The Cross shows us a different way of measuring success. Pope Francis
Sometimes I feel like a failure when events and circumstances are not what I had bargained for. The buzzwords we hear today are deafening. Media, internet, and ‘so-called’ friends tell us the definition of freedom and success by their measure. Even in school we are told constantly about success and how free we are. However, I would submit that the fallacies that surround us only take us away from Christ and not TO Him.
I was no different when I was in high school, and university since I was driven to be something great. I put the expectations of society on me more than double. It is easy to fall victim to what others say about us. But, only through experience and a reality check, was I able to realize that it is only what Christ thinks of me that counts. I enjoy the feast days of the Apostles. They have such great stories that came before their greatness in Christ. It was He who lifted them out of their mediocrity. He lifted them out of fear. Who else would have been able to do that? No one.
St. Jose Escriva said, “Don’t you long to shout to those youths who are bustling around you: Fools! Leave those worldly things that shackle the heart – and very often degrade it – leave all that and come with us in search of Love!” Great words from this saint and even though I am not so familiar with Opus Dei, St. Jose's words are still important.
I would love to be able to help others understand the wrong thinking that I had. It is not to say that I know everything now. Only through my attachment to Someone greater than myself, am I helped to realize that there is something greater in this world that awaits us all. I do so enjoy visiting a monastery or convent and I have visited several. I am gobsmacked at their intensity, their simplicity, their love of Christ in their daily lives. They really are lanterns in a dark world. The Lord may have called each monk or nun to live in this convent but each one made the choice to do so. The freedom to answer this call is not something that can be measured by us. God does that.
“God has not called me to be successful. He called me to be Faithful.” Said Mother Teresa
Is There a Method?
How can we be faithful when we are distracted by money, success, and our ruler of measurement? I have taught foreigners English in many places and after the first week, there is always one student who wonders why their English hasn’t improved dramatically after a few days. Even the person who makes the choice to go to the gym and after a short time quits because they have not lost the expected weight. We measure everything. We reduce so many things. We even reduce our freedom. We measure our work, our lives, and our relationships. It is very easy to do. If they do not meet our expectations, then we fall victim to those negative thoughts and measurements.
“Never measure your generosity by what you give, but rather by what you have left.” Said Fulton Sheen
Examples for Us
Fulton Sheen is so remarkable when I read his work. I read about many saints and it so amazing to ponder how their lives must have been. An example comes to my mind after I went to mass on the Memorial of St. Agatha. She suffered terribly for her faith. She accepted God’s will for herself so willingly that it is uncanny how she could do it. She refused to submit to the authorities, and she accepted her fate and did it out of love for Christ. I could list so many examples besides her. The answer goes back to one person – Christ!
"Most modern freedom is at root fear. It is not so much that we are too bold to endure rules; it is rather we are too timid to endure responsibilities.” GK Chesterton
I wish I could have that kind of faith and freedom and strength to follow such greatness as the saints that I have read. I need to be content in the circumstances that the Lord has placed me. I cannot create my reality; but, rather, I must flourish in the reality where Christ has placed me. It is not so easy, but I do not think Christianity was designed that way. I am sure that I am helped by good people around me who continually point me in the direction that I need to travel. Without that help, I think my car would stall on the road to Christ.
“Everything comes from love; all is ordained for the salvation of man. God does nothing without this goal in mind. St. Catherine of Siena