It’s summer and it’s too darn hot. The only happy people are the tomato warriors who are delighted with God’s little joke because juicy, red Big Boys are in the making. But, perhaps I should keep my comments to myself. From an early age, Catholics are taught that whining about discomfort, inconvenience, pain and suffering is out of the question. Like the saints before us, we are to “offer it up.” The voices of Sister Mary Philomena, Father O’Malley and Grandma Reimenschneider ring in our ears, “Just offer it up for the poor souls in purgatory!” We are to live lives of selfless devotion and quit the griping.
The classic Catholic philosophy is that it is not all about “me.” This way of thinking is not so popular in this narcissistic world. Almost everyone under the age of 65 fervently believes that it is all about the sacred “ME.” We want comfort, happiness, convenience and wealth regardless of how our needs impact the rest of humanity. I don’t think Jesus is very happy about this point of view. He told us to lay down our lives for another, embrace our cross and suffer greater things just as he did for his sake and for the Kingdom. Oh pooh! Just when we were thinking it is heaven all the way to heaven, he asks us to bear up under the weight of the cross (which right now seems to be to bake in the sun like a bunch of hot-cross buns).
This “offer it up” spirituality is not for beginners. The freshman in the pews might want to start out slow: Keep your mouth shut in rush-hour traffic, eat your sister-in-law’s potato salad with a smile and wear earplugs while your husband snores away. Yet, once we get the hang of it, it’s deliciously deceiving. People begin to notice that we’re not so superficial. We’re even pleasant to be around. And, even more amazing, we seem to feel better about life in general.
The idea of getting the focus off my sore toe and on the beautiful sunrise or the needs of an infant in our arms is sweet balm for the soul. This is a grace and a holy accident. I believe that the original intention of “offer it up” was quite different.
“Offering it up” has long been a mystery. Every Catholic kid heard it and had absolutely no idea what it meant. Now we have three options from which to choose. Personally, it’s the third option for me. I am hopelessly in love with that Jesus, so this heat suits me just fine.
Used with permision of The Catholic Telegraph.
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