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May 06, 2021 238 Emily Shaw, Australia
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5 Ways to Carry On Bravely

Want to change the world?  Here are some simple tips

The lecturer in Church History at our local seminary asked his first-year seminarians to name the best year in the Church’s history. The fresh faced young men, only just embarking upon their vocational journeys, fidgeted in their seats.

As each suggestion was judged incorrect, the seminarians began to wonder if it had been a trick question. Eventually the lecturer conceded that it had been something of a trick because the Church has never experienced a perfect era.

Every age brought its own fresh challenges to the Christian faithful – everything from violent persecutions, scandals, and rifts within the hierarchy, to dangerous ideologies and heretical teachings, to present day secularism.

The Church and her faithful have weathered these storms, bruised but not beaten. Saints and martyrs and holy men and women stood up in the midst of those storms and carried on bravely. And while we might feel as though our present age is bleak, that the Church we love is constantly attacked, persecuted, and betrayed in many ways, we can take comfort in the knowledge that the Catholic Church has withstood it all before. And will do so again.

But as we strive to trust and endure, we can also seek ways to change the world around us and walk a path that leads to sanctification. We might never be recognised as canonised saints, but we can become saints nonetheless and spend eternity with God.  Here are some simple starting points for a journey to holiness:

1.Practice the Ordinary

We might feel the urge to do something heroic but feel incapable of doing anything to strengthen the faith of the world. But heroic feats for Christ is not what most of us are called to.  For many of us, our vocations and apostolates are much closer to home and are on a much smaller scale. Saint Thomas More, a great defender of the Church and her teachings, understood this reality well. “The ordinary acts we practice every day at home,” he said, “are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.”

It may very well be our simple, everyday witness to our faith that influences others, planting seeds in them that we may never get to see bear fruit. Our homes, parishes, and communities are where we can cultivate our faith, the faith of others, and the overall health of Christ’s body the church.

2.Connect with the Extraordinary

The life of faith appears radical to our secular society. Many do not grasp the supernatural and assign religion to the realm of make-believe and fairy tales. But living an authentic Catholic life as befits our individual circumstances takes extraordinary faith and trust in God and, above all, a love that compels greater reliance on Him. Mother Angelica put this very succinctly when she said: “Faith tells us that God is present when we pray, and hope tells us that He listens, but only love makes us continue to pray when darkness, boredom and even disgust fill our souls.”

So, pray, trust, love, and pray again. What might seem like routine spiritual acts, in fact, connect us with the extraordinary—the sublime, supernatural presence of our Heavenly Father; His only Son, our Saviour and Redeemer; and the Holy Spirit who endows us with gifts of awe and understanding.

3.Practice Holy Stubbornness

None of us are perfect and we are all prone to sin, so it goes without saying that we are going to make mistakes. In fact, we’re likely to make a lot of mistakes and often the same mistakes, over and over again. But it is important that we do not give in to discouragement.

Saint Josemaria Escriva spurs us on: “Don’t forget that the saint is not the person who never falls, but rather the one who never fails to get up again, humbly and with a holy stubbornness.” Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and step forward with a holy stubbornness that perceives that the path to sanctification is worth pursuing.

4.Sanctify Society

“Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society,” says Saint Francis of Assisi. To me, this has always seemed easier said than done, given my sinful human nature and the enormity of the task. But just because this seems an unrealistic goal, does not mean that we cannot achieve it. Jesus tells us very clearly that what is impossible for us is not impossible for God (cf. Matthew 19:26).

Make sure you establish and remain faithful to your daily prayer life. Practice the virtues, and undertake a nightly examen to better understand yourself and your spiritual progress.

5.Hold onto Hope

Saint Padre Pio regularly encouraged people to “pray, hope, and don’t worry.” Our world is not perfect. It is often chaotic and riddled with tension. But this must not disturb our spirit.  Padre Pio’s comments on the storms of life are very consoling: “God will never permit anything to happen to us that is not for our greater good. The storms that are raging around you will turn out to be for God’s glory, your own merit, and the good of many souls.”

So, do not lose hope amidst the storms in your life and in the world.  These are the times in which God has placed us, and it therefore follows that these are the times that can make us holy.  We just need to carry on bravely until we come to rest in God’s Heavenly kingdom.

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Emily Shaw

©Emily Shaw is a former Australasian Catholic Press Association award-winning editor turned blogger for australiancatholicmums.com and is a contributor to Catholic-Link. A wife and mother of seven, she resides on a farm in rural Australia and enjoys the spiritual support of her local Catholic community.

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