By Fr. Eugene Hemrick
Is anxiety filled news shattering your nerves? If so, what is the primary variable causing this?
Let us start with the philosophy “Physician heal thyself first.” We have been blessed with an inner spirit called the center, which is responsible for our physical, mental, and spiritual health. It is the variable needing attention. How do we keep it strong? What is our best offensive?
As wonderful as is round-the-clock news, it is a new kid on the block that has yet to mature even though it is making remarkable progress. Yes, it keeps us up to date on world affairs and is educational, deepening our sense of what is influencing our life. But today’s instant news comes with a price: anxiety, sleeplessness, and depression. It can be a deadly assault on our center, knocking it off balance. Why is this so?
A strong center thrives on faith, hope and especially the love Christ lauds. “Love God above all things and love your neighbor as yourself.” Love is indispensable to our center for coping with disturbing events bombarding our center.
Thanks to St. Thomas Aquinas’s in-depth understanding of love, we learn of its extraordinary coping powers: beneficence, mercy, alms giving, peace, and joy -- powers our center thrives on. They enable us to take life into our own hands and to transport ourselves beyond an often-dismal world into a healthier, stronger spiritual world.
Let us look at how this plays out.
Beneficence is doing good for someone -- to be at his or her side giving them support.
Undoubtedly, all of us have experienced beneficence: “Son, you are doing well, keep it up.” “Go for it, you have the goods.” When we make another feel his or her worth, our center is energized.
The Latin word for mercy is misericordia, meaning “to take heart.” Unfortunately, today’s news is filled with heartlessness that takes the heart out of us. Hate, the antithesis of love, is one of the seven capital sins. It is capital because it is ever so easy to succumb to in a warlike atmosphere that often lacks heart-filled unity.
Interestingly, Aquinas quotes Shakespeare in the Merchant of Venice on mercy’s formidable power.
“The quality of mercy is not strained. Tis mightiest in the mightiest: It becomes the throne monarch better than the crown.”
Shakespeare lauds mercy as an indispensable power reinforcing our center.
Peace, another quality of love, is generated by order -- the very order needed to cope with the disorder that pervades the news. When our life is in order, tranquility follows --- the very tranquility needed to nourish our center.
Love’s quality of alms giving is letting go of our cherished sustenance so another less fortunate person may enjoy it. It is selflessness and compassion par excellence.
Love’s quality of joy can be summed up as practicing mercy, beneficence, alms giving and peace.
How true is loving God above all things and your neighbor as yourself -- the perfect means for countering bad news’s ability to knock us off center.