Responding to Valuable Advice
I confess! In my downtime I tend to avoid “educational entertainment.” To the chagrin of my husband and my middle daughter, that means history channels and the like aren’t on my “favorites” list. I reason that since I don’t devote a significant amount of time to watching TV, when I do, I don’t want to learn a darn thing! I’m content to watch mindless entertainment.
This philosophy has seeped into the recreational print media I read. I turn directly to the lifestyle section of the daily paper and read the advice columns before anything else: “Dear Abby,” “Ask Amy,” “Carolyn Hax,” and—my favorite due to the absurdity of her consistent reference to herself in the third person—“Miss Manners.” The truth is, I do learn from such columns once in a while.
For instance, there was the distraught wife who complained her in-laws expected too much quality family time and that the visits were unpleasant. First, I learned I can’t relate to that wife’s woes. My in-laws are among my greatest blessings. I love spending time with them. They’re wise, faith-filled, loving, sincere, adventurous, and inconceivably savvy with technology (compared to my husband). I could rave on, but I digress.
The big thing I learned: The columnist said the wife couldn’t change decades-old expectations. Ultimately, she replied, “There’s only reality and your response to that reality. That’s what any relationship is. That’s what life is.” I found her answer extremely enlightening. I’m sure other aphorisms that similarly relate this underlying message came to mind for some readers, but either I’d never heard them or never paid attention. Imagine the result: the potential for embracing and—most importantly—acting on her advice. We can choose to leave some realities alone. And then there are the ones we can try to change.
Problematic realities that we Catholics should respond to abound. One is the increase in people who have fallen away from the faith. Gallup surveys conducted over twenty years and published by Crux in April show Church membership among Catholics fell from 76 percent to 63 percent, and the number of US adults with no religious affiliation increased from 8 to 19 percent. The question is, how should we respond? Perhaps without judgment, with sincere interest in understanding why people left the Church, and with the love Jesus Christ has freely given to us. That’s a good start.