Joining the survivors' club Print
Living and Learning
Thursday, Mar. 19, 2009 -- 12:00 AM
Living and Learning column by Msgr. Daniel T. Ganshert

The Survivors Club is currently a best seller. In his travels far and wide, the author found that faith in God was the top reason people gave for surviving the ups and downs of life.

Speaking of survivors, have you heard the story about the three Olympic Games fans who had no tickets to see the track and field events?

After watching some of the athletes enter, one of them got an idea and told the others to follow his lead. He found a long straight stick along the road and going up to the ticket gate said pole vaulting. They let him in. After finding an old car hubcap, the next one went up to the gate and said discus. They let him in. Number three found a roll of barbed wire, went up to the gate, and said fencing. They let him in, too. All because the first one said follow me and survived.

People around the world say that the secret to survival is faith in God. As Catholics we know that faith in God is made possible by following the lead of Jesus Christ. It is Jesus who asks us to follow him in these hard economic times and in all times. If we want to get into the olympics of life, that is, really living, being fully alive no matter what the economy is doing, just follow him.

But isn't life stressful enough already? He must mean for other people to be his disciple, not me.

Jesus knows what stress is all about. He's been there. He knows that stress can cause the body to experience nervous symptoms like cold sweat, heart palpitations, or uncontrollable feelings of panic. Excess stress resulting from alarm, fear, exhaustion, or burn-out can produce misery and physical dysfunction. The causes of stress are complex and every life has a certain amount of it. Job loss, mounting bills, you name it, are but a few of the causes.

We need the ability to adapt to stress in our lives. We have to find the right spiritual balance if we are to live our lives in a state of well-being and peace. This we can do in these trying times when we have faith in God. A survivor follows Jesus, our savior. "Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you" (Mt. 11:28).

Msgr. Daniel Ganshert is the vicar general for the Diocese of Madison.