Wisdom for Challenging Times from the Catholic Tradition and the Great Saints of March

My heart goes out to all those struggling in these challenging times, especially the elderly and those who are experiencing unhealth and anxiety as a result of the Coronavirus. Certainly, life as we know it has been significantly altered as a result of this global crisis. Notwithstanding the seriousness of this pandemic, our Catholic faith provides the impetus and the opportunity to take a step back to glean the wisdom from a two-thousand year tradition that has traversed the epochs of history and witnessed just about everything that human nature can endure.

I have had more time for reflection as I am in the midst of a four-month sabbatical in south Texas. I am actually writing this blog while outside, listening to classical music. I recently joked to priest friends that a sabbatical, especially in my remote location in south Texas, may be the ultimate form of “social distancing.” At any given time, I see from my writing perch armadillo, foxes, deer, and plenty of other wildlife.

More than the consolation of the beauty of life that surrounds me, I am consoled by the truth and wisdom of my Catholic faith, and the nearness of God. During my sabbatical and recently, I have been reflecting on the importance of trust in God. Trust in God borne of faith is critical to our health – spiritual, emotional, and psychological. What is the basis of our trust – Jesus Christ – the incarnate son of God who entered our human nature to save us. Those who prayed Evening Prayer today were encouraged, and challenged, by these words from Psalm 125: “Those who put their trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, that cannot be shaken, that stands forever.” If you are struggling with trust in God at this time, pray for this grace. God will answer you.

In this great season of Lent, we stop to celebrate in the month of March important Catholic saints whose lives provide wisdom for us in these challenging times. Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Patrick and in the next week, the feasts of St. Joseph and the Annunciation of our Lord. Along with Patrick, Joseph and Mary manifest one characteristic that is indispensable to the life of faith – trust in God. Mary’s trust in God’s Word prompted her Fiat, which ushered in a new season of grace for humanity. Joseph’s trust in the challenging message from God’s Angel led him to take Mary as his wife and to journey to Egypt to safeguard the new life entrusted to his care. And Patrick’s trust in God led him back to Ireland, the place of his captivity as a youth, to evangelize the land that had once captured his freedom. St. Patrick in turn captured Ireland by his trust and faith in the Lord.

For these great saints of March, we know that their faith was real, their trust in God strong and their reliance on God’s grace a source of vitality in the midst of challenge. This can be true for us as well in these difficult times; these times of uncertainty. We have every reason to trust God – God created us and breathed his very being into our souls. God entered into our humanity in the person of his son Jesus Christ and died for us so that we might have life. This same God is with us at this time. We are in God’s hands – a God who loves us beyond our imagination. As we continue our journey of faith together, this is no small consolation.