Crazy? Angry? You decide and I couldn’t care less!

A Little Movie of Perseverance

I’ve spent the last week watching people spiral even more than before on social media over this virus. Do I blame them? Nope, but the question is, what do we do now?

I can’t really say “Forget about everlasting life” because that should be our ultimate focus, but for now, let’s just stop and think about the next few years as our stepping stone to the ultimate.

If we’re not personally devasted by this virus, I’m sure we have people in our lives who are. Hopes and dreams of financial security have been squashed. Health has been affected. People are scared for their loved ones and themselves, etc., etc., etc. I don’t think I really need to list all the negative effects, so, again, let’s just look forward.

We can be at peace again. A big step to that is reopening of Mass and the Sacraments. The Grace from those can do wonders. Looks like many places are starting to open for them, so “Yay!” Like FDR said, “When you’re at the end of you rope, tie a knot and hold on.” Help is on the way or is already right in front of you. I can’t exactly say I grew up with this example so I’ve always had to fight against my Eeyore nature.

I found a great movie on Amazon Prime called Edie. It wasn’t religious in any way, and there were a few profanities in it so be forewarned, but it was delightful and uplifting, especially in times like these. It made me think of all of us who are going through some setbacks in life. It’s hard for us to see sometimes, but these setbacks are likely not permanent unless it involves death. And, for most of us, they are not going to last forever no matter how unpleasant they are. And, news flash! It’s not even likely the worst thing that will happen to us in our lifetimes. Odds are we can rebuild, even if it’s not the same model we had in mind.

I don’t want to give the whole plot away, but this is what I’ll say. The main character, Edie, had a tough life. While some of us have tough days, months, or years, she had about five decades of setbacks. FIVE. We find her life has now taken a turn and she is faced with a decision: she can keep existing or she can start living. She chooses the latter. Just to clarify, she could have ditched out on her responsibilities and vows, and even though she was tempted to, she did not. She was simply now in a place to continue down the same path or choose a new one. She’s presented with more obstacles along the way, which make her question the new choices. That’s all I’m going to say about it because I hate spoilers. I’m sure her life is a life many have lived.

I loved the message, especially during this day and age, that no matter how long you’ve been set back, you can indeed move forward. This isn’t the victim message we receive in these times. We’re told we just have to crumble until the world is made perfect for us and our every whim is met. Certainly, Edie felt she was a victim of circumstances and duties beyond her control, but when the opportunity came to try for happiness, she took it. She didn’t let the past hold her back.

I look back on life and all the numerous setbacks we’ve had. The fact is, we’ve all had them and we will likely have them again. The usual question we had was “WHY?!” but, honestly, hindsight is 20/20. Some of them were great blessings, even though we didn’t know it at the time. Yes, some were not, and that took a huge exercise of faith and trust, but those exercises were also for our benefit. We could have crumbled in the face of adversities, but we were far better for plodding through something we didn’t think we could and getting to “the other side” of them.

I’m not sure how secular people are going to deal with what they think is the loss of all – all they have, all they worked for, etc., etc., etc. – because there are days when I know Our Lord, Our Lady, and our guardian angel were the only thing that kept us from becoming immobilized with fear, worry, or depression. Honestly, if you’re not one to think about God and you’re going through a particularly tough time right now, maybe now’s the time to give Him a second look? Do you really have anything to lose by it? It’s a Pascal’s wager. If I’m wrong, you haven’t lost anything. If I’m right, look what you’ve gained! And no, belief in God doesn’t mean no hard times. Faith is not magic and this earthly life doesn’t compare to everlasting life with God where there will be no more sorrow.

To the faithful who are spiraling, see it for what it is: the devil is using this to get you. Fight him! Make the choice to use the spiritual tools you have available for just such an emergency and TICK. HIM. OFF! This is something we can get through. For some of us it may be a long road and for some very short. We have no way of predicting that. Give yourself the pep talk you’d give to others. It’s so much easier to tell others to put on their big kids pants and keeps a stiff upper lip, but you can, too. Remember, no matter how much you think the weight of the world is on you, that you might be alone, etc., it’s not true. It’s a lie of the devil because we are the Body of Christ.

When this whole thing started, I warned people that they were likely going to feel oppression – physical, material, and spiritual – like they’ve never felt before. I’m not going to get into my weird biography, but I’ve lived this before in similar ways. Good news? Totally survivable if you make the choice to do it. Bad news? Might not be the worst thing you go through. I also say this with experience. One thing that helped me get some perspective was looking at the examples of others who had it rough and came out on the other side. The more you hear peoples’ life journeys, the more you find personal triumphs over what seem to be insurmountable obstacles, because it’s pretty much impossible to find anyone who hasn’t had a setback in life. Obviously, the Saints are great examples, but sometimes it’s nice to find examples a little closer to home (“saints” with a little “s”). Even though we should be striving to be Saints, you never know what the triumphs are of the people on your own blocks. So try to find the uplifting in the time of downers even if it’s just through a movie. Reach out to people. We’re supposed to be a community of believers. Try and find those who have lived through tragedy and learn from them. I think you’ll find you’re not alone and hope is eternal!

