August has always meant Football for me. And maybe it’s just me, but football makes me think about religion.
I am not a sports fanatic, but I have always been fascinated with football. I was at a dinner a few months ago and one of the speakers remarked how football is very difficult to bring down to everyone’s level. This is very true.
Football is one of those sports that force you to go beyond yourself, working harder than you believe possible. The nature of football is fast paced, and the adrenaline that fuels the players makes it almost impossible to hold back. And this is what gets me to thinking about religion. I wonder, in regard to my faith, how much do I put into it? Do I hold back or do I let the spirit completely move me?
Perhaps one of the most inspiring football stories I’ve ever heard happened in 1979. In the second quarter of the first playoff game that year, Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jack Youngblood broke his leg. But he went on to play through the rest of the playoffs and Super Bowl XIV with the fractured fibula. This is perhaps, an extreme example, but one thing is for certain: stories like this one make me wonder how far would I go?
As humans, we are drawn to these kinds of stories and admire those who defy the odds. The competitors in the Special Olympics have conclusively proven that human beings are far more capable than we can imagine of adapting to and conquering their limitations. Watching these amazing individuals reminds me that all of us have untapped potential. If we are willing to give more than we think possible, we can all achieve amazing things.
These amazing accounts of determination, self-sacrifice and commitment, all raise the question, what’s in me? How often do we push ourselves? Do we give ourselves credit enough to realize we may be stronger than we think? How well do we bounce back from adversity. Where do we draw our resilience from? Is it within us, or is it coming from the Holy Spirit?
As we go through life, we must have faith in ourselves, for it is only then that we can begin to understand our charge by the Almighty.
Similar to how these ‘against the odds’ stories inspire us to accomplish great things, the stories of the saints can have a similar effect on our spiritual lives. I have always been fascinated by the lives of the saints. Sometime back I began reading the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowolska – perhaps better known as just Sr. Faustina.
The Divine Mercy is something I strive to understand deeper, as a truth of my faith. As a child, I always found games of quest fascinating. You have a goal, and along the way, you encounter things that help you on your quest. As you search you find more and more items that you can use in times of need. For me, our faith is like this.
Getting back to the Divine Mercy, our faith is about the truths we learn, but even more so about how we use them. The Divine Mercy is important as a truth and as an aid for us on our journey – if we chose to understand it, and pray it. I want to understand God’s love and his mercy. If I can understand why He is so merciful, maybe I can be merciful too.
In reading Sr. Faustina’s diary, I found myself strangely connected to her because I was able to draw some parallels from her life to my own. I think we all find this with many saints. After all, saints are basically ordinary people who are called to do extraordinary things.
Sister Faustina, for instance, came from a very poor family and was the third of 10 children. But even at the tender age of seven she knew that she was being called to a life of service to God. When she revealed to her family her wishes, however, they forbade it, so she tried to put it out of her mind. But in Christ’s first appearance to her, when she was 19-years-old, He revealed that He wished her to follow through on her vocation. Against her parents’ wishes, she left home and began her journey toward religious service.
Sister Faustina’s search to join a convent was not easy. She was rejected several times until she finally came upon the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. And even then she was required to work a year before actually beginning her novitiate.
How often do we follow our dreams, and persevere in the face of adversity? Stories like Sr. Faustina’s show us that there is always hope with God. St. Maria Faustina’s perseverance in the face of adversity, reaffirms that my search, though not easy, will be well worth it in the end.
In life we learn “Nothing worth doing is ever easy.” Most successful people will tell you this. Through perseverance, stubbornness, and of course hard work, they achieved their goals. I believe this is the test of commitment.
As a student of business, I have also always been fascinated by CEOs’ ‘back stories,’ and how they all play out the same way. From their failures CEOs grew and learned the most valuable lesson – never quit. Along their journeys they gained resilience, and they learned a lot about themselves. We are no different.
As we journey we begin to understand how things work and how success is achieved. In the end, we are successful because we remained committed to a dream, no matter what. We ignored those that said it can’t be done, and we put ourselves on a path that leads us to where we wanted to go – to happiness, hopefully.
Faith, Determination, Self-sacrifice
Stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, are almost every saint’s story. In their “moment” they chose to act the way they did. Maximilian Kolbe, Mother Theresa, Pope John Paul II – all of them were quite possibly the most unassuming people, yet their own faith, determination, and self-sacrifice helped them achieve legendary status.
For a moment, let’s think about our own lives. Too often, we don’t give ourselves enough credit. We may not feel worthy, or, may not feel like we have anything to give. As humble servants of God, it’s sometimes difficult for us to see ourselves as ministers of greatness. Sometimes, perhaps, we are not sure where we fit into His plan. I have been on that search myself, and it has led me to where I am right now.
How often do we follow our dreams, and persevere in the face of adversity? Stories like those of the saints show us that there is always hope with God. St. Faustina’s perseverance and determination in the face of adversity reaffirms that my search, and yours, though not easy, will be well worth it in the end.