We are agitated. How can fundamentals change and the center hold? Are we just like the “other nations,” whose principles change as different parties gain power? Is Christ still with His Church, or are we on our own now? We are tempted to suffer an agitation that mirrors the angst of those who do not believe in Divine Providence. Regarding climate change, for example: we are afraid of too much rain in California this winter; we are afraid of too little rain. We are afraid of too much heat; we are afraid of too much cold. We are afraid our country will change her fundamental identity after this election; we are afraid we will not change her fundamental identity. We are simply afraid, and very afraid that there is no provident God.
Only my morning hour with Jesus saves me from becoming very afraid. This morning I read these lines from Mother Teresa: “If we really fully belong to God, then we must be at His disposal and we must trust in Him. We must never be preoccupied with the future. There is no reason to be so. God is there. There has not been one single day that we have refused somebody, that we did not have food … we have 53,000 lepers and yet never one has been sent away because we did not have. It is always there, though we have no salaries, no income, no nothing….”
Mother Teresa has articulated the essence of true joy: to know that we have nothing, and that’s OK. We can trust the One who has everything. The joy of simple discipleship is to know that “He leadeth me,” and that a sure and beautiful path is laid out for us, a banquet of grace. The cost of simple discipleship is to follow Jesus, even through Calvary. He leadeth me through green pastures, and sometimes even through the valley of the shadow of death, but He is there at my side, with his crook and his staff, by which he gives me comfort.
The human leaders of the Church, as with every other human institution, will inevitably fail us insofar as they are human. But the Church’s leaders lead also by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and He will never fail us. I used to take joy in the human dimension of the Church, but less and less so. I find my joy, rather, in trusting the divine character of the Church, which is largely invisible: to be a priest who is faithful to his prayers, who smiles at people, who manages his brief life on earth in simple fidelity to God’s Word. I find my joy in following a path that has already been laid out for me, a simple and beautiful path on which Our Lord Jesus and Our Lady Mary walk ahead of me.