As I was sitting in daily mass on Tuesday at St Catherine of Sienna in South Austin, the priest began to talk about the prophet Jeremiah. We’ve been hearing from Jeremiah during daily mass for quite some days now. The priest said that one of the main roles of a prophet was to give us perspective. To paraphrase, prophets give us perspective by stepping outside the norms of a current people or time and looking at things with the wisdom of God, with the farther and farthest-reaching eyes of Heaven.
As the priest talked about our role as prophet today, I recognized a pervasive situation in my own life where I need to be a little more prophetic. This is a summer of many changes and transitions – I am leaving my job to go to graduate school – a graduate school in San Antonio on top of that. This means that my colossal summer to-do list includes, among other things: leave my current job, move to San Antonio, find an apartment and a roommate, find a job, register for classes and navigate the financial aid system to pay for them. That is a lot of change – and a lot of uncertainty.
So I have experienced in a direct and immediate way throughout this whole transition process how extremely uncomfortable our society – and myself – is with change and uncertainty. I realized I did not like having to answer “I don’t know” to all the myriad questions from well meaning people about my transition. Have you found a place to live? Not yet. Have you found a job? Not quite? Have you figured everything out perfectly ahead of time? Not even close. So…shouldn’t you be freaking out or something? Not necessarily.
For, since I can do nothing but inhabit this place of uncertainty and transition every day, I have learned (and am learning) a greater trust in the Lord’s providential way of working out His will for my life. Is not my life in His Hands? Yes, I know it is. Does the Lord not already know how everything will work out? Yes, He does. Does He want to help figure all this out? Yes, He is entirely invested in doing so. So I need not be anxious.
And here is where I see the call to be prophetic – because our society is SO anxious. All the time. Our modern society craves security; it pressures us to present ourselves as if we have our lives totally under control. Immediate answers and immediate results are expected, often demanded. We face the influence of a culture that wants to program our senses to expect immediate gratification and feedback.
To face down this pressure, to proclaim that waiting, discerning, and moving slowly with prudence is necessary – that is prophetic indeed. To declare that we can feel okay in the face of uncertainty, or even with grace embrace uncertainty as a God-given chance to grow in trust and faith – that is true perspective.
After all, as we read from Jeremiah on Tuesday,
“Is it not you alone, O LORD,
our God, to whom we look?” (Jeremiah 14:22)
So when I’m asked all those important and relevant questions about the resolution of this transitional phase, I’m trying to be a little more prophetic with my answer. No, I don’t know, yet – but I’m working on it, and I’m praying about it, and I trust that God has a plan.
I remember quite vividly hearing such a prophetic answer for the first time, many years ago. I was asking a girl a bit older than myself similar questions. She was in a transition phase then, and didn’t know what was coming next. In answer to my question about what she was planning to do next, she said she wasn’t sure yet, she had to “talk with Mary a little more about it.” Her prophetic sentence floored me. Talk with Mary, as in the Blessed Virgin Mary, about it?? She spoke as if it was the most normal thing to do when facing a big decision, and she said it was such peace and security. Indeed, now I know because I live it, that there is no one greater to help us seek the Will of God than she whom first said of His Will, “Let it be done unto me according to Thy Word.” (Luke 1:38)
I will leave you with this little prophetic prayer I’ve been praying pretty much incessantly as of late – it’s called the “Prayer of Divine Providence:”
“You know the way for me, you know the time,
into Your Hands I trustingly place mine.
Your plan is perfect, born of perfect Love.
You know the way for me, and that is enough.”
(written by Fr Joseph Kentenich, Founder and Father of the International Schoenstatt Movement)
It’s an easy prayer to memorize – if I may suggest it! Whenever I’m faced with an unknown question or situation, or I feel the temptation to anxiety creeping up within me, I repeat this prayer over and over – it is a powerful weapon against the pressure of our society and against our temptation to seek security in this world.
P.S. I think Providence must be laughing right now – just as I was finishing this blog, I received some timely feedback on a unresolved question regarding my move to San Antonio 🙂 He knows the way for me, He knows the time!