Do nothing out of selfish ambition

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Twelve-year-old Emily is on the move again. Her family is relocating to San Francisco, home of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger, a game where books are hidden all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles. But Emily soon learns that Griswold has been attacked and is in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold and leads to a valuable prize. But there are others on the hunt for this book, and Emily and James must race to solve the puzzles Griswold left behind before Griswold’s attackers make them their next target.

Discussion: The book was fun with an overall mystery and many puzzles the main characters had to solve. One of the things that struck me as odd from the beginning of the book was their parent’s hobby of living at least a year in all 50 states. The family, every year, moves to a different state. At the beginning of the book, the parents didn’t realize the impact this hobby would have on their two children. I could understand a need to move for a career, help family, or for safety purposes a few times throughout a child’s life. A few moves are quite different than a child who will move at least 18 times before adulthood. When I think about my childhood, close friendships were one of my greatest joys in life. Friendship is still one of the greatest joys in life, and profound relationships take time to develop.

Dr. Schwartz, a professor of psychology and education at Mount Saint Mary College, had some interesting things to say about the importance of childhood friendships in Hudson Valley Parent magazine, which you can read here. In this book, the children made friends at their new location. The parents realized how the constant moving hurt their children and the importance of their new friendships, so they decided to put their hobbies on hold. Also probably good because this is the first book in a series (here). It sets the reader up for familiar characters, which is vital in a fan base.

As parents, we at times have to put our hobbies on hold to raise our children. We can pick them up again once our children are older. Fasting for our family can be virtuous, and it also allows us to enjoy things more. Fasting and feasting go together. To truly enjoy the feast, one must have a period of fasting. As Christians, we put God first, our neighbors second, and ourselves last.

Phil 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility, consider others as more important than yourselves.

As Catholic parents, our goal is to imitate the Holy Family. This year is the year of St. Joseph. There has been a lot of discussion about St. Joseph in the past few months. We can only imagine the sacrifices St. Joseph made for Mary and Jesus. He probably had many dreams and ideas about what his life with Mary would look like, but it didn’t happen in any way he probably planned. His wife was pregnant before they lived together (Mt 1:18-19). Then he learned instead of having children of his own; he was to be the father of the Messiah (Mt 1:20-25). I can’t imagine the amount of stress and anxiety and fear he must have felt, him a mere human man asked to raise the Messiah as his child. Then he had to protect them by moving to Egypt, which meant he left everything (job, family, friends, home, etc.) until the angel told him they could return home (Mt 2:13-23). He did these things for his wife and child, even though his life wasn’t what he imagined or dreamed.

I want to stress; I’m not suggesting that children should become the center of parent’s lives. That will only raise entitled children. Parents sometimes have to sacrifice their own goals and dreams to ensure their children’s safety or physical or mental health. The rewards for this will be seen one day. St. Alphonsus Liguori had this to say about St. Joseph’s sacrifice:

The Apostle Paul writes, that in the next life Jesus Christ "will render to every man according to his works" (Rom 2:6).  What great glory must we not suppose that he bestowed upon St. Joseph, who served and loved him so much while he lived on earth! At the last day our Savior will say to the elect, "I was hungry, and you gave me to eat.  I was a stranger, and you took me in; naked, and you clothes me" (Mt 25:35). These nevertheless, have fed Jesus Christ, have lodged him or clothed him, only in the persons of the poor, but St. Joseph procured food, a dwelling, and clothes for Jesus Christ in his own person.  Moreover, our Lord has promised a reward to him who gives a cup of water to the poor in his name: "for whosoever shall give you to drink a cup of water in my name, he shall not lose his reward" (Mk 9:40).  What, then, must be the reward of St. Joseph, who can say to Jesus Christ, "I not only provided thee with food, with a dwelling, and with clothes; but I saved thee from death, delivering thee from the hands of Herod." 


  1. The book does sound fun to read since it has solving mysteries as part of the experience. I like how you brought St. Joseph into the discussion. I don’t think I thought about St. Joseph much until this Lent. I don’t know who said it, but St. Joseph is considered the greatest saint (since Mary is not just a saint, but the Theotokos), Quiet St. Joseph suffered lots for Jesus, Mary and for us. Stressful events, but always faithfulness was a focus of his life.

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