Father John Catoir, Spirituality for Today
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote: “Most of us reflect our surroundings. However, men (and women) with quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened; they carry on in times of fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm.”
I love that quote, but I must admit, I do not always have a “quiet mind”; what’s more, I have never aspired to operate like a clock. Thunderstorms will send me running for shelter, even though they never bother me when I’m indoors by a fireside. But when I get caught outdoors in a storm, staying calm is not an option.
It’s human, at times, to be perplexed and frightened, especially when terrorists and hoodlums threaten your safety or when your health has taken a turn for the worse. Though beset by human weakness, you always seek to maintain confidence in God’s infinite protection and mercy.
Heavy burdens are placed on your shoulders every day, and yet you manage to persevere because of God’s grace. I’ll tell you how this has worked out for me.
There is something that has helped me get through many a storm. It’s called Presence.
This is a mystery that you, as a follower of Christ, have tried to live every day of your life. Jesus lives in you. He is present to your needs. He is your strength and your joy. He said, “Fear is useless; what you need is trust.”
Taking him at his word is something we all try to do. It’s our mission in life to live this mystery. St. Paul put it simply, “I live, no not I, but Christ lives in me.”
The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” attempts to explain this mystery (in paragraph 795) with a quote from St. Augustine, “Let us rejoice then, and give thanks that we have not only become Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp this my brethren? Marvel and rejoice, for you have become Christ. He is the head, and you are the Body, together you make up the whole man.”
Down through the centuries, Christians have maintained their dignity and carried out their mission in the face of trials, hardships and persecutions. Their deep faith has sustained them, and led them out of the darkness.
The Lord often stepped in to do for you what you could not do for yourself. Life is marvelously improved because of the Divine Presence within us. Through his Presence, Jesus gives us the wisdom that makes hope possible. The virtue of hope is defined as an expectation with certitude.
God loves you. You have the right to expect the best from your heavenly Father. You may not always be squeaky clean – none of us is – but you belong to him. You are his child.
God’s love empowers you to stay calm in the storms of life. It is possible to focus on his Presence within you. His Presence will empower you to bring peace, hope and joy to your children and to all those whom you love. And it all begins by staying calm when you feel like running away.
“Then, if you spend yourself in behalf of others … then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday” (Isaiah 58:10).
Father John Catoir, the former president of the Catholic Press Association, received the St. Francis de Sales Award in 1993 for outstanding contributions to Catholic journalism.