By Monsignor John Sandersfeld
“Do not fear. I am with you. I will strengthen you, and help you.”
Catholic Cemeteries acknowledges that we are living in a world of difficult times – social injustices, violence, wars, poverty and natural disasters. With these often comes loss of life. While Catholic Cemeteries recognizes grief in the loss of loved ones, there are other losses, difficulties and challenges we face.
Difficulties are always present.
Can we believe that God is near to us, as a close companion, in our pain, our sorrow and our grief? That God wants to be known to us and give us peace? That God holds us and our loved ones in tender care? All creation constantly yearns and groans, yet the Spirit is at work in all and especially in us, interceding for us before God.
Difficulties can be both signs of danger or gifts. They can be like swamps of quicksand which suck us into ourselves, into darkness, fear and anxiety. Or they can be gifts – filled with possibilities and new beginnings, opportunities to discover the gift we are and the gifts God has given. We can get stuck in rehearsing our past failures and judgement of others and ourselves – burdens of the past – and thus block the gifts of the present experiences.
The difficulty is not the threat – the problem is our response. Difficulties can be old friends or surprises. Some can blind us to its issues and sap us of energy, so that we repeat behaviors which only prolong or depend the difficulty, the pain and hurt.
My reaction can be a pattern of survival – just get me through whatever stands in my way, or a pattern of distraction and denial (sometimes compulsive) – a pattern of fighting back to destroy the cause of the difficulty or suppress my emotional whirlpool and return to past ineffective solutions.
Stop and listen. God waits on us.
I’ve found that I have to listen well with my whole heart, mind and Spirit. The Spirit is alive in us, given by God as GIFT. To open myself to God’s Spirit is to invite God into my difficult experience. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his/her house and dine with him/her and he/her with me.” (Rev 3:20) Christ will come. He just needs to be invited.
Ask yourself …
What it is that I experience today? What is God inviting me to see, hear and experience? Am I willing to listen to the voice of the Spirit through prayerful conversation with God, or through a privileged conversation with a friend or a small community of God’s people?
Recount your blessings daily…
At the end of the day, I’ve found that I am better if I open myself to recount the blessings of the day, the gifts given by God, and, with Christ, give thanks. Hour by hour Christ will increase in me so I am able to know myself better and find a much better way.
“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is still near.” (Is 55:6) God’s Spirit will direct us to the source of our strengths – God’s unconditional love, compassion and care.
Having Faith During Difficult Times
October 1, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
How has faith helped me at difficult times to find Jesus as the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE? How have I come to know my own giftedness and that of others, and live life more fully in the joy of the Kingdom?
For more information, call Kathy Fanger (650) 428-3730 x508 or visit www.ccdsj.org.