Monday, December 24, 2012

The Three Types of Givers

Today is Christmas Eve; it is the beginning of the Christmas season (at least liturgically speaking, in the evening). In our more secular culture, today caps off the "season of giving" that precedes Christmas.
Much has been said (much more eloquently than I could put it) by wiser men about the religious aspects of Jesus coming to earth in the form of a child. 
The end of the "season of giving" behooves us to take a look at what exactly constitutes giving, who gives to others, and how these men and women give to others.
There are three types of givers in this world: humanitarians, philanthropists, and “givers.” All of these people give of themselves to others in some fashion.
The first type of giver is the humanitarian – one who dedicates his time and energy to help those in need. The humanitarian is the missionary, the doctor, the activist. He feeds, clothes, shelters, and clothes others directly,  devoting himself directly to helping his fellow man.  
The second type of giver is the philanthropist – an individual who gives thousands or even millions of dollars to people in need of assistance or charities which distribute this largess. He is usually too engaged in business affairs to help the poor through direct action, so he gives money in lieu of time.
Both of these callings are noble indeed, and those who engage in them should be encouraged to continue in their spirit of sacrifice. The world needs men who devote their lives to giving themselves to others. 
But there are dangers in both of these callings. There is always the danger to seeking too much praise in these professions (especially philanthropy). More subtle is the danger of entrenchment – of thinking that one’s duty to the suffering ends with time or money. Total self-gift is the true path to Christianity – and the danger of careerism in humanitarianism or narcissism in philanthropy that poisons both these professions is strong.
Few of us have the drive to be humanitarians or the money to be philanthropists. Most of us have lives and families that we must devote ourselves to; we are too poor to be philanthropists and too busy to be humanitarians.
But all of us can be "givers." Givers lives their daily lives in service to those around them. A giver gives generously of his time to those in need; he sets aside what money or food he can spare to those in need. At the same time, he serves his family and his friends to the best of his ability. A giver serves all men he meets in a manner that allows him to help all in some way; prudence and generosity are his hallmarks.
He still goes about his daily business; he wins not the plaudits of the media or awards for his generosity. His mission is silent, but no less necessary than that of the humanitarian or philanthropist.
The call to be a giver is the mission of most of the Christian laity. We Christians must be in the world but not of the world; we must be servants to all. It is especially appropriate that during this Christmas season, when Christ gave Himself the ultimate gift to humanity, we should be called to emulate His total self-gift, by serving others in whatever way we can.  
Merry Christmas, readers!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Saying Goodbye...

The Mayans were right about the end of the world - at least concerning my career.
I left my job on Friday. I've been working for more than a year and a half at my first "real" job, and it felt very odd to leave. It was very exciting walking in the door the first time. Then the rhythm of the daily grind set in, and it became second nature to pop in and out of the office.
And now, after twenty months, it finally came time to depart. The act of leaving itself was surprisingly simple; I cleaned out my cubicle and took a quick tour of the office to say goodbye to some close friends, and then... left without looking back. Maybe the realization will hit me later that I am gone for good. It hasn't yet.
But leaving will hurt in more personal ways. Saying goodbye to my coworkers, whom I've spent a long time in the trenches with, was very difficult, mostly because I couldn't adequately express to them how thankful I was for their presence and their support. Good men and women are pleasant to be around, and I had many pleasant conversations with my coworkers. I'm not the easiest man to get along with, and they bore my quirks with grace and good humor.
But now, the bond of kinship wrought by close proximity is to be tested. I have found that farewells are strangely permanent events. Everyone promises to stay in touch and visit, and maybe in a few cases, this actually happens. But what usually happens is that people drift away, and friendships are sundered by separation. Yes, Facebook, e-mail, cell phones, (and now Twitter) creates the illusion of connectedness. But aside from a few stray "likes" and the occasional e-mail, the wall of coldness wrought by separation is erected. Former friends become strangers.
I know that people move on with their lives to bigger and better things. I know that others must increase, while I must decrease. And God knows that I am a master of burning bridges. But friendships are meant to endure. If any of my friends at the office read this - here's hoping this goodbye marks merely a change in proximity.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Look at the Military Profession

