Branching-Out

Control

Posted by Sharon Krause on Oct 25, 2021 6:00:00 AM

When I was in grammar school, much of my free time was spent with my girlfriend Betty Jane. She and I would divide up my small wooden blocks, my black-and-white dominoes, and my plastic dollhouse furniture and dolls so that we could creatively design houses for the doll families. After the houses were carefully built, we would make up adventures for the doll families, with Betty and I providing the doll voices and commentary. You could say we strayed from the ordinary dollhouse play because we put our sometimes silly and always enjoyable spins on the exercise. Betty and I had complete control of the outcomes for the doll families. Other than the occasional mishap with domino walls toppling, we orchestrated every aspect of our play-date episodes.

In real life, control is always an issue. Especially today, we hear controversies spurred by such words as “mandates,” “restrictions,” “requirements,” “regulations,” and “orders.” There are controls on things we eat, use, view, and administer. Certainly in any society, rules and laws are necessary to protect everyone’s health and safety. Invariably, certain people will challenge these controls either for self-interest or, perhaps, out of well-meant concerns.

In our personal lives, health issues can limit our control. For example, we may not feel so free if diabetes treatment affects our diet. My arthritic knees challenge my control of certain exercises and other physical activities.

And let’s not forget who wants control of our spiritual lives. Satan is very sneaky and tries to disturb our peace and obstruct our journey to holiness. It is not unheard of for us to become a bit content and lackadaisical when life goes on routinely. We can get a bit “spoiled” when things are going our way. We might become complacent and overly lenient with ourselves.

Like a city breached, without walls, is one who lacks self-control. (Proverbs 25:28)

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Topics: Sharon Krause, say yes to God's will, self control

The Everyday Gospel: Keeping Clean

Posted by Charles Paolino on Aug 25, 2021 6:00:00 PM

In the 1997 movie As Good As It Gets, Jack Nicholson plays Marvin Udall, author of more than sixty romance novels. Udall lives alone in an upscale New York City apartment where he writes love stories.

He also washes his hands again and again during the day, each time peeling the shrink wrap off of one bar of antiseptic soap after another, passing each one across his hand only once and then throwing it out, because it has been contaminated. And he rinses his hands in water that is as hot as he can stand.

When he ventures outside of his apartment onto the busy Manhattan streets, he uses all kinds of maneuvers to make sure that he doesn’t come in contact with the other pedestrians.

So, from that point of view, Marvin Udall is clean, but there are other aspects to his personality. He is not interested in anything or anyone that does not serve his needs. He is rude. He is insulting. He is openly abusive of people he doesn’t approve of, such as homosexuals and Jews.

If Jesus had known about Marvin Udall—clean on the outside, on the inside not so much—he might have used him as the subject of a parable to answer the critics we read about in the synoptic gospels­—asking why Jesus’ disciples or, according to Luke, Jesus himself did not follow the Jewish practice of washing their hands before eating.

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Topics: RENEW International, The Everyday Gospel: Deacon Charles Paolino, interior life, say yes to God's will

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