Havana's youth ministry posted a video July 26 of a smiling Cardinal Jaime Ortega, playing…
Remember, you are here for a reason
If you had asked me what my plans for June looked like back in February, I would have told you: busy. Between driving home to Illinois for a friend’s diaconate ordination, flying to Washington, D.C., for a five-day conference and then driving to Wisconsin for another friend’s wedding — all in a two-week span — it was going to be a crazy month. May, too, was supposed to be its own whirlwind of celebrations, with two (more local) weddings and a wedding shower. Again, beautiful, but crazy.
Then the pandemic hit, and all plans were paused as we waited to see how things would develop.
In the first month of staying home, my roommate and I had a virtual dinner with a friend who was a transitional deacon for our Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. During our conversation, the topic of his priestly ordination came up. At this point, it was too soon to tell whether the diocese would choose to delay the ordination or to limit the number of people gathered. My home diocese in Illinois, too, had the same difficult decision to make. While I was still hoping to travel and see my other friend’s diaconate ordination back in Rockford, Illinois, where I had attended numerous other ordinations, I jokingly told the deacon over dinner that I might be forced to stay here and attend his instead.
In early June, my joke became a reality. One diocese was able to hold an ordination; the other was postponed. And while it wasn’t what I — not to mention many others more closely affected — had chosen, it was beautiful. Seven men were ordained as ministers of God — six to the diaconate and one (my friend) to the priesthood. And despite some of the changes — wearing masks and being in a larger parish to accommodate more people while following social-distancing recommendations — it was inspiring to see these men accept the mission God had given them.
In the midst of celebrating, I forgot that the ordination day was my two-year anniversary of moving to Fort Wayne. Like many things during this time, it had come and gone without much thought. And what I realized was that God had taught me a big lesson in just being present.
Instead of focussing on my previous plans, I was able to enter into the joy of a celebration God wanted me to partake in. Instead of traveling back home, I was able to step deeper into my faith community here in my “new” diocese. I was able to celebrate the ordination of a friend who just happens to be one of the first people I met after moving. And I was able to see others whom I hadn’t talked to in months, including one of the friends who just got married and another who is now in seminary. Once again, I realized that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
It can be easy to fall into comparison with our situations — comparing what could be if only things were different. I see this especially during this time of heartache and unrest, where so many people feel discouraged because they believe there is not much they can do in the space they are given. Their voice isn’t loud enough, or they don’t have the right words, or they want to help with healing but don’t know where to start. It’s easy to compare ourselves to those who appear to be doing more for God, more for others. But we can’t fall into comparison.
Instead, we must enter into our inner rooms — wherever God has placed us — and take time to reflect and accept the unique mission to which God has called us. For some, it might be bigger, like laying down your life for God and his Church as a priest or religious. Others have roles as speakers and writers and public advocates. But for many, it could be raising your children to recognize and respect the image and likeness of God in others, or to invest in a community where you can have difficult but necessary conversations. Wherever you are, know God probably put you there for a reason. Now, all you have to do is find that reason.
Ava Lalor is assistant editor for Our Sunday Visitor and editor for Radiant magazine.