The very profession of soldier is an interesting paradox. Soldiers are warriors called upon to fight and even kill for their countries if necessary. However, they are defenders of their homeland, called upon to keep peace. 
Christianity is largely composed of paradoxes; the Christian attitude towards the military profession is no exception to this rule. Christianity seeks peace, but praises those who are called to protect their homeland.
The Bible speaks favorably of soldiers and uses military metaphors frequently. Christ praised the Roman centurion for his faith. St. Paul spoke of putting on the “armor of God” to withstand the assaults of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11). The Church accordingly praises worthy Christian men at arms; Christian soldiers such as St. George and St. Martin of Tours have been canonized. In the medieval era, the Church praised holy wars and crusades in defense of Christendom.
But the Bible also demands peace; Christ Himself is the Prince of Peace, who exhorted His apostles to put up their swords when He was taken in the Garden of Gethsemane. During the medieval era, the Church instituted the Truce of God to prevent Christian knights from killing one another. Pope Benedict XV became famous for his efforts to encourage peace during World War I.
The profession of soldier is an honorable profession. Men were created by God with the charge to cherish and protect what they love. The military is the perfect profession for the fulfillment of this desire; men, through soldierhood, are given the opportunity and blessing to serve a cause higher than themselves.
In America, many fall into two harmful extremes when it comes to the military profession. The first is to treat all soldiers as heroes, to view all soldiers as selfless protectors of the free world who continuously put themselves in harm’s way for the good of the world and for humanity. The second is to see soldiers as deluded fools or monsters who willingly place themselves in the service of an American empire which rains down oppression on humanity. Both of these extremes are wrong.
The idea that American soldiers are stormtroopers in the service of an evil empire is lunacy. America, for all its failings, still (generally) shows much more moral sense than the rest of the world. American soldiers, as a whole, are masters of their field and consummate professionals. American soldiers are trained incredibly well, and tasked with extremely delicate situations which they perform to the best of their ability.
However, hero-worship of soldiers is ingrained the American psyche. The idea that “every soldier is a hero” is false - members of the military are not infallible. Some individuals use the service as an opportunity to engage in cruelty or violence. War crimes are not mere chimeras, and must not be swept under the rug.
Men and women in uniform should not be deified solely on account of their profession. Nor should they be condemned as villains for the stupidity of their commanding officers. Soldiers are engaged in a noble profession – and should be treated accordingly. But when they fail, they must be treated as other fallen men.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Misnomer of Political "Conversation"

Faithful readers of this blog have noticed that I’ve gone on a truth binge when it comes to linguistics. This emphasis on linguistic truth is partially based upon my obsessive love of honesty, to the detriment of other virtues. 
But this emphasis on truth is also because words have meanings. When words are misused (deliberately or otherwise), confusion reigns. A society where even language becomes a source of confusion is a polarized society, where partisans can scream the same words at each other but mean completely different things.
Thus, when the term “conversation” gets tossed around when talking about certain political issues (gun control comes to mind), I get incredibly annoyed. Political operatives don’t want “conversation” when dealing with political topics. They want their own position made into law. When a politician or activist demands “conversation” about a subject, what he really means is that he wants the position he supports made official public policy.
Now, open advocacy of a position is more than acceptable – everyone has opinions, and everyone has the right to argue those opinions. But calling such advocacy "conversation" is ridiculous.
For “conversation” in this day and age far too often is the equivalent of a monologue or a shouting match. Both sides of certain issues remain locked in their respective bunkers and scream at one another from the safety of their ideological foxholes. 
On other issues, one side has all the microphones, and shouts talking points at their foes until the political enemy is cowed into submission. 
Either way, "conversation" is increasingly a misnomer, when it comes to political speech.

Ecumenical Christmas Carols: A Puritanical Christmas!

In the spirit of Christmas and Christian ecumenism, I present this glorious Christmas carol, suited for orthodox Puritans circa 17th century! It should be sung to the tune of Deck the Halls.

A Puritanical Christmas

Deck the halls with monochrome stuff!
Fa la la la la, la la la la!
'Tis the season to be quite gruff!
Fa la la la la, la la la la!
Don we now our gray apparel!
Fa la la, la la la, la la la!
Burn the fool singing the carol!
Fa la la la la, la la la la! 

