Jesus said to his disciples: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap…Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent.”
I spent seven days in silence leading up to my ordination. As the day drew closer, my heart was filled with anxiety and fear. Would I be a holy priest? Did I make the right decision? Would I be joyful in serving the Lord? I am sure that my thoughts are no different than that of a man or a woman on the night of their wedding? The only obvious advantage I had was that I (along with forty-four others) was ordered to go on a silent retreat for eight days. It ended the morning of my ordination on December 24th, 2003.
What helped me get through the days and nights? What helped calm my anxiety? As each day filled my heart with a little more stress and fear, I decided to do something. Each day I wrote down in my diary a quote on faith, hope and love. It was a miracle how this little act each morning helped get me through the day. For me, quotes on the virtues are like butterflies; they keep me company all day long by gently lingering and fluttering around me.
As you will see below, I took comfort in St. Theresa of Lisieux. From my diary I found the following quotes:
December 16th, 2003: Faith - “Christ throws His seed wherever He wants. Those that do not get involved are looking for guarantees.” Hope - “God cannot inspire unrealizable desires” (St. Theresa of Lisieux). Love - “Love all. Serve all. This is the Christian creed.”
December 17th, 2003: Faith - “There is only one reason why you should believe in something; because it is true.” Hope - “Christ only called sinners to follow Him. The Lord knows me well.” Love - “If I am upset with everyone, then I am upset with God. Forgiveness is the antidote to all of life’s disappointments.”
December 18th, 2003: Faith - “Life is your boat, not your home” (St. Theresa of Lisieux). Hope - “I have no merits, but I trust in Him who is virtue and holiness. God alone will raise me to Himself and make me a Saint, clothing me in His infinite merits” (St. Theresa of Lisieux). Love - “The nature of love is to humble oneself” (St. Theresa of Lisieux).
December 19th, 2003: Faith - “I am about to receive another gift, totally free, from God: to become another Christ.” Hope – “God will never walk away from me unless I walk away from Him.” Love – “Charity covers a multitude of sins” (Proverbs 10:12).
December 20th, 2003: Faith - “Who has been given much, much will be expected.” Hope – “God will never distance himself from me unless I distance myself from Him.” Love – “Where there is no love, put love and you will get love out of it” (St. John of the Cross).
December 21st, 2003: Faith - “I have been crucified with Christ, and I live now not with my life but with the life of Christ who lives in me” (Gal2: 19-20). Hope – Newton said that in Heaven he hoped to find three wonders: those whom he never expected to see; those whom he expected to see; and himself. Love - “If all the Mothers in our world put their love together, it would never contain the love that Mary has for us.”
December 22nd, 2003: Faith - “There is no greater love than this: to give your life for another. A priest gives his life for others.” Hope – “The secret is to live like Christ in prayer, during persecution, in sickness and in suffering.” Love - “All was given to me when I no longer sought them through self-love” (St. Theresa of Lisieux).
December 23rd, 2003: Faith - “What I am about to do for Christ is a response to all that Christ has done for me.” Hope - “What I am about to do you do not understand, but you will one day” (Jn 13:7). Love - “Christ does not look for perfection except in love – a love that keeps on loving.”
December 24th, 2003: Faith - “Go throughout the world and baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I will be with you till the end of time.” Hope – “The seed has been sown. Now, all rests in God’s hands.” Love - “Don’t count the difficulties or sacrifices. Love continues regardless of it all.”
When I look back on these quotes, I realize that all I was doing was reminding myself of the truth of who Christ is; who I am; and how amazing and beautiful this mess is!