By Logan Davis, Resident Campus Minister
“You must believe in truth that whatever God gives or permits is for your salvation.” So said St. Catherine of Siena hundreds of years ago in one of her countless spiritually bolstering letters she would send across Europe to those who needed encouragement. And here I am, feeling lucky that we have this treasure trove of saintly wisdom at our fingertips anytime we might want it.
This quote especially has been on my mind lately, because, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but there’s a pandemic going on out there! Just the way it’s phrased gives the impression that there’s going to be suffering and hardship in the world. “I know it’s kind of crazy, and hard to believe, but the bad things that you don’t necessarily understand are supposed to work for your own ultimate good.” What? This is a concept many people, myself included, don’t like to think about, let alone embrace in our day to day lives.
With the pandemic still raging, it’s been simultaneously interesting and disturbing to see from a spiritual lens all of the different hardships, suffering, and especially new temptations that come along with a society more focused on isolation. Humans are social beings, and I think quarantine has emphasized the yearning we all have for authentic community. The popular meme shortly after everyone started quarantining revolved around people texting their exes. While amusing, I think it points to people having way too much time to think, and not in a good way. Myself included! After so many days of being in the same place without seeing your friends or family, your perspective starts to go a little off the rails! We start to over think our past and present relationships, missing the human connections we once could have so easily.
When all of this mental chaos starts to swirl, the next thing that I personally fall into is rampant comparison to other people, and I think this is common for many others as well. And I’ll say it; this is not from God! We as humans are experiencing an entirely new situation in an entirely novel era of human history, and we need to be patient with ourselves and not obsess over how productive or unproductive, consoled or desolate others are being during their quarantine experience. I have to remind myself all the time, and I would recommend that you do it, too, that God is patient with us and cares about the smallest of things that we do in our day to day lives and can use them to draw us closer to Him. We are meant to be our own unique saints, not photocopies of somebody else.
I mentioned earlier that the bad in our lives is supposed to work for our good. In the pandemic, it can seem like there’s more bad than good, but I wake up every day and try to see how I can use these hardships as a ladder to climb to greater holiness. I’ll leave you with some more of St. Catherine’s words. “If everyone knew how to use the grace God gave them they would benefit from everything that happens to them. This is what I would like you to do whenever something new happens to you, whether you like it or not: think to yourself and say, I intend to get some benefit from this. If you really did this you would be rich in no time.” God, give us the grace to benefit from everything that happens to us!