Two days ago I exited our temporarily closed Pauline Book & Media Center and a twenty-something-year-old woman bounded up to me excitedly and asked, “Do you work at the Catholic bookstore?” I responded with a big smile, “Yes!” She asked, “Are you hiring?”
I replied that we weren’t, and she quickly rejoined, “Do you know anyone who is?” Promising prayers was all I could do, though I wished I could do more. And once again, I was reminded of so many tough realities, this one becoming so very real on the face of this anxious young woman.
Whether we are facing sudden unemployment, bills piling up, sickness and worry—or we’re just stir-crazy with staying-at-home, we are all being stretched way beyond the wildest dreams we could have had three months ago. So many people have been hurled into the unexpected, and yet it’s true: those of us who are not on ventilators have much to be grateful for. Still, it’s as if we have been picked up by an alien spaceship and dumped onto a foreign planet. We are having a hard time figuring out what to do, where to turn, and we keep wondering, “what’s next?”
Stumbling about, I grab onto the Word and cling to it. Psalm 23, a favorite for centuries, helps me pray just as it has for millions of souls in times past. Together, we invoke our God with this prayer:
The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…
I hold on to this good, true, and beautiful Shepherd, who never leaves his flock untended, and I recall one of the most powerful points of this psalm:
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil…
We are in a very dark valley, but we know him who is the Way. As generations of fathers and mothers in the faith before us, we turn to our God for guidance. Our good God will never let us down, and he sent Christ as Savior to prove his own steadfastness in love, up to and including death. His is an unshakable love, an unquenchable thirst for the good of each and every man and woman.
I have a small sign in my room which reminds me, “Joy is tied to faith, the faithfulness of Christ, it is not tied to success, brilliance, intelligence, $$$, personality or the absence of suffering.” I keep that on my wall because remembering the truth of it gave me courage and peace in a particularly dark time in my life. It still does, even in the middle of a pandemic.
At times I am doubtful and weary about my own faithfulness, my own being able to say “yes” one more time; but never am I tempted to doubt the faithfulness of Christ, my good and beautiful Shepherd. He is always faithful and will never, I repeat never let me down. I praise him and thank him, remembering the next part of that psalm:
…for you are at my side.
With every believer on the face of this earth, and with the long line of faithful believers who have gone before us and faced unthinkable trials, I recall Christ’s patience, his goodness to those around him, and his love for each one of us. I ask him to walk with me one more day, and each day, to be at my side. His divine presence gives me courage and I count on his faithfulness, which never ends.
Sr Mary Martha Moss, FSP
First published at pauline.org.