Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Editorial: Yes, we can choose – and do

by Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor, Inland Register

(From the Oct. 2, 2003 edition of the Inland Register)

It can be pretty easy to slip through life. We’re all tempted to take the path of least resistance. When asked, “Why did you do that?” we could be tempted to reply, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” For good or ill, as events turned out, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

According to Socrates, the unexamined life is not worth living. That’s a little strong. But I would suggest that all of us have a responsibility – a serious responsibility – to examine our lives, to break down our lives into their various parts and ask ourselves how we’re doing – and what we’re doing, in terms of our relationship with God, with one another, and our use of God’s gifts.

In a broad sense, how we live our lives is a matter of stewardship. Each of us has gifts. From the breath we take without thinking, to the way we speak to the teller at the bank, to the TV shows in which we invest our time. Everything we have, everything we are, is a gift – a gift from God. The value of each of us as a human being, the value of our gifts, isn’t weighted by God. Each of us is precious in God’s sight; each of us is unique; each of us is made in God’s image and likeness. The judgment comes from our choices: How do we use the gifts God has given us?

Whether we know it or not, that’s a decision we make every instant of every day. Some choices are more obvious than others: Do we go out for lunch, or do we write an extra check to an organization in need (and yes, they really are legion)? Do we bunch closer to the other cars on the freeway, lest anyone cut us off and get to the off-ramp before we do, or do we drive with a little compassion, a little forgiveness for the mistakes and misjudgments of others? Do we skip fast food in the car and instead find the time (and, yes, the energy) to fix a simple meal to eat as a family?

Each of us is gifted. Each of us is gifted uniquely. God blesses each and every one of us with various combinations of abilities and weaknesses. It’s how we use those abilities, how we overcome the challenges of our weaknesses, that makes the difference. That difference is made all day long, as we move through the day.

Some choices we make are more important than others. Other choices seem trivial, but have enormous consequences further down the road – the old analogy of a grain of sand making a stopwatch very unhappy.

But the choices are ours, nevertheless.

No one can control every aspect of life. What we can control is our motivation for making our choices. Making conscious efforts to live lives that bring us closer together as a community of faith, closer together as followers of Christ.

God gives us lives filled with choices – choosing life, choosing good, choosing right. Thinking about what we do, why we do it. Thinking about our lives. How we live those lives.

There are so many other voices out there, calling to us. It’s easy to be confused, easy to drift. And we Americans have notoriously short attention spans.

In October, we Catholics celebrate life – October is designated as Respect Life month. We are asked to choose life – to respect human life in all its forms, in all its diversity, in all of its stages. All of its manifestations. That means joy, but it also means pain.

In the Spokane Diocese, Bishop Skylstad is asking all of us to help heal and reconcile the Catholic community and the community at large, as society in general, and the Church in particular, wrestles with the scandal of child sexual abuse. To help address this agonizing situation, he has asked priests and deacons to preach on the subject the weekend of Oct. 4-5 – Respect Life Sunday and its vigil Mass on Saturday. Materials are being distributed to the parishes, helping inform all of us of what has been done, what is being done, what can be done in the future. The bishop asks the entire community of faith to help him bring about a sense of healing, of reconciliation, of hope-filled dedication.

It is a call to choice: that as a people of faith, we choose to continually re-examine ourselves – as individuals, as a Church. It is not a call born of cynicism, or of despair. It is a call infused with hope, and faith, and charity, grounded in a belief in God’s gifts to each of us – as individuals, as Church. It is a call to face with courage a situation that might tempt us to despair.

We all have choices in life. We all have choices of life. We can choose anger and rage and frustration. We can choose education, and cooperation, and dedication. We can reject, or we can overcome.

We can think – and we must. We can examine – and we must. We can choose. And we must. We must choose hope, and healing. We must choose life.

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