October 16, 2022 Essay: Regroup and Recover
Our youth faith formation program, the Interparish Religious Education Program (IREP), is up and running for the school year. In the past three years, the program has taken on a variety of iterations. Each variation of IREP demanded quite a bit of pivoting and thinking outside the box. I am thrilled to report that IREP is back in the classrooms at Saint Ignatius Loyola School and St. Joseph’s School in Yorkville.
As we are well aware, the pandemic demanded the same from all of us: rescheduling and pivoting. The constant change, the uncertainty, and the worry were exhausting in our work and home lives. We need time to regroup and recover from the very burdensome few years we all experienced during the pandemic.
Recovery requires time, community, and faith. Our world, with its access to instant information, does not truly provide instant consolation. Genuine fulfillment requires more—more connection, more community, more faith—and fewer silos. Yet how do we embark on recovering from the burdens of this world?
In 12-step recovery programs, there is a shortened version of the first three steps: “I can’t, God can, I’ll let God.” This may be a pithy phrase, but following these steps requires true humility and faith. Those in recovery recognize the issue, turn it over to God and align their life with God. We too are called to uncover what is burdensome in our lives and welcome the freedom of knowing we need not carry this burden alone. We are called to be humble enough to ask for help. Psalm 122:5 from this Sunday’s Mass promises this: The Lord is your guardian; the Lord is your shade; he is beside you at your right hand. In other words, we can lean into the Lord.
Life is fraught with things we need to heal. Do we have the faith to witness our own suffering? Can we walk into our own recovery by surrendering to God? In this week’s Gospel reading Jesus asks: But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? The Son of Man will observe faith on earth as we ask the hard questions of ourselves: What is blocking my personal relationship with God? What burdens am I carrying alone that keep me from being generous in the here and now? Are there past hurts I could release which would allow me to be present to those around me? Where in my life do I need to let God in to heal my brokenness?
As we ask these questions of ourselves, we begin to recover from the weight of the world and ease out of our own way. A new space opens for the Divine to enter into our being reminding us of the gifts we receive even in the midst of imperfect surroundings or situations. We can recover from the weight of the world. Each time we enhance our personal relationship with God we have the glorious gift of being the faithful.
— Kate Noonan, Director of Religious Education