Happy Spring! Happy Easter! Those two wishes always come at the same time of year, as we celebrate the rebirth of nature and the Resurrection of Jesus. Unless you attend the University of Miami, you probably experienced more than your share of frigid days this winter. Even Texas had a blizzard! All the while, we waited for the first signs of spring: flowers in the yard, leaves on the trees, and grass under the melting snow. But we know that spring comes in its time and not ours.
With the arrival of spring comes Easter. For Easter, we look East, to the rising sun, and to the Rising Son. After our experience of Lent, when we sacrifice to learn what is truly important in life, we come to the joy that is the Resurrection. How many times have we wished that Lent would be over so that we could experience the joy of Easter? But God asks us to go through Lent to arrive at the blessing of Easter. Easter, like spring, occurs in God’s time, not ours.
As you read this, we are all experiencing the end of our first year of COVID. Chaminade,
Kellenberg, and St. Martin’s closed on March 12, 2020, fully expecting to be back to school the next week. Then, we realized the reality. Your colleges closed, and you moved home. Chaminade, Kellenberg, and St. Martin’s closed for the remainder of the school year. Life seemed to stop. We all wished that it would be over and saw no end in sight. But as the poet Virgil said (although not in a Christian context), “Dabit deus his quoque finem.” God will bring an end even to these things. But that end comes in God’s time, not ours.
The Resurrection is the culmination of the story of salvation, begun when Adam and Eve turned their backs on God. One poet says of Adam’s wait that “four thousand years thought he not too long.” Israel spent centuries waiting and hoping for the salvation promised by God. Then, as Paul writes, “when the fullness of time had come,” God sent His Son to save us.
What do spring, Easter, and COVID tell us about our spiritual life? They remind us of the need for patience. We cannot force the weather to warm; we cannot force COVID to end; and we cannot force God to our will. Pope St. John Paul said, “If an ear is to grow or a flower blossom, there are times which cannot be forced; for the birth of a human being, nine months are required; to write a book or a worthy piece of music, years must often be spent in patient searching. This is also the law of the spirit.
. . . To encounter the mystery takes patience, inner purification, silence and waiting.”
Have you ever gotten to the end of Lent and felt that nothing had changed? That you were still the same person you were before Lent began? I have often joked that I could record one of my confessions and replay the recording each time I enter the confessional. It is so frustrating that nothing seems to change, but we must remember, as St. James said, “Consider the farmer who patiently awaits the fall and spring rain.”
For the farmer, something is going on in the earth. The seed grows, we know not how. And the same is true of our spiritual life. Your spiritual life has grown over these years, even if you have not noticed it. You are not the same spiritually as when you entered Chaminade, Kellenberg, or St. Martin’s.
Have you ever seen a young relative after a few years and realized how much he or she has grown? If you see that person every day, you do not notice the growth, because it is gradual, but it is noticeable after a prolonged absence. Our spiritual growth is gradual, but continuous, if we allow God to touch us. It will happen in God’s time, not ours.
Even the Apostles, after seeing the Risen Jesus, go back and hide in the Upper Room. If they can backslide after seeing Jesus, can we not be patient with ourselves? We are seeing the signs of new life. We see the birds return. We see the flowers bloom. We see that the vaccination program is underway. We see businesses and restaurants reopening. And we should see signs of new life in our spiritual life. Sometimes this growth is small, but it is there.
As you go through your college years, allow God to speak to you. Allow Him to tell you what He is calling you to. Let that seed of a vocation grow, just as the seed grows in the ground. Let God let you know what He wants of you. And be patient. Some things take a lifetime.
May God bless you this Easter,