Made for Communion, Not Stress

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Photo by Katie Treadway on Unsplash

For being so close to the end of this semester, I spent a remarkable amount of time this weekend, uh... not writing final papers.

On Friday night, I stayed over at my sister Lizzy's place, where we indulged in pizza and frozen yogurt and favorite childhood films (The Swan Princess and The Princess Diaries, in case you were wondering). I didn't make it back to my apartment until about noon yesterday, since we spent Saturday morning taking a leisurely 3ish-mile walk through Lizzy's neighborhood (which culminated in a stop for coffee, of course). I went to Mass last night and then out to dinner with two good friends. And earlier today, I met Lizzy for lunch at one of our favorite restaurants before going to see a movie together.

I'm not ashamed, because I wasn't procrastinating. I did manage to meet my homework goals for the weekend in between all of those things, after all. Instead, I was prioritizing.

We talk all the time in modern society about making time for things that matter, but how often do we actually do that when stress takes over? How often do we stop to remember that we're alive, not necessarily to accomplish all the things, but because we were made to love and to be loved?

I've been thinking a lot about this recently. It feels so counterintuitive to make time for people when there are just so many things to do! But this isn't another one of those posts telling you not to be so busy making a living that you forget to make a life, or whatever that saying is.

This is me wanting to remind you (as much as I need to remind myself!) that stress is not from God.

Exhibit A:

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?" (Mt 6:25-27).

What is from God? 

The desire to grow in communion, with God and with one another. 

I just love the way The Catechism of the Catholic Church begins: "God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness, freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength."

God made us to love Him. So, if you're feeling stressed, the best thing you can do is draw closer to your purpose by seeking God. Go to daily Mass. Spend an hour in Adoration. Double up your morning prayer time. Speaking from personal experience, God always seems to multiply my time when I give it away to Him, but you shouldn't do these things just because they'll help you cross off everything on your to-do list. Do them because God made us for communion with Himself.

Secondly, God made us for communion with one another. Earlier this month, I attended the Lux Conference hosted by Lisa Cotter and Leah Darrow. In her second talk, Lisa outlined five benefits of community, saying that living in communion with others is necessary because it 1) builds holiness in that we can push each other to become our best selves, 2) facilitates the making of disciples, 3) keeps us hopeful, 4) models Jesus' method of compassionate connection and service, and 5) allows us to support each other in times of suffering. 

God did not make me to stress out about graduate school. God made me for Himself and for others.

So I'm going to continue to be intentional about the time I spend with others, and that might come at the expense of getting other tasks done. And that's okay. 

In fact, it's more than okay. It's what I was made for. 

Peace Be With You

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

“Peace be with you” (Lk 24:36).

When Jesus issues this by way of greeting in today’s Gospel, I can’t help but be surprised by its startlingly casual, yet deeply moving, delivery.

“Peace be with you.”

As natural as the “hello” we might expect if this were anyone else.

As commanding as “Let there be there light.”

It’s not presented as much of an option, this peace. Or really, any option at all. It is given to us. And are we really going to reject a gift from Jesus?

...Except I kind of do. All the time.

A natural-born ruminator, prone to overthinking, indecision, and worry, I would not consider myself an innately peaceful person. But peace, as Jesus reminds the apostles (and me) in today’s reading, is something I have already been given.

I don’t have to search frantically for it, or fill my prayers with urgent pleas for it. I need only pray for the wisdom to claim what’s already mine.

On Easter Sunday, the priest asked my congregation if we truly believe that the Resurrection is our inheritance, too -- that we have been redeemed to spend eternal life with God, even though our earthly existence should someday fade. If we do, he said, it should change everything about the way we live our lives.

I think he was referring to this concept of peace when he said that.

If we believe the Resurrection is true and, moreover, that it is our inheritance, we should be able to live our lives in the state of peace that comes from knowing that we will be happy forever with Him in eternity, despite the suffering we might endure here.

Should be able to. I’m still working on it, though. ;)