Hidden blessing in a late fee | Persons, places and things


By Barb Arland-Fye

Opening mail at the office after business hours can be risky, as it proved to be last Thursday night when I discovered a credit card statement with a late fee. The Catholic Messenger pays its bills on time, religiously (pun intended), so this notice was unexpected and unwelcome news.


The credit card company had not received the payment by its deadline and the bank assessed a late fee and interest charge. Especially upsetting, was this sentence: “Late payments, missed payments, or other defaults may be reflected in your credit report.”

A line from the original “GhostBusters” theme song came to mind: “Who you gonna call?” I called our business office coordinator, Jill Henderson, whose reassuring voice and advice relieved my worries. The next morning, I called the credit card company about the status of the payment and requested a late-fee waiver. The issue was resolved, following a 45-minute journey by phone. I also accepted a recommendation to pay future credit card bills online to avoid a repeat of a late payment and fees.


I thanked the customer service representative for her help, ended the call, and offered a prayer of thanksgiving before proceeding with her recommendation. Moving to online payment requires extra security, of course. However, my responses to the security questions unexpectedly led to some reflection on my life’s values.

Where was your favorite place to visit as a child? The places my parents, brothers and I traveled for vacation rolled out in fast-forward motion in my mind’s eye. I realized, though, that my favorite place to visit was not about the destination, but a relationship. I answered the question with a response that will evoke fondness anytime I must provide it.

Another question, regarding a favorite athletic activity, had a twist: What athletic activity would you most like to do in the Olympics? I enjoy a variety of athletic activities, but not so much as a competitor in the Olympics!

Ironically, I thought a different piece of mail on my desk would cause concern when I opened it. That did not happen and I was relieved. Then I opened the envelope containing the credit card statement, which turned out to be the source of my worry!

Several passages from Scripture remind me to put away worry and to trust in God in all things. Luke (12: 25-26) asks: “Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your life-span? If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest?” Paul advises the Philippians: “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God” (Phil. 4:6).

I have read some insightful, challenging columns about the season of Lent providing the impetus to reflect on our lives and the need for conversion, even in small ways, to build on our relationship with God and one another. My propensity to worry is an area that requires conversion, and the incident at the office regarding the credit card statement serves as Exhibit A.

What I need to remember is that God always provides assistance. For me, it is companions on the journey, like Jill, with her reassuring voice and advice to lift the worry from my shoulders.

(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at arland-fye@davenportdiocese.org)

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