Spirituality for Today – Spring 2021 – Volume 25, Issue 3

Simon Says

Rev. Raymond Petrucci

Following the leader is an act of co-operation and socialization practiced from childhood. We learned the necessity of staying in line and listening to a parent or a teacher. One game that really challenged our ability to listen and to act (or not to act) at the command of a leader was Simon Says. We remember how we listened to the leader say either "Simon says do this" and we did some physical movement that the leader did or "Do this" which we did not do because Simon did not say to do it. If we failed to listen for the command that Simon said, we were out of the game. This game was not only an exercise in listening and self-control, but also a lesson about competition and self-awareness. From another perspective, we are compelled to acquire the ability to discern whether to trust what a leader is telling us.

This is an age of cynicism and suspicion. We question every telephone call or email. We look with a wary eye at government, media, and all the persuaders in society. In other words, we look more intently at and listen more acutely to the "Simons" of our modern day. In truth, this is not a healthful state for any society that has had a history of being forward looking and hopeful. If we are to move confidently into the future, what voices of leadership are required? What internal voice will put us on a path toward a benign, respectable, and responsible way of living. In my opinion, our covenant with our God is of primary interest. How seriously do we take the Great Commandment that calls us to live within the dynamic of mutual love of God, neighbor, and self? Our response determines our ideals, morals, goals, and the general attitudes toward our place in the world and what living a life that matters really means.

This Simon Says:
By the mid-twentieth century, the time had come to take the final, fateful step: to declare, as did Jean-Paul Satre (1905–1980) and his school of existentialist thought, that the universe was utterly absurd and life itself completely meaningless. Hoe, then, ought one to live life? By courageously facing the void, frankly acknowledging that all is without meaning and that there are no such things as absolute values. And of course, by constructing one's values and living by them (shades of Nietzsche, to be sure).

Thomas E, Woods, Jr.
How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization

This Simon Says:
Unlike the gods of ancient Sumer, who appeared at best indifferent to human welfare, or the gods of ancient Greece, who were at times petty and vindictive in their dealings with mankind, the God of Catholicism loves mankind and wills man good. …All these areas: economic thought, international law, science, university life, charity, religious ideas, art, morality – these are at the very foundations of a civilization, and in the West every single one of them emerged from the heart of the Catholic Church. Thomas E. Woods, Jr. (a non-Catholic)

How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization

We all direct our minds and hearts toward a set of values by which we make the decisions necessary by what confronts us. If we see ourselves and others as children of God with Jesus' words to direct us, we live one way; if we see ourselves and others as mere biological entities directed by instinct, we live another way. One leads to life, the other to death. The Simon that we listen to is not self-evident (amazingly). As the candle of our earthly life slowly flickers out, we, in God's mercy, look forward to a resurrection to eternal life in God's love. In closing, I recommend that when it comes to Simon Says, the human Simon we look to for the righteous action, the "Do this" to imitate, is found in the one who followed the Way and the Truth and the Life – Simon Peter.