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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Life is a Challenge

Life is a challenge. Anyone who's lived beyond the age of reason knows it, even those too young to explain it. The Church certainly affirms it, calling life here on earth a "vale of tears." Psalm 23 recognizes "green pastures" but also acknowledges the evil we experience as we "walk through the valley of the shadow of death."

I've been reflecting on the different ways a person can look at life.

  • There's the ultimate pessimist who says, "Life's a bitch and then you die." They seem to ignore every bit of joy and beauty around them and live in perpetual misery. I know a handful of people with that outlook. What a sad state!
  • Then there's the "life is a soap opera" mode which has the ring of truth. Webster describes soap operas as  "chiefly characterized by tangled interpersonal situations and melodramatic or sentimental treatment." One of the reasons I think soap operas appeal to people is because we all experience those "tangled relationships." Melodrama invades everyone's life even if we wouldn't guess it. When we lived in Alexandria, an elderly episcopal minister and his wife were neighbors. They seemed to have the perfect quiet, stable life. One day he shared with me about his grandson's suicide. Yes, even the most quiet-looking life is filled with "tangled" situations.
  • Many people choose to see "life as a party" where everyone sets his own rules for fun and feast. That's particularly true today. It's the "eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you die" attitude. Have fun, experience every drug, every pleasure no matter how perverse. It's Pinocchio on an X-rated Pleasure Island turning into an ignorant beast as he uses and abuses both things and people to get another high! The crash inevitably comes for all these deluded souls.
  • Literature often depicts life as a journey. A major theme is "the hero's journey." The Lord of the Rings trilogy is a classic example. What would your own life look like as a journey? As I walk through my past in my mind, I remember mountain top experiences and times that feel like being abandoned in an underground cave. If you've ever toured a cavern and they turned the lights out you know what "cave dark" is. Is life a random journey with light and dark moments? Or does it have a destination? I like to think of the early Christians lighting torches and candles to turn the catacombs into a cathedral with flickering and mysterious light for their Masses. Even life's moments of "cave dark" can have "light" moments. Many converts I know describe their coming to the Catholic Church as a "journey." Each story is unique and exciting to hear. Aqua's conversion story touched many people on this blog. I'm thinking of re-reading Hilaire Belloc's Path to Rome. It's a travelogue of his walk from Toul in northwestern France to Rome, over 550 miles, but the title could equally be used to describe a conversion. What was Chesterton's "path to Rome?" What was Peter Kreeft's? If you're a convert, what was yours?
I could go on, but I think I'll add just one more.
  • Life is an adventure, a challenging one for sure, but one that can be a pilgrimage of faith rather than a trip with random stops along the way. Chesterton's quote fits here 

    “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.” How does our attitude about life change if we embrace Chesterton's view?

Which approach to life do you live by? Life's a bitch? Life's a soap opera? Life's a never-ending, mind-killing, beast-making party of self-indulgence? Life's a random journey? Or life is a pilgrimage journey with the goal of never-ending bliss at the journey's end? It really is our choice to determine how we look at life. It's our choice, using our intellect and free will, to choose life or choose death as the Bible says. As for me, I choose life with paradise at the end. 

May Jesus Christ be praised, now and forever!


  1. '"In this world we are all in a valley of tears. Our consolation is not here. We shall have it eternally in Paradise, if we suffer tribulations on earth." St Benedict Joseph Labre

    I think the mind goes through various stages of development in their relation to their existence, the same with the soul. The healthiest of each mature and come to fruition. We must come to know the vine we are grafted into and that there is a vine dresser.

  2. I choose my life is for God and will echo into eternity. When you know you are loved and chosen by Him (as we all are) it gives the Cross purpose and the joys deeper meaning. Everything is valuable.