How do you do that without burning out?
(Laughs.) I’m convinced that God gives us exactly what we need for His will in our lives. While I’m sometimes tired, I’m constantly energized by the opportunities I have in my life. I think I’m recognizing that the times I feel frustrated or on the verge of burnout I need to discern and pray about whether what’s frustrating me is God’s will or not. Because I think the times we come up against frustration or feel defeated it’s because, at least in my case, our personal goals are not lining up with God’s will in that situation. I do work at an intense pace, but I’m also totally blessed to do what I get to do and I find it energizing.
How do you recognize the Holy Spirit in your life? How do you discern what’s next?
One of the hugest things is remaining very close to the Eucharist and to the daily word of God in Scripture. While I don’t make it to Mass every day, the daily lectionary is a huge part of my morning prayer and I intentionally make the first moments of my day time with God, to hear His voice. l’m not one of those people who would say I’ve heard an audible message from God. I wish I would! But more so, I find glimmers of encouragement in Scripture…It’s amazing how often the answers are right there for us, and in the readings for the day. So, in the midst of all the business, it’s finding time for silence and contemplation, and being better at quieting my mind. It’s always a learning thing for me.
Also, recognizing the role my family plays in helping me discern things. For too many years, I was not a great marriage partner in terms of going to my husband and really talking to him about discerning big decisions and I’ve really worked at that in the past five years. God is my first stop and Greg is my second. He knows me better than anyone and can really help me assess things. Even great opportunities are not necessarily the right path to take.
A central message of Pope Francis’ visit here in the United States was to “go forth” and “go out” which seems to relate to this concept of “saying yes.”
You know, so many times over that week, I’d think, I need to go back and ponder this to see how this relates to the grace of yes, because he’s really living that and he’s also challenging us to live the same. It’s why sometimes his message is hard for people, especially those of us who live in comfortable situations. We’re sometimes challenged beyond our comfort zones by what we hear him asking us to do. But I think he’s so often reminding us of what Jesus said in the Gospels. Sometimes it’s easier to drop our donation into the Church basket and give financially than it is to be a generous giver in more emotional ways. I heard him time and time again put primacy on the importance on children and the elderly. Every family knows the challenge of raising small children and also the challenge for many of us of being the sandwich generation, where we are raising our kids but also supporting our parents or grandparents as they age. He told us so many times last week how critical the elderly are to the foundation of the Church.
What aspect of Pope Francis or his message has challenged you the most, especially perhaps in light of his recent visit?
It’s his compassion for the poor of our world — either the materially poor or the spiritually poor. Because we see him at every juncture leading us into Christ’s Gospel message to be there for the poor. I am so blessed to live a comfortable existence and I have to ask myself constantly if I’m doing enough to serve those who go without. Am I doing enough to be Christ to those people? In the comfort of my day to day life, am I living in a way to be able to share the gifts we’ve been given? And I think that means material gifts, but it also means being Christ’s love to people who are just desperate for someone to be compassionate to them. We see Pope Francis reaching out so often to the disabled, to the elderly, to people who are on the margins of society, and just being love to them, and I’d like to be that same way in my life.