“The most beautiful Creed is the one we pronounce in the hour of darkness.” St. Padre Pio
I travel a fair bit. I seem to end up in places with very high mountains – Western Canada, Switzerland, and northern Italy. All three are not easy places to go for a leisurely walk. The ominous mountains in all three places are intimidating to say the least. My friends are much more fit than I am but I do not give up so easily. The daunting task of walking up those mountains on day hikes was not easy. But, once finished and having come back down, I realized it was a great accomplishment. Those moments of difficulty bring me to events in my personal life. I had time to think and reflect and that is what the mountains can do to a person. I think of challenges that I experienced and wonder, “How did I manage?” We often think this is beyond our capabilities.
Thus, if the whole world were to crumble and come to an end and all things were to go wrong, it would be useless to get disturbed, for this would do more harm than good. Enduring all with tranquil and peaceful equanimity not only reaps many blessings but also helps the soul so that in these very adversities it may manage better in judging them and employing the proper remedy. St. John of the Cross
I am not the most politically astute person. When I was younger, I was fascinated by politics. That faded quickly through university. Even watching the news became burdensome. With the events unfolding in Ukraine, I watched a bit more. Pope Francis asked us to fast on Ash Wednesday this year to pray for peace. I was motivated to pay attention a bit more. I saw the video link of Zelensky, the Ukrainian president speak to the European parliament. I was fascinated by the courage he had in the face of such adversity. How often are we afraid in difficult circumstances? For me, almost always. Christ was afraid in the Garden of Gethsemane before his Crucifixion. I meditate on that often.
“A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, and must empty ourselves. Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than your weakness.” Mother Teresa
I was bullied sometimes when I was in school. I didn’t know how to defend myself until later. I remember a couple of incidents that happened that have been burned in my memory about those days. Now, I am a much different person. I have much more confidence and, not that I can overcome any challenge, but I have more resilience than I did. Some of that comes with age but much of that comes with faith in Christ. We need to face our challenges directly and know that Christ is our anchor. He is our rock. There are times we are exasperated and totally exhausted – both physically and mentally – that we do not know how to continue. But Christ has much more confidence in us than we know. His love is greater than our fears.
“At this point I have nothing left, but I still have my heart and with that I can always love.” Blessed Chiara Luce
Such simple words resound so greatly in my heart. Obstacles, challenges, difficulties can be so overwhelming. We cannot despair because it is too easy. It is the easy way out. I visited Sagrada Familia Church in Barcelona. The many cathedrals I have seen in many countries are amazing. However, how many of those cathedrals were designed and built by someone who probably did not ever see it finished? Probably more than we know about or realize. The beauty of challenges is the closeness of the Lord that helped us along the way. He gives us the energy, the fortitude and endurance when we suffer. This year, for Ash Wednesday, I tried very hard to remember those who are suffering. The Holy Father asked us to remember this during our fast.