A very small excerpt from Bishop Sheen’s wonderful book <Your Life Is Worth Living>:
“There are two ways of waking up in the morning. One is to say, “Good morning, God,” and the other is to say, “Good God, morning!” We are going to start with the second.
People who wake up that way have an anxiety about life. Life seems rather absurd to them and considerable literature is being produced today on the absurdity of life. One of the best expressions of that absurdity is a novel with two factories on either side of a river. One factory took great big stones, smashed and ground them into powder and shipped the powder to the other side of the river where another factory turned them into great big boulders. Then the boulders were sent back to the first factory and so the routine continued. This is a literary expression of the way people regard life today.
One finds this absurdity expressed in the writings of an existentialist who pictured three people in hell. Each one wanted to talk about himself, his own aches and his own pains. The others were only interested in their own aches and pains. Finally, when the curtain goes down, the last line of the play is, “My neighbor is hell!” which is the way some people live.
Along with this sense of absurdity there is also a drift. Many minds are like Old Man River; they just keep floating along, no goal, just a kind of an arrow without a target, pilgrims without a shrine, journeys at sea without any kind of a port. What is the common conclusion of people who wake up and say, “Good God, morning”? To them, life has no meaning; it is without purpose, goal or destiny.
I remember when I first went to Europe to study as a young priest. I was taking courses during the summer at the Sorbonne in Paris, principally in order to learn French. I dwelt in a boarding house that belonged to Madame Citroën. I was there about a week when she came to me and said something, but it was all French to me. You get so angry in Paris because the dogs and horses understand French, and you don’t! There were three American school teachers living in the boarding house and I asked them to act as interpreters. This is the story that came out.
Madame Citroën said after her marriage, her husband left her and a daughter that was born to them became a moral wreck on the streets of Paris. Then she pulled out of her pocket a small vial of poison.
She said, “I do not believe in God and if there is one, I curse Him. I’ve decided since life has no meaning and is absurd, to take this poison tonight. Can you do anything for me?”
Through the interpreter I said, “I can if you’re going to take that stuff!”
I asked her to postpone her suicide for nine days. I think it is the only case on record of a woman postponing suicide for nine days. I never prayed before as I prayed for that woman. On the ninth day the good Lord gave her great grace.
Some years later on the way to Lourdes, I stopped off in the city of Dax where I enjoyed the hospitality of Monsieur, Madame and Mademoiselle Citroën.
I said to the village priest, “Are the Citroën’s good Catholics?”
“Oh,” he said, “It’s wonderful when people keep the faith all during their lives”.
Obviously, he did not know the story. So it’s possible to find one’s way out of this absurdity.“