Finding Strength In Times Of Transition
Life is full of transitions. I can testify to this, having been transferred seven times since my ordination as a priest almost 30 years ago – most recently to Evansville to serve as your Bishop. In this season of graduations, students transition from one school to another, into the military or out into the workforce. Many people experience the change from the single life to marriage, and the joys and challenges of raising a family. Some experience the upheaval of having to move from city to city due to work obligations, and experience the difficulties of adjusting to new surroundings and new people. Then there are the transitions of children moving out of the house, of entering into retirement and a whole new lifestyle and of the challenges that come with aging. There is the painful transition that comes with loss of love ones through death. Finally, there is the ultimate transition, from this life to the next. While change can be exciting it can also be daunting as many of our sureties and certainties fall away. Where do we look for strength and support during these often confusing and painful times?
We Catholics have the blessing of relying on the Church. Almost anywhere you go in the world, we can find a Catholic Church. One can go online (www.masstimes.com) and find Mass times at churches around our country or as far as India, Russia and Bolivia. We have the grace of being part of a community that has been present in the world for almost 2,000 years. Through the centuries to our own day, she has overcome persecutions from Nero, Hitler, Stalin and ISIS; the indifference and hostility of a highly secular world; as well as her own internal struggles and scandals. Through centuries of cultural upheaval, the Church continues to abide in the world and to have a powerful impact through her Sacraments; the Scriptures; her doctrinal, moral and social teaching; and through a people of faith, who profess their belief in Jesus Christ and are joined as his Mystical Body here on earth. It is the Church that is the rock on which we can depend when we struggle with changes, losses and struggles of various kinds.
We read in the Acts of the Apostles that what sustained the early Church during times of transition, persecution and turmoil was Breaking of Bread, prayers, the teaching of the apostles and the communal life.
The Breaking of Bread was the term used by the first Christians for the celebration of the Eucharist – source and summit of their and our life as Catholics. We too can find our strength at Mass and in receiving Our Lord in Holy Communion, in Eucharistic Adoration and in the celebration of the other sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
A personal life of prayer is also essential. We can begin the day with a Morning Offering, pray throughout the day in the midst of our many activities and finally at bedtime, make a good examination of conscience and take time to reflect on the day’s blessings. The rosary and other devotions, and reading the Scriptures, lives of the saints as well as other good magazines and books, help feed our spiritual life.
We embrace the teaching of the Apostles when we learn about the beliefs of our Church. There are many wonderful books based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church that explain the rich deposit of faith that has been passed down to us from the first centuries of Christianity. We need to know our faith before we can share and, when necessary, defend it.
Our communal life as Catholics revolves around our parishes as we participate in the liturgical, spiritual, educational and social life of the community. We are also to be good stewards of our time, talent and resources by being involved in our parish – by volunteering to be part of a ministry or organization and financially supporting its work. We also extend our concern beyond our own parish by assisting in the work of Catholic Charities, the St. Vincent dePaul Society, a local Respect Life group or soup kitchen, and of course our Diocesan Church.
Life is unpredictable. One surety in our life is our faith in the Lord Jesus and His enduring presence and work in Church. We give thanks that through the Mystical Body of Christ, we are never alone, both in our joys and in our struggles.