Posted by: wordofthevine | January 15, 2017

Standing in the Midst of the Storm!

01d58367c1da77af0bb0c08512fc50b9Recently I have made many significant changes in my personal life. I moved three hours away from where I had lived for twenty years and raised my family. My husband and I discerned that I was being called to take a new position directing spiritual care at a Catholic Hospital which meant moving to a new town and even a new diocese. We are keeping two places and commuting back and forth so our youngest can finish high school this spring with his classmates, a separation that seems to bother me more than the senior in high school. I like my job but have questioned God at times. Why now and why here away from my familiar stomping grounds. I can’t see everything that God is doing in and around me, but my earlier experiences of loss and change have shown me that God is faithful to his provision for me. I feel hopeful that this will ultimately deepen my capacity for ministry and for loving others.

Change brings growth, and usually the most costly changes bring the greatest blessings and growth. Without the Cross, we stay comfortably stagnant in the familiar. When our footing changes under our feet, we don’t stand so securely on our own resources/perception.  When we are dealing with the grief that comes with loss, we are more vulnerable which means we can either get stuck in negative emotions or with the right approach become more faithful. If we nurse angry, resentful emotions, for me homesickness for what used to be, the enemy of our souls can work to create division and havoc. However, God can become more a part of our life when we suffer because we know we need him and seek him wholeheartedly without reserve.

The Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa, where we moved for my work, has just announced the final plan for Ministry 2025 pastoral reorganization which involves closing parishes, going from 100 parishes to 31 parish clusters. This hits deep in the heart for since I’ve come the threat of all this has been weighing on minds of so many. Parishes where people have received all their Sacraments along with their grandparents and great grandparents are closing and either becoming oratories for only weddings and funerals or clustering with ten or more other parishes near them.  (My great-grandparents are buried at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, one of the parishes that is becoming an oratory.) People are struggling to stand faithfully together.

Blessed  Father Marie Eugene, O.C.D. a French Carmelite priest who was beatified several months ago offers us key insights into working with the difficulties in our lives so we become holy and the best version of ourselves as people and as parishes. He says the best defense against demoralization is to focus our attention on what we have been seeking through our parishes…greater love of God. Band together, drop, kick and run from temptations to lash out. Turn to God; make an act of love of God which will free us from focusing on what’s bothering us.

Father Eugene tells us that this ability to release our present situation to God and run towards God is something that we grow in being able to do. At first, we make the decision to note our reactions but to exercise our faith in God by telling God how we love and trust in His provision for us.  We do this as often as we need to, to keep our balance. This isn’t over spiritualizing our difficulty but knowing in humility what we have the power to change and what we don’t. We can direct our attention to God, over and over again, so we can move in His Spirit here and now and love those who seem to bring us down.

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