Here’s a passage from the writing of a religious that I found much to my liking: “St. Ignatius says that the greater part of the daily examen is to be used in thanksgiving: Thanking God for every blessing increases our capacity for gratitude and our ability to see Him in everything and to be attentive to His inspirations, in order to follow them promptly. I have started writing down the daily blessings that have come my way, and it has become one of the most looked-forward-to events of my day. I now actually like writing them all down. My problem is remembering them all, because there are so many!”
It makes much more sense to me that St. Ignatius would want one to examine his conscience twice a day when I realize the focus of the exam is not on my wrong-doing, though that is part of it, but rather the focus is on how God has blessed me in this day.
Not that this ranks up there with St. Ignatius, but this idea for the examination reminded me of a song that Perry Como sang. Here’s the words, but it would be much better if you googled and listened:
You gotta accentuate the positive,
Eliminate the negative,
Latch on to the affirmative,
And don’t mess with Mr. In-between.
Spread joy to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum,
And have faith (Amen!)
Or pandemonium’s liable
To walk upon the scene.
To illustrate this last remark,
Jonah in the whale and Noah in the Ark.
And what did they do when everything
Looked so dark?
Every day has its aggravations. And for some reason it is easy to latch on to those and accentuate those and be a grumbler. But we’re nowhere near being a year in an ark tending to a lot of animals when you’d think at 600 years of age, we’d be in a pleasant retirement community, maybe playing croquet. But at least Noah was on top of the water. Now Jonah, he was submerged under the water inside a big fish, and he was thanking God that he was there – seeing the fish as a blessing. Probably none of our problems can compare to being in the belly of a sea creature with the future uncertain.
But then the fish spews you out onto the shore of a hated land, in an enormous city where you have to preach gloom up to the maximum for a while, and urge penance from a depraved people. And all the while you are hoping that they don’t repent because you don’t like these people. And then they repent and are spared, and your gourd tree dies. And then you start to complain. Accentuating the positive gave way to a pandemonium within the soul. The world outside the fish seems darker than the world inside the fish.
Teaching really does give a thousand good things to accentuate each day and a handful of things to be negative about. But it is easy to accentuate those negatives instead of working to eliminate them. Counting one’s blessing is the key. And maybe singing the refrain from the Perry Como song now and then.
The alumni and current students of Seton are a great blessing. And the blessing is multiplied when a Seton student is a son or daughter of an alumnus or alumni.
God bless you all!