12 thoughts on “A Little Movie of Perseverance”

  1. also, OMM, my daughter & I were talking, just talking about this! How other people’s trauma affects them and how/why they are where they are today. This ol lady just started listening to Lecrae (rap) and hear a message I never would have heard had it not been for my daughter who has come to relate strongly to looking for and responding to others with God’s love. She has squatted down to ask someone laying on the street “I’ll talk to you about my trauma if you tell me your story…” I am amazed.

  2. So faith is just psychological self-motivation. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. If he can’t or won’t help his church and his sheep, then what good is faith in him? Where are the results? Not pie in the sky future promises. Jesus helped people in the here and now. My friends and I have talked about how we don’t miss the Eucharist after being shut out of Mass. Don’t feel any loss by not having been able to receive it for two months and don’t really miss Mass either. No bad effect of missing out on that grace in our lives. Are the sacraments all psychological then? Catholic schools will close, parishes will be understaffed and underfunded, dioceses will be severely constrained. The church will be hamstrung. People who have devoted their lives selflessly to serving Christ and the church are losing their jobs. The truly wicked who have insulted God in everything they have done continue to prosper. Those are actual results. That’s what’s happening now. How is God helping? I don’t see anything coming from him. It’s like this virus is exposing the impotence of the church. And all you can to is tell people, in effect, to keep their chins up with a self-pep talk because the sun will come out tomorrow. Well, gee, thanks Annie.

    1. Larry Northon

      “My friends and I have talked about how we don’t miss the Eucharist after being shut out of Mass.” So let me get this straight. You and your friends have been devoutly practicing Catholics until the past couple of months, and now you’re here talking like an atheist? Surely since you have been such a lifelong Catholic you are aware that you’re asking questions that were asked by the Old Testament prophets and that God’s replies to which are expounded in many passages of the Old Testament. Or are you? If not, you haven’t been listening very well to the mass readings, especially to the Book of Job, Jeremiah, the Psalms, the wisdom literature, etc. I’m not getting you. If your post is a description of your feelings, what exactly kept you going to mass and receiving the Eucharist all this time until just now? I don’t believe a person can flip as quickly and easily as you seem to claim. Explain to me why I should think that you’re for real.

    2. I like to play this game when I see babies trying to guess their age based on what I remember about my own children. It might not work so well here because my kids are apparently, not this myopic. But let’s give it a try.

      Let see:
      Willing to leave a faith you knew nothing about. Really superior psychological babble based on the Psych 10/english 101 class you probably took in the last few years. Still in the “I want to be entertained” and/or “it’s all about what I get out of it” phase. The use of the “my friends and I” group think. “Hamstrung” is throwing me so for that I’m going to give myself a little wider age rang. 20-23?

      Tony, seriously, you might want to read the basic things about the faith like original sin or the umpteen articles on “Why bad things happen to good people” Then, possibly, move onto salvation, the sacraments and all the other things you missed like the saints who actually knew what suffering was vs. having to complete school online BEFORE you move onto the all so kitschy Agnostic Land. God, Mass, the Faith are not about what you get out of it and never have been.

      1. I was going to jump in and defend your essay, but I see you don’t need my help.
        There are a zillion people who think God is a holy gumball machine, and if he doesn’t deliver, well, he doesn’t exist. They are literally angry with God for bad things. Maturity and life will address that, and they will mature and see things as they are or they will die rejecting God and faith.
        The column was very good, and encouraging. Thank you for it.

    3. Tony T, seriously? “So faith is just psychological self-motivation” and “How is God helping? I don’t see anything coming from him”

      All due respect but your lengthy tantrum suggests you are someone unfamiliar with Roman Catholicism.

  3. Excellent, OMM! On the radio, on the news and all around me I see people afraid and uncertain but as a favourite UK blogger of mine, Mundabor, stated recently: “Because we believe that Christ resurrected, we believe in eternal life. Because we believe in eternal life, we put death in a different perspective…Because we have the proper understanding of death, we can also prevent sad events of life from letting us go mad” .

    What that means for each of us is that this is extremely rich soil for us to do “missionary work” and to share the hope we have in us.

    I happen to be the only one amongst my family or friends who practices The Faith anymore. My middle daughter (27) was quite distraught, recently, and commented “we are just bags of meat floating in a cruel universe”. That stunned me and I tired gently to share with her the fantastic treasure I have!

    I pray each day that God will give me the grace to recognize when to intervene and what to say.

  4. As I’ve said before I always enjoy what you write. I’ll do my best to find this movie and give it an evening soon. It sounds like it might go well with a low carb desert and a big Yellow Labrador on the floor in front of the T.V.

    If there’s anything I can ever do for you, from our very far social distancing, you just let me know.

    Fr. John

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