Want to live an extraordinary life? Follow the two great commandments: love God, and love your neighbor. However, you first need to get past the roadblocks of anger and stress that knock so many of us off our paths. Thankfully, two authors have written guides to help you do just that. Deacon Greg Kandra recently released The Busy Person's Guide to an Extraordinary Life, and Gary Zimak has penned Let Go of Anger and Stress.
Loving God and our neighbor allows us "to summon the best in us and to fulfill our greatest potential," said Deacon Greg during a Christopher Closeup interview. But what does "love" mean in this context? Gary uses the definition that St. Thomas Aquinas put forth: to love is to will the good of another. Gary continued, "The world will tell us that love is a feeling, but the kind of love that Jesus commands us to perform is not a feeling but a conscious decision. It's an action. I can love somebody even if I don't have good feelings for that person."
In today's world, stress and anger can eclipse the light of God's love. While righteous anger can lead to positive action, the type of anger often exhibited today stems from a darker place that can hinder our closeness to God. Gary explained, "[Jesus] was straightforward. He would tell the truth, but He was filled with joy. As Christians, we've got to exhibit joy or else nobody's going to listen to us."
Christians are evangelizing through their actions, whether they intend to or not. Deacon Greg recalled a pilgrimage to the Holy Land where he met a woman who had recently entered the Church. When he asked what inspired her to convert, she answered, "It was my boss. . . . I saw the way he lived, the way he treated his family, and the way he treated his coworkers. There was a light in him, and I wanted that."
Deacon Greg also witnessed a humbling act of love many years ago that remains with him to this day. On his way home from work, he bought a bag of fresh, warm bagels. Upon entering the subway station to catch his train, he saw a homeless man begging for money. Deacon Greg asked the man if he would like a bagel. The homeless man's face lit up, and he said he'd love one. Soon after, Deacon Greg noticed the beggar walking over to another homeless man, breaking the bagel in half, and giving him the other half. "Wow!" thought the deacon. "I thought I had done something beautiful, but here was this guy who had nothing, giving half of what he had to someone who had even less . . . I saw Jesus there in the breaking of the bagel."
That homeless man exhibited not just a sense of selflessness, but also of peace. And peace is a gift of the Holy Spirit that will help us move beyond anger and stress. Gary explained, "Peace is a sense of serenity that allows us to remain untroubled in the face of unpleasant circumstances . . . It's the ability to sleep in the boat while the storm is raging around us . . . Jesus was able to do that. Why? Because He knew He was in control. If He gives us His spirit through the Holy Spirit, we're able to tap into that peace, that serenity, even though the world might be crumbling, according to the news. We're able to be at peace in duress knowing that He's in control."
This essay is a recent "Light One Candle" column written by Tony
Rossi, Director of Communications, The Christophers; it is one of a
series of weekly columns that deal with a variety of topics and current