“The afternoon knows what the morning suspected.” So says, Robert Frost. So says most of us as our suns slowly sets.

“Youth is wasted on the young,” someone said which I find to be true. But I would never, ever want to be eighteen again now that I’m this age. (Sorry, future adults.) However, youth is the time for accumulating knowledge, hopefully useful knowledge to be used throughout life. But something is still missing in those early years. Ummm…

Our bodies slowly begin to show it’s age, or some age. Creaks, pains and weird sounds emitting from us; without warning! Gravity wins as the years mount. You may look in the morning mirror and not see yourself as much as you begin to see your parent. (It’s my father for me.)

Life is timed, a beginning and an end. Our soul, however, knows neither. As our bodies age, our soul doesn’t age, it matures. Another gift from God that was not lost to sin: our soul.

Our weekend readings talk about growing in humility, humble and holy. Three words that our culture scoffs at.

“If you want to get ahead in this world…” “It’s a dog-eat-dog world,” (I’ve never seen two dogs eating each other but I’ve witnessed it happening between people. “Only the strong survive,” and how many other sayings that fill our heads and place us ahead of that person we’ve left behind. It happens with priests as well. My joke about some priests is, “Even when they shower, they wear french cuffs!”

But forget your aging bodies and prayerfully consider and honor your maturing soul. Myself included. I don’t think I’d get very far in my soulful prayer thinking about words that our U.S. culture hates to every use – humility, humble, holy. Three “H’s” that may make you the loser in your working career and but a person of Christ in your spiritual life.

But wait! Why don’t we play a trick with our soiled U.S. minds and dwell more often on our soul which embodies those three “H’s,” and see what happens.

Soul. This God-planted organ that spiritually matures as another year is added to our life. So much of the soul, I believe, is instinctual. Scripture says it’s actively living and breathing within us. Our soul knows the right when we choose wrong. Our soul talks to us. We learn to press the “off” when the soul says, “Click the “off”. Our soul is communicating with us. When we humanly sin, our soul edges us a little more closely toward those three unU.S. words – humility, humble, holy.

If you don’t like what I’m saying so far then let me try this direction. In the movie, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” the baby is born fully old complete with dropping wrinkles and weary legs. Benjamin dies at the end as a pure, innocent baby in the loving arms of Cate Blanchett. (Brad Pitt, my double, plays the kid.) The infant baby here is the soul – full of all Christian history, saints and sinners (old, tried and true), stirring slowly the growing child toward the wisdom of God. The song sings, “We return to God what God has made in love.” Innocence. Vulnerable. Full of life’s wisdom. That’s what the teenager’s knowledge cannot achieve. The teen gets the knowledge tossed into the head but it steadily and persistently triggers the soul’s wise wisdom that is anciently old. That can only be achieved by a life lived – both in sin, indifference, and in grace.

If I asked any of you, and I mean all of you, if you are a holy, humble person? What do you think I’d hear? Every one of you would say, “No, not me. Maybe her, over there.” Ironically, you’d think that humility calls you to say that you’re not holy. It’d be a lie in my eyes but it may be your continuing what your aging U.S. bodies have all carried and continue to carry. You haven’t listened to the far more aging stories of your soul.

Remember, Mary never said, “My mind proclaims the greatness of the Lord.” She may have had her own aging moments but always possessed the maturity of the what? She powerfully says, “My soul proclaims…”

That’s my dad talking to us all in my morning mirror. “Humble, holy along with God’s gift of humility is within our reach. It’s the soul of the matter.

Robert Frost paraphrased, “The afternoon knows very well now what the morning thought and dreamed about what would eventually happen with passing, aging years…and it did happen.”


About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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