"Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine
There’s always laughter and good red wine.
At least I’ve always found it so.
I don't want to talk about how our Nobel peace prize-winning leader just got us involved in Syria's war and associated death tolls. As far as I'm concerned, both sides are just as likely to be using chemical warfare and there are far too many self-interests at play for me to even begin considering that this act is done out of good will in order to ensure democracy. Syria may not have WMD's (much like another country we helped liberate), but they have oil...and I feel that oil speaks louder than oppression or human lives.
I especially don't want to talk about Cuomo's idiocy, over-the-counter Plan B carcinogens for kids, Belgium's ideas regarding euthanasia, and countless other "death is the easiest solution" stories that have been popping out in the news lately. It sickens me and makes my blood boil reading some of these stories because it demonstrates how callous and disgusting we have become as a culture and as a world. Forget investing in science to develop treatments and cures to ease suffering or investing in programs to empower pregnant mothers (teenage or otherwise) or families with disabilities, genetic diseases, etc...we have become lazy and callous.We take care of the problem by killing... whether it be euthanasia, abortion, war, etc. To be quite frank, it disgusts me and I don't feel like talking about it.
Instead, I want to give you readers a small taste of what God intended us to feel whenever we get up in the morning. Forget the trashy celebrities we are told to idolize or the awful news we are told to stomach...and embrace life as it was meant to be embraced...with joy. I want to give you some ideas to help you imagine a world that has not been corrupted by sin. I want you to imagine waking up to this world every morning, without the pain of this world weighing you down. I want you to remember that you were born to be happy and that God wants you to be happy. Don't worry, I haven't jumped onto the televangelist bandwagon that tells you that God wants everyone to be millionaires. That's a snake oil version of what God wants for us. No, God wants us to have a much simpler form of happiness that is meant to be but a taste of the happiness we have in store for us in heaven....
There is plenty of joy in the small things and in a world of sorrow, we tend to forget the happiness we can attain by sitting back and enjoying things like Belloc's laughter and good red wine. As much as the world tells us that copious amounts of money, drunkenness, and sex are the ticket to happiness...happiness does not require vices or very much material wealth. Happiness can be attained by appreciating the things that haven't been ruined by us. It can be attained by walking through a forest that hasn't been bull dozed for a shopping mall. It can be attained by playing with your dog instead of ignoring your dog for some game on your iPad...I've seen this in the park before, and it was sad watching the poor doggie attempt to get its owner to play with it. I can say the same for parents I've seen playing with their phones instead of paying attention to their kids.
If you're currently fed up with the world and want to see the sort of good (and Catholic-friendly) times Belloc was talking about, here are a few ideas:
- The first thing I want you to do as soon as you finish reading this post is either watch a movie like Anne of Green Gables or listen to an album like Loreena McKennitt's "The Book of Secrets." Anne of Green Gables, while wholesome, will probably have you doubled over laughing or fawning over good guys like Matthew or Gilbert. For people on a budget, just add a Loreena McKennitt station to Pandora or look up Anne of Green Gables on Youtube for some great clips. Loreena's music will transport you through the ages and to every corner of the known world...as well as a few fantasy realms. Her beautiful voice, clever use of music, and meaningful lyrics are a feast for anyone who feels they haven't heard any good music lately. Any one of these options will bring you back to simpler times when role models were good, intelligent people with a sense of humor instead of the "flavor-of-the-week" celebrity who may or may not be doing drugs and sleeping around depending on the trashy magazine you see by the checkout counter. Speaking of trashy entertainment, I saw a poster on the subway this morning that made me crack up. It was part of an genius ad campaign by New York's public broadcasting station WNET. These posters feature ridiculously awful reality tv show spoofs like Bayou Eskimoes, Knitting Wars, Married to a Mime, etc with this tag line: "The fact you thought this was a real show says a lot about the state of TV. Support quality programming. Join us at thirteen.org." Though some find this ad campaign snobby and infuriating, they have a point. Reality TV is cheap to produce versus shows like Downton Abbey and so the market has been swamped by these shows...the worst of which tend to get way too much attention on magazines, the internet, etc.
