solemn act of dedicating oneself to a higher purpose. What happened to them in doing that was that their eyes began to open. I know. I have done it too, and that is what happens.
By the nature of being incarcerated, they did not have a lot of freedom, but what little they had, they gave away anyway. They gave it to Mary to take to her son Jesus that He might use it to his greater glory, to their sanctification, and that of others as He alone saw fit.
That eye opening exploit was so miraculous for them there in the prison, that they signed up for another eye opener, a retreat that takes off from their Consecration. It is called "Consoling the Heart of Jesus", and is such a logical next step. Somebody said to me a number of years ago: "Anything worth doing is worth doing to excess."
If you are consecrated to Jesus and Mary, then to console the heart of Jesus, Mary's Son is the obvious next step.
Father Gordon in his latest article at These Stone Walls tells a little about this next step.
Father Gordon and Pornchai and their friends have let go of what little freedom they have in a place filled with people who were put there generally because they committed acts that were seriously antisocial, and live in a peace and joy that frankly we cannot really imagine in the comfort of our living rooms, and big screen TVs.
Can we be like Dismas, the good thief on the cross beside Jesus, who in his last moments of life on earth consecrated himself to Christ? With people yelling at Jesus on the Cross to come down from there to prove He was the Christ, Dismas looked with the eyes of faith, saw who Jesus really was, and trusted Jesus and His Divine Mercy, who told him that he would be with Him in paradise.
That is what Father Gordon and his friends have done.
My wife and I went to a nice restaurant the other day for lunch. As I looked at the next table I said to the waitress: "I want what they have." As it relates to Father Gordon and Pornchai, I want what they have.
Any other takers?