January 9, 2019 by eneubauer
When I step back, remove the noise that surrounds me, and allow myself to think I quickly realize that life is pretty incredible.
I have been married for 23 years, have four healthy children, am employed at an organization I love, am relationally close to my sister/parents, and have a group of friends that I sincerely appreciate. I am looking forward to 2019 with genuine anticipation that I will grow closer to God and my family – becoming more spiritually, intellectually, and physically fit.
This being said, it is true that life is not always perfect nor easy. My children do not always listen, and Heather and I have to work hard through the natural speed bumps in any marriage. Outside of family life, I experience the challenges we face in our careers, am not satisfied with the current political climate, lament what secular culture is producing and abhor the scandals within the Catholic Church. (I am keeping my list of concerns brief)
At the crossroads of gratitude towards God for His goodness and the constant adversity, we face in public/private life I am reminded of my need for the Saints. Acknowledgment of faith in Christ, attendance at mass (Church), and the occasional good work do not suffice if I want to stay grounded (spiritually & mentally sound). When the wind and waves of adversity strike us, and we know it will, are we prepared to confront these challenges with confidence?
Here are some thoughts on how Catholics can face adversity and overcome the challenges of life with confidence, keeping Christ as our true north, captain of the ship, anchor of our soul and central figure of our life. Remember, He is our source and solution.
Turning towards the Saints, our example:
I was reflecting of the life of Saint Seraphin of Montegranaro, a Capuchin Franciscan friar. The first thing that jumped out at me is that God uses the “little ones.” He came from a poor yet pious family. His father was a mason and Felix (Seraphin) did not take well to such physical activity. For a time he was hired out as a shepherd which he loved because he was inclined, from an early age, towards silence, seclusion and prayer. He suffered abuse at the hands of his brother yet endured and dreamed of becoming like a desert ascetic.
On the advice of a friend, he sought to join the Capuchins, known for their virtue. He was turned away at first and sent home only to return a second time and accepted into the novitiate. He was not a well-educated man benefiting from the more excellent things in life. However, he is known to have made a comment which I believe is quite important for this discussion, “I have nothing, just a crucifix and a rosary, but with these, I hope to benefit the friars and become a saint.”
A firm foundation develops when we understand and accept that we bring nothing but ourselves before God. He does not want possessions He wants people. God wants your whole heart and undivided attention. This is what Felix offered the friars and God.
Other attributes Seraphin was known for were simplicity, mortification, obedience, and charity towards the poor. This reminds me of St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), a simple, but spiritually deep woman who came from nothing and offered herself to God in obedience. The rest is history – she was a world changer!
It is not what we have that defines us it is our perspective and position. When adversity strikes do we quickly rush to asses and figure out what can be done to FIX the problem? Or do we first position ourselves before an all knowing and powerful God to get his perspective? To surrender? To seek wisdom? These are the things that will last. From this position, problems will be solved.
Finally, Serephin was known for his love of the Blessed Sacrament and to Our Lady. I find these devotions among so many Saints it is hard to ignore. The Lord himself gave us the sacrament of Holy Communion and in it eternal power to change the course and direction of our lives (and that of others). Paired continuously with these is love towards the Blessed Virgin Mary. Along with the Saints her prayers are uniquely powerful as the Theotokos, “God-bearer.” This title, defined by the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D. and refers to the Virgin Mary as the Mother of the incarnate Son of God.
Frequent reception of Holy Communion, the spiritual practice of Adoration, and devotion to Christ through Mary and the rosary are uniquely powerful and can produce spiritual fortitude that enables us to endure the most difficult of situations without losing or compromising our faith.
I write this today as I have made it my practice, in the new year, to add a reflection of the Saint of the Day to my early morning devotions. It has been helpful, inspiring and a reminder of what is important as I seek to grow deeper and stronger in my relationship with Jesus. I hope this helps you conquer adversity in 2019!