How do you find God when your world is spinning out of control? - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

How do you find God when your world is spinning out of control?

Where is God when your world is spinning out of control?

That was the theme chosen by a group of pastoral associates and other parish ministers who gathered today at Notre Dame Retreat Center in Canandaigua for their semi-annual meeting. The subtext of that theme included: preparing ourselves to live in the present; where is God in the present; a spirituality of transition; and being a leader in the midst of turmoil.

The group invited Sister Mary Louise Mitchell, SSJ, president of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester, and me to prepare some thoughts around the theme. I know they did not expect us to resolve all the issues or to answer all of the questions raised by the theme. Rather, they asked us to offer some food for thought, to raise some helpful questions and to share our own experience of working with such themes.

I was grateful for the invitation to participate in the program long before today because it was an invitation to think about and pray about an issue which challenges not only pastoral ministers but a wide range of people who find it difficult to stay centered and peaceful. My gratitude deepened when I had the chance to hear Sister Mary Lou speak about the issue. She is a peaceful, contemplative and thoughtful woman. She offers not only the fruits of her studies of the spiritual life and her extensive experience in the field, but brings a strong nursing background into play. Her deft combination of the two makes listening to her an enriching experience.

The group of women and men who gathered for the program was a blessing to me as well. Some I have known for years. A few I met for the first time today. All are eager and generous people who pour themselves out in service to the people among whom they minister. All are people who, like you and me, are always trying to meet successfully the demands of marriage and ministry; to find common ground with and for individuals or groups who are in tension; to find ways of prayer that fit into and nourish their spiritual journeys; to work generously but still honor their own legitimate emotional, spiritual and physical needs.

I spoke. Mary Lou spoke. We had lunch and then reconvened for an hour for some conversation with all present. It was a grace for me to be a part of it. What was said came from the heart and was quite honest. We didn’t come up with any great answers to everyone’s problems, but I do think we were all encouraged by the presence and thoughts of sisters and brothers who share major parts of our experience.

For me, the whole day was yet another opportunity to be in the presence of women and men who so ably broaden and deepen the pastoral care of the church in this day and age. They are truly an inspiration to many of us.

When you meet the pastoral ministers who serve in your parish, please take a moment to thank them for their ministry. Maybe he or she will have a tip for you on how to find God in a world spinning out of control.

Peace to all.

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