Sunday, September 2, 2012

Don't Sweat The Small Stuff

To my son Tommy,

We live in a world that is filled with traditions, laws, and ceremonial procedures.

We have the traditions and ceremony of the church.  When we attend mass, we try to get the words right and stand or kneel or sit at the proper time.  No meat on Fridays during Lent.

We have the rules of ettiquette and social graces.  The fork goes on the left and the knife on the right of the plate.  You stand to greet a woman.  You call this person sir, this person doctor, this person mrs, this person miss, this person your honor.

We have the ceremony of common courtesy.  Cover your mouth when you cough.  Sign a birthday card when passed around the office.   Take off your hat as you enter a building.

We have many of these rules that stem from tradition and ceremony.  Though most serve a useful purpose, do not get caught up in the minutia.  Look deeper for the meaning and look within for the true intention.  The important thing is you came to church not that you stood and knelt at the proper time.  If the fork is on the right of the plate with the knife, you can still eat.  If you can't stand to greet a woman, does your "hello" hold any less importance?

At mass today the Gospel of St Mark said
"'Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.' For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: "
You see it doesn't matter if you eat without washing your hands, or if you said the wrong words, it matters what your intentions are and what is in your heart.  Do not be a hypocrite and focus in on the little, search for the big picture. If you act from a position of kindness and love and good intentions, than you will do fine.

I am not saying these rules have no place.  If you can follow them and choose to follow them, by all means do so.  But following a rule or tradition doesn't make you better than the next person.  What makes you a better person is your conscience, your soul, and your ability to recognize the love and good in others, even when they don't follow all the common courtesies that you do.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

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