Reflection by Fr. Frank S. Donio, S.A.C., D.Min. – Director, Catholic Apostolate Center
From the outside, it may seem that transitions in life are easy for some people. What I have found is that for most people they are not easy at all. Transitions are filled with uncertainty, even if the next thing is eagerly anticipated. Being in ministry with young people in some way or another for the last 25 years, transitions are always something that are occurring, even for me. I make no claims that discernment of next steps is simple and straight-forward. It is mostly a few steps forward and some back – twists, turns, and tangents. What I often say to others and have said to myself, God provides.
God provides. Two simple words that speak of the complexity of faith and of human need. What does God provide? In a word, perseverance. Pope Francis offers some good advice for anyone in transition in life:
“Keep following your hopes and dreams. But be careful about one temptation that can hold us back. It is anxiety. Anxiety can work against us by making us give up whenever we do not see instant results. Our best dreams are only attained through hope, patience and commitment, and not in haste. At the same time, we should not be hesitant, afraid to take chances or make mistakes. Avoid the paralysis of the living dead, who have no life because they are afraid to take risks, to make mistakes or to persevere in their commitments. Even if you make mistakes, you can always get up and start over, for no one has the right to rob you of hope” (Christus Vivit [Christ is Alive!], 142).
Of course, what Pope Francis is saying is based off the teaching of Jesus when he says in the Gospel of John, chapter 14, verse 27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”
How do we find this peace that Jesus offers? It is certainly not found in things, in power, in money. It is found in loving service of our brothers and sisters which is a profound way for us to love God. Love of others that expects nothing in return opens our hearts and minds to the peace that God provides. Focusing less on self – What am I doing? Where am I going? What is best for me? – and more on others – How can I serve more fully? Who needs my presence? How can I learn from others what ways of serving are needed?
These are important questions for consideration, but it is important to not become a professional discerner, perpetually pondering without making a decision, trapped in worry and anxiety. As Pope Francis stays in a nice way in the quote above – don’t be frozen, don’t be a zombie, take risks, be hopeful! Remember, God provides.
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