The following commercial illustrates the truth that “life is hard.” In this case, it comes in the form of being pelted with items ranging from broccoli to rubber duckies to an entire wedding cake. These sorts of things are only important in a decadent, privileged cultural environment. In less privileged parts of the world people struggle with basics like getting enough to eat, finding shelter from the elements, and avoiding fatal diseases. Most of the “problems” we have in the modern United States are ones others wished they had.
Nevertheless, the basic truth remains: life is hard. Its challenges are many, and God permits them to humble us and to help us grow. You have to be tough to endure. The Lord expects us to “man up” to our challenges.
Most of us have sentimental notions about angels in general and guardian angels in particular, yet the Bible depicts then as powerful, fierce, and almost warlike. They are holy and good, but their glory overwhelms. In Scripture, people encountering angels are often disconcerted and filled with fear.
Many of us think of the angels as here more to help us, but God tells us to obey them.
[The Lord God says,] See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him. If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you (Exodus 23:20-22).
Angels are to be revered and respected; they are not the prancing, doll-like figures we often imagine.
I do not write this to dash sentimental notions, only to add balance. Our angels love and serve us, but they do this with a divine authority that we ought not to trivialize.
For some reason I thought of all this when I ran across this commercial first shown during the Super Bowl in 2003. It featured linebacker Terry Tate, who is brought into a business to “motivate” the workers to follow their better natures. I am certainly not implying that angels act in this manner, but I have often wondered whether my own guardian angel doesn’t sometimes need tactics like this in order to shape me up!
Enjoy the commercial, and remember to obey your guardian angel!
Most of us who fly with any regularity have learned to tolerate airline food. Frankly it isn’t terrible, but we all know something better. It’s too bad the plane can’t stop at a nice restaurant, but I guess that would defeat the main purpose of flying: getting to our destination quickly. Most people aren’t willing to slow down to get something better.
But that is exactly what the Church bids us to do on Sundays: slow down, go to Mass, and receive the bread of finest wheat, the Eucharist. It does require us to “detour” from the world, to remove ourselves for a while from all its rushing about and come for the best meal, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Enjoy this unusual commercial that envisions more satisfying food on planes:
Cross-posted at the Catholic Standard: Slowing Down for the Best of Meals as Seen in a Commercial
One of the things that I have learned about myself, and humans in general, is that our strengths are very closely related to our struggles. Some people are very passionate; this makes them dedicated and driven to make a difference. But it also makes them prone to anger or depression. Their passion in one area (e.g., truth, justice) can cause difficulties with passions in other areas such as sexuality, food, or drink. Passionate people can inspire others and are often great leaders. But they also run the risk of crashing and burning, whether emotionally or morally.
At the other end of the spectrum, consider those who are very relaxed and steady emotionally. They are thoughtful, thinking and acting deliberately. They are calm under pressure, not easily excited. They make good diplomats; they are the sort to bring conflicting parties together. But such people may often struggle to maintain integrity. Sometimes they make too many compromises and forget that there are things that are worth being angry about, worth fighting for. If a person never gets worked up, it could be because he doesn’t care enough about important issues. There’s a saying that the opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s indifference.
This is part of what makes human beings complex and fascinating. There is a certain tipping point at which a virtue becomes a vice either by excess or defect. St. Thomas Aquinas said, In medio stat virtus (Virtue stands in the middle).
And thus in our example here of the passion of anger, the virtue to be sought is meekness. Aristotle defined meekness as the proper middle ground between too much anger and not enough.
The unusual commercial below shows an example of underwhelming joy. It is humorously portrayed in a perfectly deadpan way. But like anger, joy indicates a zeal for what is good, true, and beautiful (even if the subject is just shoes). It is certainly a virtue to be emotionally balanced, avoiding silliness and frivolity. But the strength of a stable and balanced personality can too easily become indifference about things that are important and should bring joy.
Think of someone you love. I’ll bet the thing you like most about him or her is often the very thing that frustrates you the most. Now think about yourself. What are your strengths? Are they not in fact closely related to the areas in which you struggle the most?
Enjoy this humorous commercial. In his subdued joy, is he exhibiting admirable control or is his heart dull? Is this virtue (balance) or is it a defect?
The commercial below contrasts two worlds. The first is the loud, chaotic world, of which Satan is prince—and he wants all your attention. The second is the quieter, more serene, more beautiful world of the Kingdom, of which Christ is King and Mary is Queen Mother. Choose for yourself.
St Anselm writes:
Insignificant man, escape from your everyday business for a short while, hide for a moment from your restless thoughts. Break off from your cares and troubles and be less concerned about your tasks and labors. Make a little time for God and rest a while in him. Enter into your mind’s inner chamber. Shut out everything but God and whatever helps you to seek him. And when you have shut the door, look for him, speak to God … (Proslogion, Chapter 1).
The world often tries to present itself as the latest and the greatest, but that’s only true on the surface—if at all. The Scriptures see the world as old and outdated, as passing away:
For this world in its present form is passing away (1 Cor 7:31).
The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever (1 John 2:17).
For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Cor 4:18).
The tennis player in the commercial below is using an outdated racquet, and it hinders her game; it’s time for her to upgrade her equipment. This is true for each of us, too. The Lord says to each of us,
My friend, come up higher (Lk 14:10).
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things (Col 3:1-2).
Upgrade your life. Rise above fleshly and passing things to spiritual and eternal ones. Step up to higher and better things. Accept the upgrade of grace, which will permit you to reach your full potential.
The commercial below focuses on a mother and daughter as the youngster gets ready for the day. There is the mother’s soft presence and support during the morning routine, but there is also her strength, as she makes sure that her daughter is ready for school on time, remembers her backpack, and promises to call (for some unknown reason). Love is not merely about softness; it is also about demands.
I am grateful that Georgia-Pacific (the manufacturer of Angel Soft) has chosen to feature a young girl with Down syndrome in its advertisement. As we all too sadly know, the overwhelming majority of parents (67 percent to over 90 percent, depending on the study/estimate) whose unborn baby is diagnosed with Down syndrome choose to abort the child. This is tragic. Everyone deserves to live. Life takes softness, but it also takes strength. Parents who have children with special needs deserve the softness of our encouraging love and the strength of our supportive love.
GEICO has a new commercial that, in addition to plugging their insurance, speaks to the importance of focus. Having the proper focus can change one’s outlook entirely.
In the commercial below, a youngster’s science fair project brings chaos. One of the parents at the fair barely notices, however, because he is focused on exciting news.
This is our goal: to remain astonished and joyful even in a world that is at times tumultuous and confusing. Astonished and joyful at what? The Good News that Christ has paid the price of our redemption, that God so loved the world that He sent His only Son so that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life, that the Word of the Lord remains forever.
Allow this perspective and focus to keep you serene and joyful even in the current chaotic mess of our society, the failed social experiment of a cultural revolution gone wrong.