See the blazing fool before us!
Fa la la la la, la la la la!
He tried to be merry on Christmas!
Fa la la la la, la la la la!
Follow me, now, without pleasure!
Fa la la, la la la, la la la!
Christmas is for heaping treasure!
Fa la la la la, la la la la!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Predictable Aftermath of Tragedy

Another tragedy took place yesterday. The recent shooting in an element Connecticut, where over 20 children were killed by a gunman, has once again brought America sorrow - at least, for a short time.
For the aftermaths of tragedy follow a depressingly predictable pattern. Our chattering classes will talk about the need for gun control and mental health and the need to come together and other tragedy-related policies for a few days. After a period of about 3 days to one week, the same chattering classes will go back to ranting about important things such as the doings of celebrities and the gaffes of politicians. Nothing will change.
I don’t mean to be cynical – but the painful, honest truth is often brutal to hear. And the truth is that the world is awash in death which very few care about or do anything to stop. 4,000 unborn children a day are killed by abortion; there is little to no mourning for them. Children starve in Africa every day; nothing tangible is done. In a culture of death, a few more deaths should not surprise us.
Mass shootings are awful. They are, unfortunately, largely unavoidable in a society where guns are readily available to deranged people who can enter “gun-free zones” at will and fire away. And they are predictable in a society which glorifies violence in fiction and encourages it against our most vulnerable populations.  

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Danger of Balancing Acts

I just finished my final exam and am finished with graduate school for the Fall 2012 semester! Deo Gratias!
Now I can concentrate on my writing for my employer - until I leave that job next week. The whirlwind continues, with insane amounts of travel during the holiday season.
And then the tornado of activity slows to a crawl - in January, I will be able to study full time for one whole semester, without distraction. And I am very, very glad for this opportunity to focus on my studies.
This may sound like a venting post - and it is one. I don't like being stretched in all directions like Gumby by my worldly cares. No one does. Though it may be necessary, trying to serve two masters is never easy, and always spiritually dangerous. To be a true Christian, one must be willing to give his all in all things - and multitasking hinders one's ability to do so by encouraging distraction.
This past year and a half has taught me the spiritual perils of multitasking, even for good and noble purposes. I could not complete my job and my studies to the best of my ability, to my everlasting shame. Both goods that I pursued conflicted with one another, distracting me from full devotion to my assigned tasks.
Distraction is a constant danger in the spiritual life. There are the constant temptations to distraction during prayer, which are unavoidable. But we tend to surround ourselves with distractions - TV, video games, Internet, technology. We try to have it all and do it all - and we bury ourselves under a web of cares.
As Christians, we should attempt to eliminate distractions from our lives to the best of our ability, including good things. Spiritual distractions should especially be avoided.
The appeal of the contemplative and religious life for one seeking to love God better is obvious. Such a life is comparatively free from the distractions of day-to-day living. As St. Paul eloquently stated in First Corinthians: "The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his thoughts are divided." (1 Cor 7:32-33)
It has proven very difficult for me to serve two masters on earth. How much more difficult for the Catholic to attend to earthly and spiritual cares simultaneously!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Want to Stop Racism? Stop Talking about Race!

This minute and thirty seconds of complete foolishness about the supposed "blackness" of popular rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III is going viral. Apparently, having a white fiancee and possibly voting Republican is enough to call into question one's "blackness."

The "analyst" is being flayed alive for his insane commentary, and rightfully so.
Here's the really irritating part about his thinking. The Civil Rights Era was successful - legal barriers based on race have been eradicated from our society. And that is as it should be. Any form of racism deserves an ugly and ignominious death.
The problem is that Mr. Parker's excessive fixation on race perpetuates racism! Constantly showering an evil such as racism with attention is the surest way to prolong that evil.
In a truly post-racial world, skin color doesn't matter. But by questioning a person whether a person is "one of us" based on one's choice of fiancee and voting habits, Mr. Parker chose to segregate "black people" from "white people" - and then set up an insane value judgment about how "black people" should adopt some secret code of blackness.
Memo to Mr. Parker: I DON'T CARE about your skin color. If you're black, wonderful! It doesn't matter to me. If you're white, that's great! I won't notice. (If you're spray-painted purple, seek help immediately.)
If Mr. Parker truly wants to stop racism, he should condemn it, and then STOP TALKING ABOUT IT! But if he wants to perpetuate the idiocy of racial thinking, he and his followers should keep spouting idiotic quotes like this one.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Shut Up and Be Open-Minded?

