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Do Not Be Afraid!

In the first edition of "Behind the Desk" Mr. Bitting writes to students at BC about dealing with disorientation.

Mr. Bitting, Religion Department

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Adolescence is a time of orientation and disorientation.  One moment you may feel that you know who you are and where you are going, circumstances are familiar and clear, but the next moment you might be surprised or caught off guard by a new experience which seems to knock you off your rails.  You feel as if you don’t know what tomorrow will bring.  A feeling of disorientation is often accompanied by fear.  And fear, which can be a good thing at the right time, can be a bad thing when it prevents you from living up to the greatness God has called you to. “The most commonly repeated phrase in the whole Bible, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, is “Have no fear!” or “Do not be afraid!”[1]  So if disorientation is something that instigates fear in us, and God tells us to not be afraid, then we should make efforts to avoid disorientation and make efforts to become re-oriented when we become turned around. But how?  I remember an episode of Sesame Street when I was little about a child walking through a city and the child became lost. The child was instructed to recall, (via an omniscient voice) all the places he had passed along the way to get to where he had arrived.  In very trippy, psychedelic, 1970’s fashion the child remembered all the strange places and people he had encountered along the way. He visualized all these things until he arrived back at the beginning. Recalling the starting point was a necessary step for re-orientation.  In addition to recalling the beginning we must have the end or destination in mind in order to have a true sense of direction.

 It’s no secret that I am a bit of a theology nerd, so this summer while most normal people worked jobs and took vacations, I took a theology course called Protology and Eschatology. Protology is the study of God as the creator and origin of all things and Eschatology is the study of the end, or last things; death, judgment, heaven, and hell.  Not only did I get to read some really cool stuff by awesome writers such as Thomas Aquinas, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI, this course gave me a renewed sense of how important it is to ask the questions; Where do we come from? Where are we going?  An awareness of the beginning and end is necessary to appreciate the individual parts and daily events in the middle. 

Think of all the stories you have read. Take Harry Potter for example.  If you are not familiar with the first book or movie, you will not understand book or movie three.  Once you have read the seventh book or watched the last two movies, you can appreciate the events in books two through six much more. Imagine you invite a friend over to watch a movie. Your favorite movie happens to be Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire, because Cedric Diggory was pretty cool until he became a sparkly vampire.  After discovering that your friend has never seen or read any of the Harry Potter books/movies, you watch the movie anyway.  Since your friend has basically zero knowledge of the beginning and end of the story, what will his/her experience of watching this segment of the story be like?  They will most likely be very confused and have many questions.  I have personal experience of this because after falling asleep to my wife reading the first three books to our kids, I finally woke up for the fourth and had no idea what was going on. I asked her many questions and because of her saintly disposition she patiently answered them all.  She did so by going back to the beginning and eventually after seeing the last movies I understood the meaning of the events in the middle books.

We are in a story.  You and I are a characters in a true story, which has a beginning and an end.  The beginning begins with God and His plan to create human beings to share in His perfect life and love.  The end is inaugurated by His second coming, when He will gather to Himself all those who have freely said yes to an eternal love relationship with Him.  You are in the middle. To avoid or overcome disorientation, recall the beginning. You were made by God, to be like God, and to be with God sharing in His love forever.  Look to the end.  Christ is preparing a place in heaven just for you.  He has given you a roadmap on how to get there, summed up in the commandments and beatitudes.  There are only two ways; one of rejection of God’s love which leads to despair, death and eternal disorientation (the people in hell will never reach the destination for which they were made), and one of acceptance of God’s love which leads to fulfillment of desire, life and eternal orientation.  One of the best Scripture passages for re-orienting yourself is found in Deuteronomy, “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live” (Deut 30:19).   

*Footnote refers to article here http://catholic-resources.org/Bible/HaveNoFear.htm 

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Do Not Be Afraid!