theROCK

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in Joy, Trust

Starting from Zero Again and Again

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This year, due to the coronavirus, we had to wait until the gradual reopening process allowed us to celebrate our Baccalaureate Mass for our eighth grade class. Even with the Mass, attendance was limited to parents only. As I thought about the limitations we are working under, and my belief they are here to stay for an extended period of time, I was contemplating what the average Catholic psyche is right now. 

This tragedy of the pandemic, has unfolded like a slow moving accident. If an asteroid would have hit our planet, we would have all responded quickly and in unity. But with the nebulous spread; broad, yet unsubstantiated restrictions, and unproven reopening, I am not sure what everyone is feeling. In a recent poll taken, well over half of Catholics do not yet feel comfortable attending public Masses, even with the accommodations. The haunting question is when will they? I borrowed the title of this reflection from an article I read a while back. It was from a young missionary, who described her experience of learning Spanish in Bolivia, re-learning the dialect in Peru, and having to learn administrative skills in her new job. She remarked on how she had to adjust to starting over again and again.

Maybe that captures our feelings best. In this atmosphere, more than ever, we ask ourselves, is God in control? If we answer ‘yes,’ we approach each day with confidence and joy. If we answer with doubt, we approach each new day with fear and trepidation. This young missionary put her complete trust in God in a new country, with a foreign language, and an insufficient skill set. She now has friends, speaks the language, and leads with confidence. Our situation is not even near as complex, can you put all your trust in God, starting today? 

Anger vs. Patience

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I am finding myself angry these days. I don’t normally make it a practice to be angry as it is, in my mind, a wasted emotion. Good rarely comes of it. However, I am angry. When I have a moment, I try to get at the core of what is angering me. I think it is the enormity of speculation surrounding us. Speculation that is taken as fact. Speculation leads to gossip and rumor. I find these things very dangerous for a person’s psyche and mental and emotional well-being. There is very little right now that is making sense to me; fact is blurred, logic has been lost, contradiction is the norm. I try to stay the course – essentially lowering my head and moving forward with what facts are in place –and do what I need to do. Speculation is driving me nuts! I am hanging on to what isn’t changing to keep me sane and to stay grounded. My heart hurts. My head hurts. I’ve had enough of this change.

While I could just stop there and wallow in my own pity, I’m not going to. Anger is a vice. It’s corresponding virtue is patience. I am, we are, being called to virtue. Patience just happens to be one of the virtues that is hard for me. I want things done yesterday. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense why this situation is angering me. I want to get on with it, and I can’t. I need to have patience. Patience with God’s plan. Patience with God’s time. This all leads back to the
concept of total surrender. Just when you think you are there, you are not there. I went to one of my spiritual sages, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, to put myself back in check. I found this nugget:

To surrender to God means that we offer him our will, our reason, our life. We do this in pure faith, even if our soul is in darkness. Truly, trials and sufferings are the surest test of blind surrender. Surrender is also a sign of our true love for God and for souls. If we really love others, we must be ready to take their place, to take their sins upon ourselves and to expiate them through penance and continual mortification. We must be living holocausts for those
souls who are most in need. 

The Path to Life

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“Lord you will show us the path of life.” This is the official refrain of today’s Psalm. It might be slightly different than what was sung, but if you look up the readings for today, this is what you will find. And what a beautiful, necessary refrain of hope we are given today!

The world is in trouble. We are all faced with struggle we could not have imagined. Jobs have been lost. Healthcare coverage lost. People are sick. Many have died. We are all going stir crazy stuck in our homes, ready for life to “return to normal.” We want, oh Lord, that sense of security and ease we had before the pandemic. We want to embrace our loved ones. But we are trapped in a cycle of insecurity and instability as the world battles to understand the nature of this virus and how best to respond.

But the Psalm today reminds us that our security is not in the world. Our security is in God. Lord, YOU will show us the path of life, not money, not prestige, not a bolstered economy or a miracle cure (important though those are). You, God, and only you are our security. You alone give us stability and peace.

The Psalmist goes on to say: “I bless the Lord who counsels me; even in the night my heart exhorts me. I set the Lord ever before me; with him at my right hand, I shall not be disturbed.”

In this time of great trial, suffering, and inconvenience, let us turn to the Lord as our only refuge. Let this time of instability remind us that God alone is our rock. With him fighting at our side, nothing can overtake us.

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