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Saturday, September 12, 2015

Saturday, 12 September, 2015

Deuteronomy, Chapter 8, Verse 5-6
5 So you must know in your heart that, even as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD, your God, disciplines you.  6 Therefore, keep the commandments of the LORD, your God, by walking in his ways and fearing him.

When we fear the Lord our contentment does not come from any absence of problems but from knowingly choosing how to respond to them righteously.  God does not want to squash our dreams with His commandments. No he listens and smiles like we do when we see and hear the dreams of a child. Yet, He knows that all dreams must be founded in reality and the truth. When our dreams work against His commandments; our dreams work against us. Every dream must have a foundation of love and in some way must increase the life, liberty or the happiness of others.

Yes, on the Day of Judgment the homes of the poor will be honored more than the great mansions of the rich. Simple obedience to His laws will be more highly praised than the brilliance of all the Kings, Presidents and couriers throughout the world.  Strive therefore for dreams which provide earthly gain without the surrender to sin. No, the only real wealth is a clear conscience; of a life well lived. To live righteously, to love chastely, to learn the truth and to leave a legacy to others is the only true riches.

Jesus experienced the utmost depths of human fear. Yet he found the strength even in that hour to trust the Father. “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you; remove this chalice from me; yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mk. 15:34) Can we at the final hour have the peace of Christ to say, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”. (Lk . 23:46)[1]

Continuing our study of John McCain’s book “Character is Destiny”  John points out that an understanding heart is a generous heart. John portrays for us the life and generosity of Oseola McCarty a poor washer woman who had few possessions, but by the end of her life she was the richest woman in town.

John says of Oseola:

She knew the difference between need and want. For seventy-five years she worked from early in the morning until ten or eleven o’clock at night washing and ironing other people’s clothes. You aren’t paid much for washing clothes. She never bought anything on credit, though. “We loved to work,” Ola later recalled. “My whole family was workers, just like I worked when I was able to. I worked all the time, night and day. Anything I wanted, I’d see it, I’d go at it, and get the money to pay for it. . . . I didn’t owe nobody nothing. Nobody.”  “I try not to spend money I don’t have,” she said, “buying what I can’t afford.” She had everything she needed, and enough money to pay for it. She had enough money to do what she wanted, too. And what she wanted was to help other people. So she gave away most of the money she saved. She knew other people’s dreams were bigger than hers, and if they needed help to make them come true, she wanted to give it to them. She left most of it to the University of Southern Mississippi, in a scholarship trust for deserving students who couldn’t afford a college education. The university was only three miles from her house, but she had never visited the campus. No one there had ever done anything for her. She wasn’t paying anyone back for helping her. She just wanted to help a few kids go to college, and so she did. The scholarship fund came to $150,000. It is an awful lot of money for an old woman who washed and ironed clothes for a living. She built her fortune over seventy-five years, a few dollars at a time. And she just gave it away. “I just want it to go to someone who will appreciate it and learn,” she said. “I’m old and I’m not going to live always.” “I can’t do everything,” she said. “But I can do something to help somebody. And what I can do I will do. I wish I could do more.” The simple decency of Oseola McCarty, the shy, modest washerwoman who had saved a fortune and given it away, struck a deep chord in people. As we hustle along making money, conspicuously consuming, accumulating all sorts of things we don’t need, going into debt, she reminded us that happiness isn’t a commodity with a price tag. Selfishness won’t purchase it no matter how big a house you live in, how nice a car you drive, how many toys you have, how easy your life has been. You have to give something away to be happy. You have to give yourself away. Oseola McCarty lived a simple life. She worked hard for it. And she gave everything she had away. In a sense, she gave all her work, all her life to others. People want to touch that kind of person, see if a little of the happiness can rub off on them. I guess they thought Ola knew something they didn’t or had forgotten some time ago when their work had become nothing more than a means to a lifestyle. A good life, Ola told them, was any life that you could be proud of. “A lot of people talk about self-esteem these days. It seems pretty basic to me. If you want to feel proud of yourself, you’ve got to do things to be proud of. Feelings follow actions.” Oseola McCarty lived a modest life, but she knew a few things, important things, that many people with more advantages never learn. She knew self-respect has a greater value than wealth or fame. She knew hard work is more satisfying than a life of unearned leisure. She knew generosity makes us happier than acquiring possessions we do not need. She knew that feelings follow actions, lived her life accordingly, and died a proud and happy woman.

[1] Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church

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