I had a high school history teacher whom I rather strongly disagreed with on political matters. I learned much from his class about American history, learning to keep my mouth shut, and tuning out toxic ideology.
The clearest memory I take from his class is exactly 5 words: “Shut up and be open-minded.” 
I think of him whenever I am exhorted to be “open-minded” by someone who disagrees with me. For his words would be echoed by many that I know in the journalistic and academic world.
When most people ask me to be open-minded, what they are really asking is that I listen to what they have to say. They want open-mindedness – to their views.
Now, asking me to listen is a perfectly reasonable request. But those who demand open-mindedness are often unwilling to listen to what I or others have to say. Many are quick to accuse others of close-mindedness, but slow to open their minds to others. (In fairness, I often exhibit the same intellectual dichotomy.)
True open-mindedness implies a willing to listen to ALL sides of a story, to ALL sides of an argument – no matter how ridiculous. Similarly, strict close-mindedness merely signifies that one’s mind is made up on an issue, that nothing can change it. Close-mindedness signifies that one knows he is right.
A balance is needed between close-mindedness and open-mindedness. We must close our minds to logical impossibilities such as squaring circles and ridiculous things such as zombie apocalypses. As Christians, we must also close our minds to heresies, even the popular heresies of today such as "one religion is as good as another." 
But we must be open to all logical arguments such as theological debates and political topics, such as how to best reduce poverty and the feasibility of "just war." We must be willing to consider all opinions on unsettled topics, and not simply cling to our own preconceived opinions. If we are initially right, we will better understand the fallacy of other's positions by examination of their arguments; if we are wrong, we will be better men and women for admitting our errors.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Conspiracy Against Beauty

The University of California is changing its logo from an old, ornate design to what can be politely described as an excrescence. Many people have shown their disapproval with the new logo; a few have even started a petition to change the logo back to the old one. (So far, the petition has been unsuccessful.)
This university's replacement of a beautiful logo with a modern, ugly one is emblematic of a trend in society to replace all that is beautiful things with glittery, trendy froth. There is a conspiracy against beauty in modernity – a trend that much of humanity has willingly acquiesced in.
The conspiracy is driven by those who push the the illusion of inevitable progress. In this vision, mankind inevitably progresses upwards: what is old is bad, what is new is good.
And modern man has embraced this vision, headlong pursuing the new, the trendy, the novel. He is constantly sucked into the snark of hastily constructed memes, the mindless adventures of vapid celebrities, and the sophomoric humor of popular YouTube videos. He is rendered thrall to the electronic vortex of Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail.
But the corrosive fixation on the shadow world of electronics comes at a great price - modern man loses awareness of his surroundings. The beauty of the real world is in competition with alluring yet ultimately soulless alternate reality. And in "developed countries," the alternate reality of the shadow world is winning hands-down. 
This detachment from the real world comes with a dreadful price - the loss of interest and even the destruction of what is beautiful. 
The glorious architecture and stained-glass windows of old churches is demolished, replaced with the concrete meeting halls and prisons which pass for churches today. Scenic vistas are carved up by developers seeking room for golf courses and high-rises.
The power of music to provoke emotion in sound is distorted into the psychedelic nightmare of modern "artists" whose screaming passes for music. The realism and beauty of art in paintings and canvas is warped into expressions of twisted despair in canvas and clay.
And the wonder, strength, and life-creating joy of romantic relationships is twisted into animalistic craving for the mindless, quickly-passing pleasure of quick hook-ups and uncommitted relationships (or even the shadow relationships of porn).  
In the name of progress, modernity seeks to improve on human nature and create new things in a shadow world - even declaring war on beauty to make their "changes."

Saturday, December 8, 2012


This is the 200th post on Gray Matters! 
Milestones are curious things. From a practical standpoint, they mean very little. Big numbers ending in zeroes stand for... big numbers ending in zeroes. There is nothing inherently different in post 199 and post 200.
But milestones do signify longevity. Much of the power of a long-standing tradition is in its age; people innately trust people or companies that have done something well for years. 
Age, on some level, indicates success. A marriage that lasts 50 years signifies years of love, dedication, and sacrifice. A Church that has existed for 2000 years (in the face of every persecution imaginable) signifies an ability to withstand the storms of time.
The 200th post of any blog is something of a milestone; signifying a lot of writing on my part (and a lot of suffering on yours). At the very least, this 200th post on Gray Matters signifies that I enjoy bloviating. (In my defense, not every post was mine.) And the fact that you are still scanning these words, dear readers, indicates that you either have a high tolerance for pain, or that you enjoy reading these rants.
God willing, Gray Matters will reach many milestones in the years to come.

