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A Treasury of Arkansas Writers Discussing the Catholic Faith
Official Website of the
Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: October 15, 2022
By Judy Hoelzeman
St. Edward Church, Little Rock
When you wake up in the morning, do you say with gusto: “Good morning, God!” Or do you mumble: “Good God, it’s morning.” You had probably seen this before and laughed as I did. It is humorous. But noticing which of these phrases describes your morning can be a good way to change a habit of negativity and see your life more realistically.
The first attitude helps you begin your day with enthusiasm and positive thoughts; the second, with dread. It’s all in the way you look at things.
Dr. Demetrius Dumm, OSB, once gave an example at a retreat. He said, “I have a bad knee that hurts constantly. I can let it irritate me all day, or I can accept that it’s there, but concentrate on my left knee, which works perfectly.”
We need to work at believing how good we are if we believe that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 39:14).
When we think like this, we accept what’s real, but at the same time, we expect the good.
On the other hand, if we begin our day with fear, concentrating on yesterday’s problems and expecting the worst, it’s almost certain we will encounter those very things. I admit that my negative thoughts usually pertain less to things and more to other people. Since we can rarely change people, we might as well accept them, like Fr. Demetrius accepted his bum knee.
How to begin? We need to work at believing how good we are if we believe that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 39:14). If we can realize that our dignity came to us at birth, that we are made in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:27), we can begin to see the abundant good in our lives, in friends, family, even in people who annoy us.
While this will probably be an ongoing task, it does not have to be torture. St. Philip Neri lived in the 16th century. By the time he was 23, he was spending most of his time traveling the city of Rome, making friendly and witty visits to the homes of people of all ranks.
These are his words: “Cheerfulness strengthens the heart and makes us persevere in a good life; wherefore the servant of God ought always to be in good spirits.”
Always be in good spirits? Impossible, but we can keep trying. I was 11 when John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. After Lyndon Johnson had taken the oath of office to become president, he said, “I will do my best; that is all I can do.” I have never forgotten Lyndon Johnson’s words.
We can aim for the cheerfulness that St. Phillip Neri calls us to. We can work on the habit of having our first morning greeting be “Good morning, Lord,” even when we don’t feel it. We can do our best; that is all we can do.
We can also remind ourselves every morning that today may be our last day. The Scriptures below can help us to do our best and to live in the moment.
Matthew 24-36: “But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.”
Mathew 6:34: “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself…”
Psalm 118:24: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it.”
The song below is designed for preschool children as a way to be glad and rejoice. Maybe we’re not too old to use the words to begin our morning cheerfully.
“Good morning, Lord! It’s a beautiful day!
Good morning, Lord! I’m going your way.
Open my eyes, and let me see
Someone who needs a friend like me.
I know that I can surely be
Loving, caring, always sharing.
Good morning, Lord! It’s a beautiful day!
Good morning, Lord! I’m going your way.”
Judy Hoelzeman is a member of St. Edward Church in Little Rock.