- After you've had your fill of great music and good movies, find a book that will inspire you. Allow me to offer you a shortcut by suggesting Padre Pio: The True Story. I believe I read that the author (C. Bernard Ruffin) of this book was Lutheran...but he did a wonderful job of putting this book together. It brings that beloved monk from Pietrelcina, Italy to life with stories of Padre Pio miracles, biographical information, and even some stories from people who were blessed in knowing Padre Pio during his time on earth. He was tough, he was gentle, he knew how to appreciate life, and he took no nonsense. I was inspired by Padre Pio's words to the faithful as well as the example he set with his humble life. As simple as he was and as sick as he could get sometimes, he knew how to make the most of his life and the life he lived was a rich one.
- If books aren't your thing, I have to recommend Verily Magazine. I ended up subscribing after I picked up the teaser issue at the doctor's office and found myself reading articles I actually liked. As soon as I saw a Loreena McKennitt mention in the magazine...I knew it was the magazine for me. The current June/July issue is full of pictures, features, etc. that have me grinning from ear to ear. The swimsuit section almost made me weep tears of joy at the normal bodies they used and the flattering (and not uncomfortably revealing) swimsuits. I can't remember the last time I didn't feel too fat, short, etc. while looking at a magazine's swimsuit spread. No dangerously rail-thin and overly made-up and airbrushed models here...just beautiful women who look like they could be you, your best friend, your coworker, etc...you know...NORMAL women of all body types. The makeup tips were reasonable. The relationship advice was sound. The clothing advertised was, for the most part, affordable and elegant. I especially enjoyed a feature about a woman who works, home school, and is a mother to 9 beautiful children...all at a very young 39 years of age. Imagine that. A happily married woman who can have a career AND a family. Any magazine that features a role model like this one is a great thing in my book. Cosmopolitan can keep its sex tips along with all of the other trashy magazines....I'm sticking with Verily. For the guys out there, I suggest checking out The Art of Manliness which features everything from how a man should dress to how a man should shave...I'm still dying after reading some of the comments on the Learn How to Shave Like Your Grandpa post by Brett McKay. (FYI: Verily has an excellent article by the same Brett McKay on women and men being "just friends.")
- Three words: Blackberry. Cabernet. Sorbet. MY GOODNESS, this stuff is delicious. It is so good that I am beginning to believe that Belloc only mentioned wine in the poem above because there are simply too many syllables in blackberry cabernet sorbet. I'm not a big fan of wine in general, but this sorbet is pretty good. I bought mine, but you can make your own if you are feeling adventurous.
- Love. If you are with someone, love them and tell them you love them. Write to them that you love them. Call them and tell them how they make you feel. Make sure they know that you appreciate them. Make sure they know how irreplaceable they are. Do it with a note, a letter, a hug, a text, whatever it takes...just make sure you let them know. If you are not with anyone right now, no worries. Chances are there is at least one person in your life that you appreciate. Well, do something out of the ordinary and make them feel loved. If you get an urge to buy someone flowers, do it before your rational, boring mind talks you out of it. If you want to take them out for a movie or dinner, do it before you rational, boring mind tells you that you have too much to do. FIND new ways of showing and expressing your love. If, for whatever reason, you are feeling down...APPRECIATE YOURSELF. Take a few moments for yourself and do something that makes you happy.
- Pray. Pray when you are upset. Pray when you are happy. Pray whenever you wish! You can pray the prayers you learned as a child, or you can make up your own. Tell God about every worry you have and take some time to listen. Meditate on His words and try to read some scripture stories that make you feel better. I LOVE the book of Tobit, and some of the psalms are simply too lovely to go unread and unexperienced. God speaks through the Bible, the Church, the Saints, etc. Seek his words and try to find out how they are relevant to your life....then try to apply them in a way that strengthens your hope and deepens your resolve to love and be happy...regardless of the evils that seem to be taking over the world sometimes.
- Speaking of world...I highly suggest checking out Places to See Before You Die. We may be good at tearing apart natural beauties or overlooking the simple beauty that is all around us...but there are still places in this earth that inspire awe, whether or not they are completely natural or some levels of man-made. The beauty of enjoying these images is that you don't necessarily have to travel to these places to enjoy them. If you have a good imagination, you can transport yourself anywhere and simply enjoy yourself for a few split seconds on any given day.
- Then there's Pope Francis...he always seems to say and do wonderful things that, at least for brief moment or two, restores my faith in humanity.
|Check out Saint Peter's List for more images like this one and plenty of awesome stuff to read.|