Friday, December 7, 2012

In Defense of Professional Football

There is an increasing push in America to ban the sport of football. They claim that the sport is too violent and causes too many injuries - both short term and long term - for people to be allowed to play the game.
I am not in that camp. I love professional football (I am a dyed-in-the-wool Broncos fan), and want the sport to survive and thrive for many years to come. 
There are several reasons for my liking of football. I like the sport because it feeds into my innate desire to see fierce competition and athletes challenging one another. I also like it because millions of my fellow Americans like the sport, giving me an opening to talk with them.
I love football because it is one of the few places in our feminized society where it is acceptable for a man to be manly, where a man is not chastised for his masculinity. (Disclaimer: Rugby is far more manly than football, but it isn’t as popular as football in America.)
Men need places where they can be men. Men thrive on challenge and on struggle. Football provides an outlet for men to be physical, to display their prowess to their fellows, to challenge others.
Places where men can be men are disappearing. American society is hyper-civilized; even threats can get one arrested. And injury is increasingly seen as a greater evil than dishonor;  the code of manhood by which men live is openly mocked and scorned in a world of feminist influence.
I do not discount the dangers of football. Yes, I understand the fact that repeated blows to the head can cause brain trauma. Yes, I understand that concussions are a huge problem in football.  And by all means, the NFL can and should strive to make football safer for its players.
But athletes freely and willingly choose to play the game, knowing the risks involved. The solution to eliminate the problem of injury seems to be more out of a desire to protect anyone and everyone from potential injury - even if it requires the sapping of the soul.
We live in an over-kind society which seeks to protect everyone from any possibility of injury - at any cost, including the neutering of its citizens. Violence can injure and perhaps even kill; but modern society babies its male citizens to death and saps their souls in the process.
Enough with the eternal rubber room! Let men be men; let them challenge each other if they so choose.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Universality of Moral Laws

The modern age is an age of petty rebellion against the natural law. Modern society is filled with pygmy iconoclasts, who target rules (often in groups) in rebellion against an inconvenient moral code.
Some simply reject the very idea of a moral code. But many who uphold the idea of a moral code justify their rebellion against it with the ridiculous claim: “The rules don’t apply to me.” This attitude stems from a tendency of fallen humanity to believe that one is exempt from moral codes by some special grace.
Men and women often claim personal exceptions to “inconvenient” or “unpleasant” moral laws. Individuals often argue this way about their taking drugs or drinking while driving: “Others will be harmed by drunk driving, but not me. I can handle a few drinks.” Couples often argue that while others may be sinning while having sex outside of marriage, they are not, because “they love one another” or “their relationship is special.”
Now, different humans often react in completely dissimilar ways to the same circumstances – one person may be seemingly unaffected by an action, while another may be completely incapacitated by the same deed. But no one is exempt from the moral law. And disobedience to the moral law has consequences both temporal and spiritual. Some avoid the temporal consequences of their actions, but none avoid the spiritual consequences.
And chances are good if a man claims personal exemptions from moral laws, he knows what he is doing is wrong, and will face both temporal and spiritual consequences for his actions. As C.S. Lewis noted in his famous essay “Screwtape Proposes a Toast:” “No man who says I’m as good as you believes it. He would not say it if he did. The St. Bernard never says it to the toy dog, nor the scholar to the dunce, nor the employable to the bum, nor the pretty woman to the plain. The claim to equality, outside the strictly political field, is made only by those who feel themselves to be in some way inferior.”
A similar situation applies to a man discussing his relation to the moral code. If a man is claiming exemption from a particular moral rule, there is little doubt that he realizes that his actions are wrong - and that he will eventually suffer for his actions.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Relationships, Virtue, and “Luck”

