Letter from the editor: Learning life lessons from the comics


A few years ago, the webcomic created by Dan Walsh “Garfield Minus Garfield” became popular on the Internet. What people were amused by was exactly what the name implies: the Garfield comic strip minus the fat cat.

Without Garfield, you are left with a lonely and strangely pathetic Jon Arbuckle character talking, not to a cat, but to himself. Without anyone to answer him or even to interact with, he is not exactly able to communicate.

Now, there is something to be said for talking to oneself. After all, G.K. Chesterton said that if a man does not talk to himself, it’s probably because he is not worth talking to.

Still, “Garfield Minus Garfield” points nicely to an important truth – happiness largely depends on being other-oriented and the ability to communicate.

In a sense, this is the great challenge of life: learning to communicate. Communication may automatically trigger thoughts of technology in today’s minds, but the term delves into much more profound depths. Each age of history since the beginning of time reveals the struggles and failures of communication between humans. As Catholics we can see how these struggles point to our ultimate thirst for communication with a Perfect Being. Indeed, the most fascinating layers of the term “communication” are only discovered in light of philosophy and theology.

Appreciating the significance of communication is one way to understand why Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI proclaimed Oct. 11, 2012-Nov. 24, 2013, the Year of Faith. As we enter the final month of the Year of Faith, it is an apt time to reflect on what the past year has brought and how it can shape our future.

“Credo” does not mean merely “I believe.” More literally, it means “I give my heart to.” By announcing the Year of Faith, Benedict encouraged Christians to re-give their intellect and heart to Christ.

“Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received, and when it is communicated as an experience of love and joy,” Benedict said. If our heart is given to something or someone, our life reflects and communicates that fact.

As the Year of Faith winds to a close, each of us at Franciscan has the opportunity to evaluate where our heart and intellect are oriented, and whether that orientation is directing us to Christ or sliding us into the existential angst of Jon Arbuckle. Hopefully it’s the former.

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