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Hide it under a bushel? No!

| Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Hide it under a bushel? No!

I’m sure many of us have heard, or even participated in, the post-Milkshake Mass traditions of slapping those Newman Hymnals closed, declaring “Yay God!” and waiting for one of the wonderful Dillon Hall piano accompanists — Noah Bongiovanni and Wil Zinkan — to play those pickup notes on the piano letting everyone know that we’re gonna sing a couple verses of “Let It Shine” to close out the night. It doesn’t always happen, but sometimes we even make it to a third verse that I have often found very entertaining: “Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m gonna let it shine! Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m gonna let it shine! Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m gonna let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine!” But can we commit to not hiding our lights under bushels? Let me share a couple of anecdotes that exemplify both the difficulty with, and the importance of, letting our light shine, with some tidbits of advice I’m certainly unqualified to give sprinkled in along the way.

  • “I sometimes feel like I have to downplay ACE because my friends might get upset.”

A dear friend of mine was recently selected to participate in the ACE program after graduation. This was a long time coming for her she had known she wanted to apply for ACE for years, and her acceptance was the culmination of uncountable steps towards that goal. It was a real privilege to be able to affirm her efforts and their fruit when we found out she had been accepted to the program, but a couple weeks later, she noted that she’s found herself at times needing to subdue her joy out of concern for two things: first, sensitivity to those who were also part of that application process, who had also exerted significant effort to that end, but who weren’t selected, and second, a more general awareness that people grow tired of someone talking about their excitement for an upcoming endeavor in which they do not share. Either way, that subdued joy is a loss for all involved, and we, as friends, should be intentional about letting others share the joys of their lives with us without fear that too much joy sharing will lead to alienation. If our joys are truly shared, rather than lorded, the end outcome in such situations can only be a positive one.

  • “I don’t want to be that girl, you know, the one who talks about her boyfriend too much.”

But scholastic and career achievements are not the only lights we might be inclined to hide under bushels. Sometimes, it’s the joys of a new romantic relationship. At the end of last semester, another dear friend and I were discussing the complications of entering a new romantic relationship. She noted a dichotomy between two different sorts of friends and what they want to hear about such developments: the ones that want to share your joy and hear everything about a new relationship, and the ones who find such discussions objectionable. The result, for her, was that she defaulted to refraining from sharing those joys with others unless and until she became aware that a particular individual was in the former group, because she didn’t want to sour a friendship by being considered “the girl who talks too much about her boyfriend.” After all, some friends are single and looking to enter into a relationship, and one might become resentful if his or her friends are always talking about their significant others. Some friends might even be looking to enter a relationship with the one doing the talking, leading to only more resent. Regardless, though, this fear of resentment from those who would poorly receive the joys of a new romantic relationship from a friend can, indeed, cripple friendships if one is not careful about it. And while this advice is perhaps a tad controversial even among my own rather solid group of friends, I feel compelled to provide it anyway: a true friend receives the joys of a friend’s newfound relationship and shares in them, rather than allowing personal resentment to interfere with what should strengthen a friendship rather than weaken it.

Allow me to bolster this particular point by respecting my byline and finding recourse in law, more specifically the laws of the Catholic Church. I had the privilege, last semester, to take two classes with the esteemed Fr. John Paul Kimes: Catholic Legal Tradition, which was about the history of the Catholic Church and its role in the development of various bodies of law, and Canon Law, which surveyed the 1983 edition of the Code of Canon Law. One point which we focused on in that class was the set of canons about the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. While canon 1055 of the Code notes that “the matrimonial covenant … is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring,” the Code also demands of priests that they provide proper pastoral care not only to married people but to everyone else in the Church about the purposes of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, and in particular the fact that spouses “share in the mystery of the unity and fruitful love between Christ and the Church.” In short, marriage does not have the exclusive purpose of edifying the individuals who take part in it, but rather the even wider purpose of edifying the whole Church. If this is true, then shouldn’t we as the Christian faithful act like it in how we prepare people to enter into that sacrament? Shouldn’t we allow ourselves to be edified by the joys of the relationships that people around us have entered into?

Maybe our hesitance to be vulnerable in sharing these joys with others and our hesitance to be willing to receive those joys without resentment or jealousy are both grounded in something deeper than just being annoyed at our friends and how much they talk about the people they’re into at any given point in time. Perhaps instead the issue is that we’re really hiding our very selves under bushels. It is all too easy, when interacting with other people, to refrain from sharing the parts of ourselves that we fear are harder to love. As we begin a new semester, may we be intentional about seeking out and then practicing an agapic, Christly sort of love to crush these doubts and fears, be more open with each other about the things that we’ve been hiding under bushels, and truly allow our little lights to shine.

Devin is a member of Notre Dame Law School’s class of 2023. Originally from Farwell, Michigan, he is a 2020 graduate of Michigan State University’s James Madison College. In his free time, he sings with the Notre Dame Folk Choir and discusses the legal developments of the day with anyone who will listen. Inquiries into his surplus of law journal article and note ideas can be directed to [email protected], or @DevinJHumphreys on Twitter.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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