Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ
This coming year of 2020, I am praying that I trust in Jesus more and become less of an anxious worrier!
For sometimes, I must confess, I am prone to worry – perhaps too much. I can certainly easily obsess about personal experiences of pain and loss from my past.
And even if I can get beyond such self-absorption, I just as often replace this by excessively worrying about other people!
I especially worry about why bad things happen to good people. In recent years, I have worried (more than normally) about our Church and what it is going through.
In short, it is hard to “let go” and trust! Fear can easily take hold of my heart.
When in such turmoil, the seeming absence of God, can become a “gut level” experience that is hard to cope with because the pain is so intense.
At such times, the temptation is to isolate oneself, withdraw and “put the wagons in a circle” or build “castles with deep moats” around them to protect ourselves – personally or even institutionally.
This year, instead, I hope to remind myself of the wisdom of St Pope John XXIII. “Good” Pope John reportedly found himself worrying late one night about problems in the world and the Church.
Eventually he just turned to God in prayer, simply saying, “It’s up to You now. I’m only the Pope, and I’m going to bed!”
Such trust and “letting go” can only begin – Teilhard de Chardin SJ suggests – when, in prayer, we “accept the anxiety of feeling / in suspense and incomplete.”
A deeper personal trust in God’s “tender mercies” is one “grace” worth praying for daily.
For if we can’t trust God to be merciful to our own worried hearts – it’s highly unlikely we can ever credibly pass on His healing mercy to others.
Br Mark O’Connor FMS is the Vicar for Communications in the Diocese of Parramatta.