Friday, July 1, 2011

Small Decisions, Big Consequences

A few thousand years ago (in Bible years, at least), a husband and wife ate a piece of fruit.  I love the story of the Creation and Fall of Man, not because I'm pleased that we're all in a fallen state, but because it is more chock-full of meaning that much of the rest of the Bible.  I could write pages and pages on it that would either excite you or bore you to tears.  Not the least reason is the astonishing aspect of consequences.  A single act, seemingly insignificant, can have a huge impact.  If you don't believe me, watch this video before reading on.

The decisions we make in daily life have a huge impact - even minor decisions.  In the Bible, Adam and Eve doomed all humanity to a fallen existence in this life.  Ham, the son of Noah, doomed his son and all his descendants to a type of slavery, just by shaming his father (or sleeping with his mother, the exegetical jury is still out on that one).  Abraham, by giving into his wife's wishes for him to have a child by her servant (Abraham may not have had street smarts), fathered a race which rivaled the Israelites through their entire history, even until today.  Mary, by saying a single word, "fiat," became the Mother of God and gave to us a Savior.

I remember vividly the day I went to register for classes my freshman year of high school.  I was taking the normal courses: algrebra, american history, integrated physical science, debate, Japanese.  Japanese?  Really?  Why?  I don't know, I kinda like Japanese art and culture.  I knew a Japanese woman who taught me to count to 10 in the language.

So there I am, reading the course catalog in the car while my mom drives me to the school, and I see something like "Latin I is focused on learning the basic syntax and grammar of the Latin language, as well as Greco-Roman culture, with a heavy emphasis on mythology."  Cool!  I thought.  I always liked mythology.  "I think I'll take Latin," I blurted.  Mom looked at me like I was crazy.  For whatever reason, I stuck to my guns and I felt like it was a really good decision.

What might have happened if I had stuck with Japanese?  Well, I guess I would have taken Japanese and I presume I wouldn't have done as well as I did with Latin (without the mythology to guide me).  I wouldn't have met my high school girlfriend, who had a lot of personal struggles, and would never have developed a sense of empathy or a desire to help others with the gift of counsel.  I probably would've gotten into anime (those were the kinds of kids taking Japanese) and the hyperactive anime culture.  I might even have made some really nerdy friends.  Coupled with my natural emphasis on duty, I might have read up on the Samurai Code and built a philosophical worldview around a sort of far eastern stoicism.  Because I entered the seminary largely in response to both my desire to console others and because I was burned by my relationship with my girlfriend, taking Japanese probably would have led me to go straight into a secular college, rather than the seminary.  However, I do think I probably would have continued to explore apologetics in high school, so I probably would have continued along a general Catholic path, but with eastern stoicism and anime culture attached.  I would likely have continued to take the architecture or physics classes that so strongly attracted me, since I wouldn't have been distracted by my love of Latin, and may have decided to go into an architecture or physics program.  Who knows where I might have gone for college, but since my motivation to find a wife was spurred on my leaving seminary, I suppose I wouldn't have noticed my wife, or even joined the website where we were pen pals before we began dating.  It is highly probable that I would never have married her, and my son and daughter would not now exist.  I would probably not be working for the Church and would not be writing this blog.

Having taken Latin, I did extremely well and discovered a gift for something that won me four gold medals on the National Latin Exams.  I also met my high school girlfriend, who introduced to me a sense of empathy.  As I became interested in apologetics at the same time, I continued to grow in my faith throughout high school.  Latin became a pre-occupation with me.  I was writing full poems according to the classical model in elegiac couplets by the time I graduated, and I lost interest in pursuing physics and architecture, although they intrigue me to this day.  Having broken up with my girlfriend in October of junior year, I decided to enter the seminary and pursued that path in spite of insults and slurs (the sex abuse crisis was announced only a few weeks after I told my family and classmates about the seminary).  I ended up attending the seminary and because they did not offer a Latin class at my level, I delved into Biblical Greek.  Although I ended up leaving the seminary, I began a pen pal relationship with a lovely woman on Phatmass and made a great group of friends at UNL's Newman Center.  Having invested so much time studying theology and ancient languages, I decided to transfer to Franciscan University of Steubenville to pursue theology and also to be with my love interest who was also transferring at the same time.  We dated, I proposed. We graduated and were wed.  We immediately had two children, back to back.  Now we are a happy family in Louisiana.

The decisions we make are much more important than we think at the time we make them.  It is therefore all the more vital to our own well-being that we are at every time seeking to say "Fiat" to God's will.  If we are humble and follow His will, then we will produce consequences which lead to greatness, and hopefully, save the souls of those around us.  If we are proud and follow our own will, then we will produce consequences which lead to mediocrity at best and scandal and sin at worst.

So, Fiat Men, consider the decisions you make.  Ask for God's guidance.  Ask for humility.  I know this is definitely something I need to do!



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