BIRTHDAYS: TIME TO EXAMINE CONSCIENCE AND CONSCIOUSNESS – A response to a question on what we ought to do on or before our birthdays.
(A guide to a happy and fulfilled life)

Birthdays are special days and moments in our lives. They are more of days of thanksgiving than those of anticipation of good wishes and gifts from love ones. Hence, gifts and birthday messages are secondary. One’s birthday is a day to make a record of one’s past in order to move forward happily and with a clearer vision.
Unexamined life is not worth living says Socrates. Each day of our lives, we ought to examine our activities. Hence, we have to examine our consciences and examine our consciousness. Once we fail to do that, we continue suppressing ourselves; living without purpose and without clarity of thought and ideas.
Man is the greatest question to himself.
In answering the question “who is man”? Batista Mundi in his book, Philosophical Anthropology, states that, “this is an interrogative for which only philosophers can search for and – perhaps – find an adequate and exhaustive answer for on the rational level. For him, the pretense of science for taking the place of philosophy in resolving human enigma is clearly fallacious”. This is apt. It explains the difficulties man encounters in order to understand himself. I think, therefore, that through some conscious activities man could have some answer and some clarity about himself.

There are times in our lives we should not joke with. Such times are so important that we must make positive use of. We must examine our consciences and our consciousness. Such times are day of anniversary, birthdays, etc.
Days before our birthday, we ought to embark on so many conscious activities, answering so many questions of our lives. Such activities are meant to help us reflect on our past lives, our present state and our future prospects. Such prayerful reflection will help us to have a clearer vision towards continuing our journey in life.
Life is a journey, and no one makes a journey without preparing. We make a day, 10 days, 10 years journey with greater preparation. We say prayers asking God to grant us journey mercies and successes in our journey. We do all necessary arrangements in order to make sure we leave nothing missing or we do not forget anything to enjoy uneventful and seamless journey.
If we can for prepare a journey of such small period of time, what of our life journey; a journey we do not know when it began or when it will end! Life journey is a journey we always wish to go further. Hence, we pray for “long life and prosperity”. Quite frankly, this is a journey that can be cut short at any time without anyone’s consent. It is a journey I think needs urgent preparation each and every minute. This is a journey we ought to be ready always.
Just as we do not know when we were born, although we were just told the date and we believed it, we do not know with any degree of certainty when we will die. We can die anytime and anywhere.
Each day of our lives we ought to be conscious of this journey. We need always to prepare ourselves for the journey and for the success that accompanies it. Success of life is all about peace and tranquility of mind; being able to discover those values that are essentially meaningful. Life is all about finding the meaning of our existence, the hidden treasure that is buried inside us. St Augustine writes movingly about his own experience of seeking and finally discovering this divine treasure the meaning of his life in his famous autobiography, The Confessions. After a fruitless search for this treasure outside himself, he finally discovers it in the depths of his own heart. His words convey his joy in discovering the hidden treasure:  ‘Late have I loved you, o beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you.’
As we celebrate our birthdays, we must ask ourselves what meaning have we attached to our lives. Are we really searching for the right meaning?, also are we searching for it in the right place.
Birthdays are great moments in our lives. Here we remember the day it pleased God to allow each of us see the light in the world in a great fashion. We celebrate the successful delivery of each of us by our mothers. The echoes of joy from our father, who announced the arrival of the new born baby in this fashion, “My wife has just put to bed, the mother and baby are doing great”. The joy of friends and families on hearing this good news is always ecstatic. The joy is even grows by leaps and bounds when the news gets to the village. The women “Ndi inyom di” will immediately begin their dance and chanting songs of joy, happiness and thanksgiving to God for granting their daughter safe delivery. They shower the new born baby with praise and benediction. The culture of rubbing powder which is a sign of happiness and joy is not forgotten. All these are done because a new life has been brought to the world. That is the joy that comes with birth. There could be other rituals that follow the new birth. All these show us that life is not ordinary. Life is sacred and precious.
The baby continues to grow from childhood to adulthood and with challenges at every stage of growth and development.
The Psychologist Erikson in his psychosocial theory states that we experience eight stages of development over our lifespan, from infancy through late adulthood. At each stage there is a crisis or task that we need to resolve. Successful completion of each developmental task results in a sense of competence and a healthy personality. Failure to master these tasks leads to feelings of inadequacy. Hence, on our birthday we ask ourselves whether we are achieving the competence and healthy personality that we should achieve or the reverse.
On our birthdays we do the following. I summarized them using the acronym, T – G- F – R
T— Thanksgiving
G— Gratitude
F—‐ Forgiveness
R — Resolution

