Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.
Dear friends, this post represents who I am and who I strive to be.
My personal mission statement. As I pass another birthday, I’m of a mind to step away from the media hype machine to reflect a bit on what I’ve learned and how I strive to be.
First of all, I am at peace and grateful to God for His forgiveness which frees me from a far-from-perfect a past that included severe depression and an at-times crippling lack of trust in His mercy. I am also grateful for my wife (appropriately named Grace), family, friends and other kind people I have met who have shown me more love and patience than I deserve. They are true reflections od’s love on Earth. I strive to be like them.
Last year, at Grace’s suggestion, I became involved as a volunteer teacher in our parish’s after-school religious education program. I presided over a fifth-grade class and eventually we came to lesson about the 12 Fruits of the Holy Spirit. As listed by the Catholic Church they are charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control and chastity (which, I think, could also be termed self-respect).
As I prepared for the class, it occurred to me that these actually were the qualities I want to nurture within myself. And, to relate this to the general subject of this blog, these are the qualities I believe the media would serve society well by helping us all to nurture as individuals, as a nation and throughout the world.
So, I began to think about what the spiritual and practical effects of really are of nurturing those qualities — and discovered that they provide both good list of things I have learned and a road map to the kind of person I want to be. I share them with you here because I am a believer in the power of setting positive goals and stating them. I am also hopeful that through God’s grace what I write may actually be helpful to others. Here goes:
A 12-Step Guide to Wholeness (based on the 12 Fruits of the Holy Spirit)
When you nurture Charity…your love for your Creator grows as you realize that loving God requires loving others as you love yourself.
When you nurture Joy…you develop the ability to enjoy each day and to maintain happiness in good times and in tough times. You are grateful for what you have.
When you nurture Peace…you gain freedom from fear and have the assurance that your worth comes from God. It is something that no person – no matter what they say or do — can take from you. You have nothing to prove. You know that you do not have to earn God’s love. It is a gift. You understand that you’re not perfect but that, in His infinite mercy, God forgives all your sins. You, in turn, forgive and do not judge others for theirs. Peace gives you the wisdom to turn the other cheek when insulted and not to be drawn into useless conflict. Peace endows you with the freedom to love, get along with others and see the good in all people – including those who are different in appearance, viewpoint or belief. In Peace, you pray to God with confidence and gratitude that He is listening and will provide for all your needs. Peace enables you to maintain emotional balance and resist unbalanced extremism. In Peace, you learn from past mistakes and move forward from them. In Peace, you plan for the future but you do not worry about it. You live in the precious moment.
When you nurture Patience…you avoid rash actions and do not easily give into anger. You persevere even when it feels like God isn’t answering your prayers, realizing that God’s timing may not be your timing – but it always for your good. You also have Patience for others – including those with handicaps or addictions. And you have Patience for yourself as you learn new things and confront your own struggles and stumbles. You know, through God’s grace, you will emerge from your weakness stronger and more compassionate.
When you nurture Kindness…you “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12).
When you nurture Goodness…you fully develop your talents and abilities, enjoying them as a means to help others and to show gratitude for what God has given you.