Many people refer to a man with a beautiful or virtuous girlfriend or spouse as a “lucky” man. Others say that a girl with a handsome or virtuous boyfriend or husband is fortunate. I often find myself using such language through force of habit. 
But this idea is terribly inaccurate. Strong romantic matches do not happen by accident; good men attract good women, and vice versa.
Perhaps the concept of "luck" in relationships would be true in an era where arranged marriages were common and courting couples did not choose their spouses based on “love.” (Although even in such an era, parents would seek to match their children with suitable mates, and so would have an incentive to match their children with virtuous partners.)
But in an era where relationships are sparked by romantic interest and tested through the sweet trial of dating, luck has very little to do with the formation of stable romantic relationships. People freely choose their  partners in romantic relationships, and their life choices shape their choice of romantic partners.
Humans tend to marry on their own level. An intelligent man will usually seek an intelligent mate. A wealthy man will most likely look for a wealthy mate (Cinderella stories notwithstanding). Strong Catholics often seek out other strong Catholics. 
So too do virtuous people seek out virtuous partners. We seek partners in our relationships; we do not seek those we can bedazzle continuously as worthy mates for life. And though a dating or married individual may speak of his or her partner as a “better half,” instinctively he or she recognizes that he is worthy of the other’s love, that he or she is a suitable match for the other person. A relationship founded on fundamental inequality is a precarious one. 
Yes, there are caveats and exceptions to this rule. Men and women do seek out partners who exhibit good qualities they lack. Yes, women do tend to “marry up” regarding financial and social status (although this is increasingly being called into question in an increasingly feminized society). But these caveats are largely incidental concerning each partner's level of virtue. 
This is comforting – and cautioning. For if a man lives a life of virtue, the chances are very good that he will end up choosing a woman for a spouse who also exhibits similar virtue - and will be happier for his choice. But if he fail to exhibit virtue, the reverse is likely true - and he and the relationship will suffer as a result..

Monday, December 3, 2012

Advent Reflections

Advent and Lent are the two major penitential seasons of the liturgical year. As Christians, we are called during these seasons to sacrifice and prayer in preparation for a glorious event.
Every time God’s people celebrate God’s glory, they must first go through a time of penitence. There is no Easter Sunday without the agony of Good Friday. Similarly, Christ’s birth does not happen without a period of longing on the part of the Chosen People for the Messiah.
But for many Christians today, Lent is the primary season of penitence for Christians, while Advent is an afterthought. This is partially because Lent is, quite simply, a longer and more intense period - 40 days in the wilderness. Advent is a shorter time of waiting, so to speak, and entails comparatively less sacrifice.
But this state of affairs is also because the period before Christmas has been kidnapped by retailers and transformed into "the holiday season" Advent has been commercialized in our society, recreated into a time to worship the almighty dollar. 
Christmas in the modern world begins on Black Friday, with the secular advent of the shopping season (or even earlier). Christmas songs start around Thanksgiving, "holiday decorations" (now increasingly without Christ) go up weeks before Christmas.
This may be acceptable for a secular society which cares little for the coming of Christ; it is wrong and foolish for Christians to embrace these customs. Advent is a time of waiting and self-restraint in preparation for the glorious coming of Christ, not a period of slavish devotion to sales. We Christians have days after Christmas to celebrate Christ’s birth.
Our Christmas begins December 25. Let us purify ourselves before His coming!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Dealing with a Cold

Today is the First Sunday of Advent, the beginning of the liturgical year and the start of the period of waiting for Christ’s birth. And I am celebrating this period of joyous and penitential preparation for Christ's birth by lying in bed and moaning.
For I was recently given the glorious gift of a nasty cold over the weekend. From a physical standpoint, it hasn’t exactly been a weekend to be proud of. (When you haven’t eaten anything since Friday and still are throwing up water and apple juice, that is NOT a good sign.) And I have done absolutely nothing of substance over the past couple days (except maybe catch up on sleep).
For the record, I hate being sick with a fiery passion - especially on weekends when I have things to do AND people to see. And I loathe playing the role of “Typhoid Paulie,” and have next to no tolerance for pain and illness. 
But what is sobering is not the fact that I am ill, but that I am such a wimp about bearing with illness and pain of any type. Other people suffer from illnesses and injuries far worse than mine. Yet they bear these crosses with forbearance. As for me – well, my roommates can attest to my almost continuous whining this weekend. 
But the point of crosses is not to make others suffer through them, but to bear them patiently. I was exhorted by a friend to “offer up my cross of germs.” And so I will attempt to do, however badly.
God grant me a humble spirit and a mouth that doesn’t complain every five seconds over my aches and queasy insides.