Saturday, February 18, 2017


A Life-Long Problem For So Many People

It's irrational most of the time, but for some people the fear of rejection is a painful reality. I, too, struggled with it most of my life, especially during my early years and into my 20s. 

One example came to mind when I was writing this post. As a minor seminarian, I was a ninety-pound weakling and we were "required" to play sports. I was not bad at handball and tennis, but for me, team sports were always a source of regular humiliation. I can still remember sitting on the bench as players were selected from the best to the worst. It seems that I was always sitting there till they got to the part where they decided who "had to take" the rest of us. 

Those of us who have struggled with and overcome the fear of rejection, know that, like an addiction, there will always be a residue. I believe that most of us never really "got over it," we are just "in recovery" the rest of our lives.

The secret for overcoming the fear of rejection is not to run from the possibility, but to embrace situations where it is a possibility, but not necessarily an eventuality. It's like the fear of public speaking. The path to getting over the fear of public speaking is to do public speaking until the fear subsides.  The path to getting over the fear of rejection is to stick your neck out and find out that it does not always happen. In fact, the probability of the opposite happening is more probable. Like the bashful young teenager who is so afraid of rejection that he never asks a girl out, the only way to get a "yes" is for him to stand up to his fear and ask anyway. He may be rejected, yes, but again, he may not! He won't know for sure till he takes the risk. Nothing is going to happen, for sure, without taking a risk.

The biggest growth steps in my life have occurred when I decided that I was going to stick my neck out and not be held back my someone else's opinion of what I could do or not do. I have been amazed at how much I have been able to do when their opinions are stood up to. It often occurs to me just how much I may have missed when I didn't do that in the past.

In my work down in the islands, I often stop to imagine what other people will think if I think too big.
I know that when I do, I have to stop and tell myself to go ahead and stick my neck out and see what happens. Often, I am shocked by just how many nice people say "Yes, I'll help."

Thursday, February 16, 2017


      Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
      and remember what peace there may be in silence.
      As far as possible without surrender
      be on good terms with all persons.
      Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
      and listen to others,
      even the dull and the ignorant;
      they too have their story.
      Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
      they are vexations to the spirit.
      If you compare yourself with others,
      you may become vain and bitter;
      for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
      Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
      Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
      it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
      Exercise caution in your business affairs;
      for the world is full of trickery.
      But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
      many persons strive for high ideals;
      and everywhere life is full of heroism.
      Be yourself.
      Especially, do not feign affection.
      Neither be cynical about love;
      for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
      it is as perennial as the grass.
      Take kindly the counsel of the years,
      gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
      Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
      But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
      Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
      Beyond a wholesome discipline,
      be gentle with yourself.
      You are a child of the universe,
      no less than the trees and the stars;
      you have a right to be here.
      And whether or not it is clear to you,
      no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
      Therefore be at peace with God,
      whatever you conceive Him to be,
      and whatever your labors and aspirations,
      in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
      With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
      it is still a beautiful world.
      Be cheerful.
      Strive to be happy.

      Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

    Sunday, February 12, 2017


                                                                               February 12, 2017

    Before man are life and death, good and evil,
    whichever he chooses shall be given him.
    SIRACH 15:15-20

    Trash TV is forever giving some of the weakest people in our culture a place to show off their ignorance. I must confess that I get sucked into watching it sometimes – usually with a jaw dropped in amazement. Just when you think you’ve heard and seen it all, the ante is usually upped in one form or another.

    One of the themes that get regular coverage is our inability to say “no.” Pathetic examples of humanity tell the audience in a million different ways that if the temptation is there, one must act on it because one is totally powerless to do otherwise.  Likewise, if the opportunity arises to commit adultery, defraud the government or take something from work, we are told that a person would be foolish to pass it up.

    A person of integrity knows right from wrong and has the strength of character to choose what is right  - even when no one is looking and even when it is possible to choose what is wrong and get away with it.  The opposite of a person with integrity is a small, self-centered person, always on the make for personal gain or pleasure, regardless of how it affects those around him. 

    If you are interested in bucking this trend and becoming a person of integrity, let me share a few thoughts with you from a favorite book called, Virtuous Leadership: An Agenda for Personal Excellence.

    The ability to say “no” to opportunistic situations is one of the most basic abilities of a person of integrity. A person of integrity declares his independence from the terminal egoism of popular culture. He responds to life from well-defined principles, not the basest of addictions. He is guided by a set of outside principles, not by moment-to-moment, internal chaotic impulses.  

    A person of integrity also says “no” to the cynicism that says that the end justifies the means. When we buy into this perspective of “the end justifying the means,” we are willing to use deception, manipulation and even death to accomplish our so-called “good” goals. Consider Lenin, Hitler, and Mao who killed millions of innocent people in the name of an ideology that promised a better way of life for the masses and then consider much of the pro-abortion and assisted suicide rhetoric. They all buy into the principle that "the end justifies the means" - that one can accomplish some favorable outcomes by using evil methods to attain them.  These “solutions” are presented to us as "perfectly reasonable” and “economically sound.”  Killing off people in nursing homes would indeed save us a whole lot of health care money, but does the lofty goal of saving money justify the mass killing of old people? Not yet, at least!

    A person of integrity also says “no” to glorified materialism – that driving passion to “own,” “possess” and “have” at any cost, even at the expense of other individuals and the community as a whole. Our system of capitalism is a good thing (I am all for it), but surely even it has its limitations. Slavery might keep down labor costs, but that alone does not make it good. A materialism that sees other persons simply as cogs in a machine, devoid of spirituality and transcendent value, ceases to be a good thing. 

    A person of integrity also says “no” to radical individualism. Radical individualists focus on serving themselves, always taking and never giving back. We are social beings by nature. We are interdependent.  We are keepers of our brothers and sisters. We were created to live in communities and therefore we never free to do whatever we want in an absolute sense. Those who are wealthy and wise know that "to whom much is given, much is expected." 

    A person of integrity also says “no” to “group-think” and to what “everybody else is doing.” Be your own person and respect what is unique in your own self. People unable to love and respect themselves, are unable to love and respect others. Unable to love and respect others, they cannot sustain life within their families and, in fact, find family life and communal responsibilities stultifying.            

    My fellow believers! We have a lot of choices in front of us each day. Just because we have the freedom to choose, does not mean that we will always choose wisely. A lot of the choices we make are evil, not because we are basically evil, but because those choices are presented to us in shiny new packages that try to convince us that they are good when they are not! As a result of a dramatic expansion of personal freedoms, we are now seeing more and more people being forced to live with the consequences of their bad choices. 

    Yes, we have the right to choose, but with that right, we also have the responsibility to choose wisely! Only a person of great integrity can balance the freedom of choosing with that responsibility of choosing wisely! Everyone else goes the way of the worst of  opportunists, grabbing, hording and defending no matter the cost to those around them.

    My friends, if being a person of integrity and principle sounds terribly counter-cultural, it is! Be counter-cultural! Choose to be a person of integrity and principle, no matter how few follow your lead! Be discerning! Look below the surface of things! Don't be fooled and manipulated by popular culture! Choose, yes, but choose wisely! 

    "Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought".
    Pope Saint John Paul II