I have a devilishly addictive game on my phone called Spider Solitaire. Two decks of cards are dealt out and you have to arrange them back into eight suits, which when they are complete are removed from the board, revealing more cards. You can choose to play with 1-4 suits but the game gets much harder with each additional suit. I have spent (or you may think wasted) innumerable hours playing this darned game when I have nothing better to do, especially when unable to sleep.
So what’s so Catholic about all this? Well, when you start a game, you choose between a random deal or a winning deal. Not all deals are solvable, and there are up to 104! of them (104 x 103 x 102…x 2 x 1) which is greater than the number of sub-atomic particles in the observable universe- by a long, long way. The game is just as puzzling to play with either deal, but you only have certainty of winning with a winning deal. Whether you actually solve the puzzle is up to your ingenuity, but most importantly, your perseverance, because the game allows you to undo bad moves and try again until you reach the end. The fewer undone moves you use to solve the game, the higher your score, though solving it at all is all the consolation I need!
To me, this seems like a Catholic paradigm. The only certain way to solve life i.e. to reach Eternal Life is to play the winning deal. Christ shows us what the winning deal is, but leaves it up to us to persevere towards our own individual solution.
Of course, he has given us the Holy Spirit to whisper winning hints and strategies to us that we might be helped through the labyrinth of possible moves. Previous winners of this game of life, the Saints, can also assist us. That great server in Heaven, that we know as the Recording Angel, keeps a tally of all the winning deals.
If you wish to get entangled in Spider Solitaire, just Google it on the web, but just make sure you have plenty of time and patience first. The funny thing is, when I first got hooked, I never thought it would make me write this article!