theROCK

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? 

Overwhelmed

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Peace be with you! I am learning the word that is coming across everyone’s lips right now – overwhelmed. Who knew life would look like this? No one knew. I guess this is a reality check for all of us. We really shouldn’t take the work we all do for granted. We all work with one another, together, to help carry the load. This is making us realize how much we need one another. 

I pondered that word “overwhelmed”. When we are overwhelmed, we are also so many other things like worried, anxious, afraid, agitated, and maybe even angry. My daughters like to say “stressed” as a synonym for “overwhelmed”. Being overwhelmed is a natural response to being overstimulated especially when we are inundated by responsibility. You are all being overwhelmed. We will all be overwhelmed until we find our rhythm. If you haven’t set a family
schedule yet, please do, it will help. Here are some additional suggestions for how to defeat being overwhelmed from imom.com.

Pray. Only your heavenly Father knows everything you’re facing in a given day and how it’s making you feel. And He cares. Spending a little time each day clearing your heart and mind and talking it out with Him is a sure-fire way to get back on track.
Exercise. The release of endorphins that comes with physical exercise is a great antidote to stress. When you get wound too tight, go break a sweat! It’ll help you sleep better, too.
Call a friend. Sometimes we just need to talk it out, to vent, or to worry out loud for a second. A wise friend can offer a valuable perspective on your situation and can tell you when you’re
making a mountain out of a molehill.
Channel the energy. Sometimes, when there’s a larger problem looming, the nervous energy created can be put to good use. Try tackling that overstuffed closet or weeding a flower bed. You’ll get something accomplished rather than sitting and stewing.
Soak. There is something positively therapeutic about a hot bath. Even if you think you don’t have time, fill up the tub after you get the kids to bed and just be for half an hour. If you can’t stop the list of responsibilities from rolling through your head the whole time, thumb through a magazine for a diversion.
Count the blessings. Oftentimes, our state of mind is a matter of whether we take a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty approach to life. Sure, the water heater is broken, but you live in a nice warm home where hot water is a regular luxury and will be again once the repairman gets by.
Break it down. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. When the job (or jobs) facing you seems too big to handle, break it down into smaller tasks or phases, and put them in priority order. Then, focus on the first small task as if the others didn’t exist. Say “no.” It’s perfectly acceptable to turn down a request to volunteer or serve when you’ve reached your limit. There is an infinite amount of need in the world, but not every need is one that you’re called to meet. This is tricky for capable women, because when people know you’re a “doer,” they’ll pile on the work. We promise you, if you can’t chair the fall carnival at school, someone else will. The world will continue to turn. Trust us.
Call in reinforcements. If you have a particularly crazy week coming up, and your parents or in-laws are willing, let them help you out. In-town relatives or friends would probably be happy to drive carpool or pick your kids up from a couple of activities to give you some breathing room. Sometimes we don’t have simply because we don’t ask. Lean on your better half. When you’re feeling stretched to the limit, share your heart with your spouse. Together, you may be able to come up with a strategy to redistribute some tasks or
eliminate some worries from your life.
Check out. Occasionally, a person just reaches her limit and has to come up for air in the middle of a busy day. Leave your desk to go for a quick walk around the building, or throw your kids in the car and just go for a drive. Sometimes, all you need is a change of scenery.
Laugh. They don’t call it “the best medicine” for nothing. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed simply because we take ourselves and our lives too seriously. Learn to see the “funny” in your situation and chuckle—it’ll help.
Get comfy. Sometimes the clothes that we associate with certain pressures—like a career—seem to carry the tension in their very fibers. Come home and trade those control-top pantyhose for something you can breathe in. Literally.
Write it down. Lots of people find that journaling about their feelings and fears is helpful in that it helps them organize their thoughts and gives an outlet for expression.
Turn on the tunes. Research shows that 30 minutes of classical music has a calming effect similar to taking 10mg of Valium. Find some soothing music to take the edge off and help you relax.

I also wish to add that you should communicate that you are overwhelmed and allow your children to communicate that need as well. Communicate your need to take a break. Allow your children to communicate the need to take a break. Honor the need. Above all, remember that you are human. You can slow the pace of life. You are in control of what is in your space. If you like something, go with it. If you don’t like something, change it.

in Faith

Gifts of the Holy Spirit

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We all know the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (maybe!). They are Wisdom, Understanding, Fortitude, Counsel, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord. These gifts have been given to all of us. That first Pentecost event was not a one-time deal, it happens daily as we strive to live our faith in service of others. The good works that we do cannot be done alone, they can only be done with the help of the Holy Spirit.

In one of his homilies, Fr. Mike Ignaszak suggested we pray for one of those gifts each week. Just think how different our world could be if we took the time to pray for each of these gifts for a full week. For example, if for one week we prayed for fortitude think of what courage could fill our hearts to proclaim the gospel, or what strength we might have to invite our friend back to Mass or introduce them to Jesus!

This might be a good seven-week reflection or spiritual project, praying for a different gift of the Holy Spirit. Just imagine what graces could flow from such prayer!

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