In thanksgiving we appreciate God for his goodness and blessings in our lives. 1 Chronicles 16:34: says; “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” God’s love endures forever in our life. We cannot thank God enough for his goodness in our life. On our birthdays, we must thank God with all our hearts. When you are thankful it is a sign of tranquility of the soul. In Colossians 3:15: St Paul says ; “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful”. He also encourages us in Colossians 4:2: by these words; “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. There is always something to be thankful for.”
Being thankful and expressing your gratitude are important parts of being happy in life. Finding the proper way to thank others for their generosity or even reminding ourselves just how much we have to be thankful for can be very rewarding.
On this day of my birthday I thank God for the dignity and beauty of my being. I thank God for my precious innate self which is my greatest gift, the only thing that cannot be taken away from me and the only thing I probably own.
I thank God for His love, care, healing, and for His protection. I lack words to express my gratitude to God, but may He be praised forever in my life. Amen


I accept the idea of John Ortberg who said that “Gratitude is the ability to experience life as a gift. It liberates us from the prison of self-preoccupation.” Life is indeed a gift from God, and when we accept the fact that life is a gift, we can then know how to manage our life. The good thing it does for us is that it removes us from self – preoccupation.
Each day of our lives, we should be able to show gratitude to all those who have in one way or another have helped us. On our birthday we should be able to show immense gratitude. One’s birthday is not more of a day we expect gifts, but a day to appreciate others, a day we show gratitude to God and everyone that have touched one’s life.
Gratitude can work wonders. In the words of William Arthur Ward; “Gratitude can transform common days into praise, turn routine jobs into joy and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” When we show gratitude, we begin to see the minutest details of all the favours and blessings we have received. And that is why Cicero would say that “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parents of all others.” Gratitude is a virtue we all are to cultivate.
And Melody Beatti opines that “Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow”.
As I celebrate my birthday, I humbly present my gratitude to all those who have in anyway contributed to my wellbeing. My gratitude goes to all of you. You are great people and I have no regret knowing you all. I would like to mention names but I have chosen to summarize it in this way; I appreciate my parents and my siblings, all my family members, you all have been great. The love you have for me cannot be measured. You treat me always like the baby of the house. You all have sacrificed a lot to see me always smiling and be happy. I thank you all. Second, my gratitude goes to my local Ordinary whom have been a source of hope and encouragement before and after my ordination. To all the priests of my Diocese, I appreciate your loving kindness. I can never forget your love and generosity showed on my family before, during the burial of my grandmother, Late Monica Nworah. I appreciate you all. I appreciate all other priests, Sister, brothers who contributed to my growth. You have sacrificed a lot. I appreciate my classmates, spiritual directors who continue to follow me with prayers and counselling.
I appreciate all my friends; so numerous you are. You have contributed heavily to my growth and development. You have also showered me with gift and I heartily I thank you all. I love you all.
My gratitude also goes to my lovely parishioners of St Gregory parish Amoli. You are great people. I also appreciate all my friends in Lome. You people are wonderful and great in loving kindness.

Pope Alexander pointed that “If forgiveness is divine, does one need to be a saint”? Forgiveness is the stuff of everyday heroes, the ultimate measure of internal peace. It can be a form of emotional aikido, where we disarm our perceived opponent with patience and calm and exact the grandest form of “revenge” by declaring peace, if only internal. To err is human, to forgive divine.
It is always good to enter into a new year of your life with a contrite heart. In forgiveness, we ask God for forgiveness, ask humans for forgiveness and we forgive all those that have offended us. The good thing about forgiving those that hurt us is that you liberate yourself. When you forgive, you liberate yourself from the grudges.
Research has shown that forgiveness is linked to good mental health outcomes such as reduced anxiety, depression and major psychological disorders as well as with fewer physical health symptoms and lower mortality rates.
Marcus Aurelius would say “If hope gives you wings, forgiveness will often be what you will need to get off the ground. As an aspect of resilience and a measure of psychological flexibility, forgiveness is best cultivated as an ongoing practice.” He further pointed that “The best revenge is not to be like your enemy”
Therefore, on the day of my birthday I ask all those I have offended to forgive me for I am sorry to have offended you. I so much love all of you and I want you to be healthy and enjoy internal peace. To any who might have offended me I give you tons of my smiles of forgiveness. I have forgiven. “Remember the smile is not on the face, it is in the heart”.
In the day of our birthdays, we begin another stage of our lives. Here, we must decide what good we are to start doing and the bad we must eschew. We must make firm dispositions and set goals that we must be able to achieve. Just go about little things and make quick progress in doing good.
Our goals should be “SMART”. Smart is an acronym coined in the journal, Management Review, in 1981 for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. It may work for management, but it can also work in setting your resolution, too. Remember that goals are only important insofar as they set direction. Otherwise they are meaningless. He who sets goals should be ready to work hard. One of the principles I have always tried to work with is the principle that states; “No ifs, no buts. Get your job done”. Don’t give reasons. Just get your job done. If you make efforts, even if you do not get things 100% your efforts will make obvious marks.
Finally, my greatest prayer as I celebrate my birthday today is that the good Lord may continue to bless the works of my hands. And as Solomon would ask, I ask Lord for more wisdom and understanding as I walk in His path. Amen!!

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