When I read this morning’s selection in the Office of Readings for the feast of Saint Gregory the Great, his reflection upon the difficulties that he experienced in his ministry resonated deeply with me. As a religious who once enjoyed the quiet of the monastery for prayer and study, Saint Gregory became Pope during a time when the Roman Empire had effectively collapsed, many Church leaders were in need of reform and the needs of the faithful were great. He summarized his dilemma in these words, “With my mind divided and torn to pieces by so many problems, how can I meditate or preach wholeheartedly without neglecting the ministry of proclaiming the Gospel?” I must confess that I also feel this anxiety often, as do many others in every level of leadership in the Church.
So in times of anxiety and challenge, how can you and I keep our attention focused on the things that really matter? While never easy to do, I often remind myself that this task requires at least two things. First, we need to keep listing for ourselves each day the things that really matter. We can easily forget them in the midst of so many other issues that demand our immediate attention. You and I need to take time each day and bring to mind the people, tasks, and goals that really matter to us. Otherwise, they can easily be forgotten.
Second, we need to take time to sit in silence before the Lord, to ask His help to accomplish what we cannot do for ourselves. The truth is that there are many challenges and issues beyond our ability to address or solve. For example, some of our loved ones find themselves in situations that we cannot help them to escape. Also, we may be facing a challenge that is too great for us to solve alone or even with the help of those around us. In such cases, only the Lord can do what we cannot do. We need to sit before Him in silence and after we have done all that we can, give the issue over to Him. We need to trust that the Lord will do as He sees fit.
At another time in the Church’s life that was marked with many challenges and change, Pope Saint John XXIII went to bed each night and slept deeply. He was once asked how he managed to sleep so soundly. His answer was a simple one. When he went to bed, Pope John reminded the Lord that the Church was His, not John’s and left all the problems of the day at the Lord’s feet, trusting that the Lord would address them in His own way.
I have come to realize personally that Pope Saint John XXIII was a very wise man indeed!
The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos.