Monday, February 25, 2013

If the whole world...

Let me begin by saying that for me, and I guess for most people, change is difficult.
I like stability.  It is comforting, even when I know that often good things, fresh things, better things come with change.

I feel myself at a crossroads of late.  What should I do?  What do I want to do?  What does God want me to do?  These questions swirl around in my head in an endless loop.  I see what I would like, but how to get there.  That's the eternal question.

I've been praying and meditating on this and more in the rare quiet moments of my day--children under five don't have off buttons, at least mine don't; I know because I checked.

When Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, I was shocked, as was the rest of the world.  I was also sad because his writings and his approach to the Papacy drew me back to the Church.  I am a perpetual student and his way reminded me of all my great professors--I became a "disciple" and I got to know Jesus more personally because of the affinity I feel, and felt, for this Pope.  My Pope.  His extremely strong faith was something to emulate and strive for--especially for someone who doubts everything all the time.  My mind is strong, my faith is weak.  It gets me into trouble.
For me, his pontificate was all about bringing the mind and the heart together-bringing the mind in line with a heart full faith.  A strong mind can lead to a strong faith; it seemed to be his message.  I am on the road he set out for me and I am sad my shepherd will be moving on.

As I let my emotions settle over the course of the days that followed the announcement, I then realized what a gift his decision to step down was to me, and many others.  In his leaving we will be sad, but in his action we have a great example of a faith centred life--a Christ-centred life.  It is faith in action.

I often worry about what others will think, rather than worrying about what Christ and the Church ask of me.  If I say no, will they like me?  I don't go, what will happen?  What will they think?  Jesus should be my barometer, and when I don't check before making a move, I mess up.  I do what I think I should instead of focussing my energy on whatever God-given duties are before me.  For me, Christ-centred thinking makes decision-making easier, but still a challenge.  This is a skill I am actively working on.

Then it occurred to me that the stronger my faith is, the easier it will be for me to step away from being a people-pleaser, and become a person centred on pleasing God instead.  This is something quite obvious, of course, but it really hadn't fully penetrated my mind and heart until now.  I realized that from now on I will remind myself that if I know that I am making a choice that follows the heavenly laws I have accepted--in Jesus' teachings and the Church's doctrines--then I should be secure in my choice and not second guess it.  As I feel I need to make some changes in my life, this comforts me, especially when I think about the Pope's serenity when he made his announcement.  If the Pope can make a decision as monumental as  a resignation and have the whole world, literally, talk about it, but still go ahead in the full knowledge that it is the right thing, then I can decide with a peaceful heart what I want to do next weekend, next month, or with the rest of my life.

Now, whenever I feel like a choice is based on guilt or peer pressure, no matter how small the matter may be, I quiet the guilt monster in my head and I tell myself, "you are doing your duty by God, your husband and your children, everything else (or almost) is a choice not a duty".  If the whole world can talk about the Pope's decision, I can put up with a few wagging tongues.  So if you have trouble with guilt and people-pleasing, you too can tell yourself when the guilt-monster comes calling that "if the whole world...".

Father Barron, from Word on Fire, comments on Benedict XVI 's pontificate
Benedict XVI's legacy

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