The Gospel Truth

The Wow Factor: 49 Reasons for Joy | September 12, 2011

I have often wondered why so many of my fellow Catholics, who are more devout than I am don’t smile more.

Since smiling is usually the product of a clear conscience, you would think that they would smile more.

In fact some of them can be extremely pushy, angry and short-tempered.

Perhaps it’s because they bear the weight of the world on their shoulders or think something is wrong with enjoying life too much.

These people have lost or probably never had what Jesuit Father William O’Malley, S.J called the Wow factor.

I must have that because I am always saying wow,  as I see or do things that just make my spirit soar until I think my heart is going leave my body!

Last Tuesday was my birthday.  I was 68 years old.

A friend told me age was just a number.  Actually it is just a word.

Too many people get old and they never seem to experience that sense of joy.

Joy doesn’t have to be expensive.  Your life might not be going as you would like but you still can experience real joy.

You just have to be open to it and have a beating heart.

What I have written below is a random list of all of other things in my past, present and hopefully present that have given a marvelous feeling of joy, sometimes followed by a serenity that seems almost other worldly.

So here are as the song goes, 49 of my favorite things.  See if you have had any feelings of wow or joy, similar to mine.

Feel free to comment on the page provided.

Why 49?  Two reasons! Anyone can do 50–but the last few can be a stretch.  And besides I am saving that space for you.  Send me your #50–has to be different from my 49 and I will publish and send you a free copy of my last book, The Scorpion and the Frog.  (HB)


1)  seeing my little granddaughters bungi-jump on a trampoline at the local mall.  Seeing their wide-open eyes recess in their little heads as they soared, nearly to the top of the glass skylight;

2)  smelling the salty air on a catamaran in San Francisco Bay or any other place on deep water;

3)  a long, lingering full-body massage with massive blood flow (all internal) on a Thursday morning;

4)  watching a sunset with Judy in Naples on a February evening;

Image Detail

It's great to be alive

5)  seeing the Mets win at Citifield a few miles from my boyhood home, two birthdays ago;

6)  drinking a banana-chocolate smoothie at Starbucks during a 100 degree day in August;

7) listening to old Carley Simon or Petula Clark CD’s;


great way to celebrate a birthday

8)  watching a movie with the unrequited lover getting the girl;

9) seeing my first baseball game on May 29, 1954–Pee Wee Reese hit the winning home run at the Polo Grounds as Brooklyn won 4-2;

10)  smelling the air after a long, cool rain;

my hero

11) spending an hour before the Blessed Sacrament in our church’s chapel;

12) seeing Holy Cross beat anybody in football or basketball;

Jimmy Thomas

Go Cross Go

13) receiving the Father James Hartnett Award several years ago at the St. Louis Ritz in front of my whole family, including cousins from New York…and on my birthday;

14)  reading essays and articles I have written–or thinking about what I want to write about;

15) going to a game with my sons;

17) telling and listening to funny stories with friends–new and old;  works for both the friends and the stories

18)  watching my youngest sink the last seven foul shots in a row during a 7th grade game, his team won 29-28;

19) watching my daughter win the first Kevin Kline Award for Best Actress in a play in St. Louis in 2006;  Separate Tables

20) date night every Friday evening with Judy for Starbuck’s, a movie, and a light dinner;

21) seeing one of my plays produced on the St. Louis stage;

22) having a young pretty girl smile at me as we pass on the street;

23)  finishing my latest and most ambitious play, about a dysfunctional happy family, called In a Family Way;

24)  the sight of a new mother holding her brand new baby;

25) seeing my three children for the first time;

26) every time one of them thanks me for being their father;

27) a surprise gift from my wife or one of my kids that touched me specially, such as Howdy Doody, Rocky card, with my favorite theme, Gonna Fly Now and most recently a Ronald Reagan collectors pin.

28) seeing my oldest son play with or coach his three children; and any other kids that are on his teams;

29) spending three minutes with Gene Shalit on the Today Show and not losing my cool or my breakfast;

Gene Shalit

Three and a half minutes

30) having actually taught something to a goof-off in Brooklyn in 1967; little Joey Ancona learned what the word impaled meant, just before I ran him through with my pointer;

31) watching Ellen dance on her afternoon show during lunch at my favorite restaurant;

Halle Berry On Ellen:Halle Berry Dancing Hurricane Chris “She’s Fine”

I can feel her energy

32) seeing the face of God in a child’s smile;

33) learning something new;

34) hearing from an old high school friend; or college friend;

35)  getting a warm hug from a friend, preferably a female;

36)  having a grandchild hug my leg;

37) seeing my grandson play football, basketball, lacrosse, soccer etc.–all during the same season;

38) hearing my granddaughter sing at a school concert;

39) an even longer, more lingering massage on a late Sunday morning;

40) reading a book that makes me think:

41) watching What about Bob or Planes, Trains…;

42) running into a friend I have not seen for years;

43) receiving an unexpected honor of being named The Mindszenty Foundation Man of the Year–2011 at a small gathering at an elegant luncheon hosted by Eleanor Schlafly, the novogenarian I have worked for nine years and one of the most charming women of any age I have ever encountered;

44) spending Thursday and Sunday afternoons breathing deeply and feeling a sense of exhilaration that leads me to daydream of my past, present and future for hours;  See # 3 & 39

45) a moonlight swim in my own pool;

46) a granddaughter in her  1st communion white dress, with veil, with her eyes cast down;

47) any Michael Connolly novel that features Harry Bosch;

The Black Ice

Harry always knows what to do

48) whenever one of my children or even grandchildren actually listens to me;

49) the innate feeling that somehow God really does love me;



  1. The best known sport issue related to Holy Cross was the Coconut Grove fire when HC beat BC in a big upset. The BC team cancelled their big celebreation at the Grove and ended up saing their lives.

    Comment by jbq2 — September 12, 2011 @ 4:32 pm

    • Yes you are right about the CGF but how many HC students and fans took the BC’s place? Part of the legend of that game was, I think the fact, that the players featured on the ciover of the program wore the numbers 55 and 12. The former was the HC captain–presumably a lineman and the BC 12 was the BC quarterback. Did you know that Holy Cross won the game by 55-12? At least that’s what I have always heard. BB

      Comment by bbprof — September 12, 2011 @ 6:05 pm

  2. Seeing a rainbow after a bad storm

    Comment by tami mitchell — September 12, 2011 @ 6:34 pm

  3. #50 Meeting and holding the hand of Blessed John Paul. It was an overwhelming experience.

    Comment by JOAN SHEEHAN — September 12, 2011 @ 7:11 pm

  4. Nervously walking into the recovery room at Mercy Hospital last Wednesday to see my wife smile, say hi, and reach for my hand after undergoing a three plus hour cranial-neurosurgical procedure.

    Comment by Jeff Stoll — September 12, 2011 @ 8:23 pm

  5. Seeing my family laugh and have a good time at holiday gatherings.

    Comment by Barb Principato — September 13, 2011 @ 12:25 pm

  6. Date Night- watching Lawrence Welk every Saturday night. My mate, 88 years old. sleeps while I watch the show. Eating a piece of chocolate candy. Communion time talking to Jesus. Pax

    Comment by Mary B — September 13, 2011 @ 3:40 pm

  7. Listening to Lito Cortez play the piano at The Don CeSar, St Pete Beach, Florida.

    Comment by Debora Petersen — September 13, 2011 @ 8:06 pm

  8. A belated; HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Great One.
    Seeing the Golden Gate after three 1/2 years thanking Him for my safe return.

    Comment by Jim — September 19, 2011 @ 4:35 pm

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About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at







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