An Essay on Young Adulthood

Perhaps to all of us who have been through it and to those of us who are going through it now, this image is one to encourage us on the journey. In those moments where we are tempted to say “I have been there,” it reminds us that God always says, “I am with you now.”

I recently had a brief but meaningful conversation with an old friend. We had not talked for months and even now we could only find a few minutes to sit down and chat. We caught up on new jobs and showed each other around our new homes. Both young adults, we had a number of new things happening in our lives.

I have many friends who are going through “transitions,” whether that be into priesthood, parenthood, married life, full-time employment, life in new cities, or new lives back in the same city. With all that transition comes a sense of uncertainty. Did I make the right decision in moving away? In moving back? Am I on the right path?

I have no doubt that most people go through this stage in their life. Most likely, we go through multiple transitions – at the beginning of adulthood, when the kids move out and head to college, when we retire, or when we lose someone close to us or face another unforeseen circumstance. Each transition hopefully makes us more able to face the next.

There is no doubt that most of the time during our life journey of transitions, a few encouraging words goes a long way. But, how often do we look at someone who is having difficulty with something new or unforeseen and say, “I have been there,” then share that often-maligned-yet-all-too-common unsolicited advice about how to get through it?

I do it, and we all do from time to time. We especially like to respond this way with people who are closest to us. We already know them and have spent hours working hard to support them. Our advice, then, should be considered and graciously received.

Is there a way, especially with those who are closest to us, to change “I have been there” to “I am with you now”? We all face transitions and new circumstances that challenge who we are and what we want to become. Sometimes these shake us badly and we find ourselves diving into the sort of depth that forms character, builds or breaks relationships, and gives perspective that forms our future choices.

One of my favorite saints, St. Francis de Sales, in one of his writings, shares an encouraging image of a God that holds us by the hand, matching His steps to ours and happy to walk at the pace we set. Perhaps to all of us who have been through it and to those of us who are going through it now, this image is one to encourage us on the journey. In those moments where we are tempted to say “I have been there,” it reminds us that God always says, “I am with you now.”

-Christian

This was originally published on Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology’s blog, Echoes from the Bell Tower on August 26, 2016

Preparing to Entertain Angels

Out of the three that will be read, this one is my favorite. It teaches timeless lessons that are learned over and over throughout the course of life. In some ways, it is the first reminder to a lifetime of reminders that God is in those whom we encounter every day and that no matter what may come our way, the Lord is our helper and we should never be afraid.

For over a year now, I have been on a journey with my soon-to-be wife planning our wedding Mass and celebration. Although it has been a complete joy picking out the colors of the table linens, taste-testing the food we are to eat, stressing over the difference between white and ivory, and wondering if our bank accounts will ever be big enough to handle the onslaught of overpriced wedding services, my favorite part of planning has, without a doubt, been choosing the readings that will be proclaimed at our wedding Mass.

The second reading we chose, from the Letter to the Hebrews, reads: “Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect hospitality for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.” Further down, the reading continues, “Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, I will never forsake or abandon you. Thus we may say with confidence: The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid.” (Hebrews 13:1-4a, 5-6b)

Out of the three that will be read, this one is my favorite. It teaches timeless lessons that are learned over and over throughout the course of life. In some ways, it is the first reminder to a lifetime of reminders that God is in those whom we encounter every day and that no matter what may come our way, the Lord is our helper and we should never be afraid.

Marriage is a frightening prospect in many ways. First and foremost, when you say your vows you are the most vulnerable you have ever been and will ever be. With all the faith, trust and hope in your heart, you vow to the one you love before God that you will treasure them all the days of your life no matter the trials or tribulations that may come your way.

It is a timeless commitment and one that binds your heart to another. It is a commitment that almost demands courage, fearlessness, and blind trust in the Providence of the One who proclaims, “I will never forsake or abandon you.”

But as Paul’s letter tells us, we should never be afraid to take courage and to trust in the Providence of God, for it is His love that helps us overcome any trial or tribulation. It is the love of God that helps us be content with the many gifts given and not wish away our life on things that blow away with the wind. It is God who is our firm foundation, the foundation that allows us to embrace the type of radical vulnerability it takes to wake up every day and renew the vows you took to cherish the one to whom you’ve committed your life.

Paul teaches all of us that the vows said on the day of your marriage do not bind but free us from fear, worry, distress, anxiety and all of the evils that plague us when we fail to remember the Lord is our helper. The vows free us to love one another fully, openly and without abandon.

They allow us, and challenge us, to never neglect the greatest gift and blessing of all time: the gift that He gave, and continues to give each time we celebrate Eucharist. The gift of His only Son, sent to sacrifice Himself so that we might have life. Incarnate in the flesh, God made Himself in human form and likeness so that we know in His nearness and unfailing love that we will never be abandoned and never be forsaken.

It is in that truth that I take courage and that I boldly proclaim to love and cherish another for the rest of my days. It is from that commitment that I am challenged to open my door to angels and to never be afraid.

-Christian

This was originally published on Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology’s blog, Echoes from the Bell Tower on November 6, 2014.