My goodness I have been busy this semester. The next month in particular is set to be ridiculously crazy – I have two major essays due this coming week, my Honours project for next year needs to be pretty much finalised by the end of the month, and then I have finals in the first week of November! Please keep me in your prayers!
2012 has been a very interesting year so far, and there have certainly been many challenges as well as many blessings in my spiritual life, not to mention work and university. Earlier in the year (probably in about March) I started reading “Dark Night of the Soul” by St. John of the Cross. I’m actually only about halfway through reading it because it is such a rich text that I only ever have to read a few pages before having so much to go off and think about! The book has certainly been vey encouraging, though, especially in helping me realise that it is normal for people to go through times of spiritual dryness and purgation after times of rich and rapid growth.
I won’t pretend that it has been easy being back in Australia since my return from Colorado and Europe in June last year. After having been away for almost 11 months so much had changed for me, and yet my friends and family back home somehow still expected me to be exactly as I was when I left. In particular I have struggled the most with getting people to accept the new approach I have to my faith.
I get all sorts of negative reactions from people, and surprisingly the worst reactions I’ve gotten are from friends my own age who also identify themselves as Catholic. It’s hard to know whether I have just been too harsh in my approach to things, or whether people are simply closed off to hearing or accepting truths of the faith such as the neccessity to attend Sunday Mass or to strive to live lives of virtue. What I do know is that far too often I have fallen short. I have suffered from spiritual pride and I have to admit that lately I have become quite irritable and unloving in certain areas of my life. I am a hypocrite.
One thing I have learnt from this experience is the importance of Christian community, and how important it is for us as Christians to hold one another accountable. That is probably one of the things I miss the most from Colorado. I had friends there that I trusted and loved who would encourage me to overcome my faults and grow in virtue. I wouldn’t have to be the judge of my own actions because I knew my friends would pull me up if I was out of line, and I had their example to follow and aspire to in living a Christian life.
That being said, God has a plan for each of us, and I need to trust that there is a reason He has brought me back here to Australia and in His infinite wisdom and love has allowed me to see my own faults and weaknesses, and experience the struggles and loneliness that I have sometimes encountered. I need to look to the lives of the saints and follow their example in overcoming adversity, and I also have to realise that really, in the big scheme of things my troubles are really quite insignificant.
I also need to focus on the many blessings in my life rather than perceived hardships. In the last few months in particular the Lord has opened a number of doors for me. I have started attending fortnightly Catechesis sessions followed by Eucharistic Adoration at a parish in the neighbouring diocese that are conducted by a very loving and inspiring priest (who is also Australia’s youngest priest at just 25 years of age!). I recently had the opportunity to attend the Australian Catholic Youth Ministry Convention, which was incredible! I have also recently discovered Shrine Time, an hour of Adoration held in the most beautiful little chapel of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary, and I look forward to going to the next one!
Finally, I need to remember that being a Christian isn’t meant to be easy. Jesus didn’t say “Follow me and I’ll make your lives all peaches-and-cream.” No, what Jesus said is that if we wish to be His disciples we must take up our crosses and follow Him, and really, I’m not doing too badly if these are my only crosses at this point in time.