Many years ago -- perhaps 1992 or 1993 -- do you remember the firestorm that caused a terrible conflagration in the Oakland, California hills just across the bay from San Francisco? We were in a business conference meeting on that day. In fact, we were on the east side of the bay although not immediately close to the fire. One of our business associates received an emergency cell phone call and he raced out of our meeting. We didn’t know at that moment what was happening. We found out later that night that his home -- a beautiful home in the hillside overlooking the bay -- his home was totally destroyed as were hundreds of others. Thankfully, his wife got out -- but it was a very... very close call.
Out here in the southwest where it has been a most warm and dry summer -- the continuing fear of many in what is called the Rim Country is that fires will break out. And in fact they have. Close enough to us that I could look across the valley out behind where we live and at one time, I couldn’t even see the other side for the dense smoke and particulate matter in the air. The fires -- and I believe there were two of them just weeks ago -- they were about ten miles from here. One parishioner broke down when I asked about the safety of her family and home. They had been evacuated - many others were as well.
And we lived in Colorado for almost ten years -- and there was always the threat and sometimes the experience of nearby wildfires. So too, in California, even as I prepare these thoughts for a column.
What would you do... what would you take if they came to your street and with loud speakers blaring - they told you you had ten minutes to get out. They were ordering a mandatory evacuation of your area due to fire or some other natural disaster? What would you grab? Other than people saety, what would be your reaction as to the things that are most important to you?
Family albums and pictures? Mementos? Jewels? Checkbooks? I’m looking around our home as I prepare these words wondering what would be my.... or our ‘ten minute plan’ for grabbing things? Maybe in this day and age, I’d try to grab our computers... certainly my new-love: the Macbook we recently purchased.
Well -- to some who read these words, what I’m about to say may sound melodramatic or a little over the top. But the world around us is an inferno of corruption and sin and temptation and magnetic pull to the very things that will land us in a very hot place.
Author Matthew Kelly who wrote the book Rediscovering Catholicism: Journeying Toward Our Spiritual North Star (Beacon Publishing) says that "Your immortal soul is the most valuable possession you have. The saints knew this, and they protected it and nourished it. I hope one day soon, you will realize this too, not in your mind but in your heart. And having come to this realization, I hope you will begin to nourish and nurture your soul. Only then will you truly thrive." And I could change his last word to ‘survive.’
So now that you know my thought path for this reflection -- what would you say your greatest possession is? Your wife (spouse)? She’s not really a possession. Same with your children. God forbid that you had ten minutes of warning before the end... what would your thoughts be about?
How serious is our day-to-day effort to orient our defenses toward protecting our immortal soul? Quite frankly -- once a week for an hour isn’t going to hack it, I don’t think. And we have a lot of one hour Catholics. And many of them have been formed by the world. Many have been born after Vatican II. That’s up to forty years of dancing nuns and banners and liturgical experimentation. There’s sometimes horrible sermons and catechesis even now. It’s scary folks... really scary.
There are many things that put me to thinking about this... a lady whom I have come to be in touch with -- she went through a faith reversion about five years ago. Converts and ‘reverts‘ are so often on fire.... as in good fire. But five years after reversion -- she’s still searching. Still trying to find her path. She is really ‘interested’ in her faith life -- but she still has major questions of the journey.
My dear wife, Dee just showed me something she had signed up for -- a 3 minute daily ‘retreat.’ Three minutes. Now don’t misunderstand -- Dee goes to daily Mass... she prays Evening Prayer (Liturgy of the Hours) with me most every night, etc. But how many of our brothers and sisters aren’t even finding ways to isolate daily time for prayer or liturgy?
I can’t remember what insurance company used to prompt us to do a review of our valuables. It doesn’t matter. What does matter... what is really eternally important is that we have a family meeting or at least a mom and dad meeting. And do an assessment of what’s really important. And if we are sincere about it -- we’ll have to list our eternal souls at the top of the list. And then we ought to be willing to talk about ways to work on protecting this most valuable possession.
Blessings and caring thoughts. I’m in prayer for you.... I promise.
Copyright 2009 Deacon Tom Fox
About the Author
Deacon Tom Fox and his wife Dee are co-hosts of the CATHOLIC VITAMINS Podcast for over 6 1/2 years. Tom has also been a member of the Catholic Mom columnists team for eight years, and was a regular contributor to the Catholic Moments Podcast for three years. Most recently, Deacon Tom has been leading a project to bring Catholic radio to the north central Arizona community where he and Dee reside. Blessings!