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Bible Reflections View Comments

Change Is the One Constant in Life
By Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, November 18, 2012
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Psychologists tell us that the stress from positive events can have exactly the same effect on our bodies as the stress from negative events. We sometimes overlook this fact and then wonder why we find ourselves getting sick at a time when everything seems to be going well.

Cardinal John Henry Newman once said, “To be human is to change. To be perfect is to have changed often.” Our lives are filled with change, and many of those changes involve endings and death, whether actual physical death or the death of something important to us, part of our lives, the way we define who we are and what we hold dear. No matter how many times we experience changes large and small, they still can startle us. And yet everything we know in our world changes.

All creation moves and changes constantly. The seasons change according to a natural cycle each year. As the earth circles the sun and rotates on its axis, different areas are closer to or farther away from the sun. The changing levels of light and heat affect all growing things, ourselves included. From earlest times, people have noted the changing seasons and arranged their lives accordingly. Even in our increasingly contained and technological lifestyle, we can never completely escape the changing seasons.

So it is with our faith. It’s easy to hear Jesus’s words as the prediction of some cataclysmic end of the world. But the image Jesus uses suggests that the portents will be much more in line with the natural changes of our everyday lives. He talks about the spring buds on the fig tree as a sign that summer and its fruitfulness are near at hand.

As long as we can accept that change is natural, we don’t need to live in fear. The French have a saying that translates to, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” For us, what stays the same is the core of our faith, the belief that God is the “stillpoint of the turning world.”

Today’s reading from the book of Daniel makes an interesting observation: “The wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.” We know, as the original biblical author did not, that this image is truer than he might have imagined. The light of the stars comes from such a great distance that the star itself may have burned out long before its light ever reaches the earth.

The good that we do lives on long after the short span of our mortal lives has ended. We add to the light that brightens our world and brings people closer to Christ who is the true light. Jesus reminds us that we don’t know when the world will end. In fact, we don’t even know the day or the hour when our own lives will end. But we do know that end they will, at least in their present form.

If we’re working each day to do our part to reveal the presence of the kingdom of God in our midst, then what we’re doing today is likely to be little different than what we’d be doing if it were the last day of our lives. As we become more flexible, more willing the move with the inevitable changes of life, we come closer to understanding that end as just another change to bring us closer to divine perfection.


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Katharine Drexel: If your father is an international banker and you ride in a private railroad car, you are not likely to be drawn into a life of voluntary poverty. But if your mother opens your home to the poor three days each week and your father spends half an hour each evening in prayer, it is not impossible that you will devote your life to the poor and give away millions of dollars. Katharine Drexel did that. 
<p>She was born in Philadelphia in 1858. She had an excellent education and traveled widely. As a rich girl, she had a grand debut into society. But when she nursed her stepmother through a three-year terminal illness, she saw that all the Drexel money could not buy safety from pain or death, and her life took a profound turn. </p><p>She had always been interested in the plight of the Indians, having been appalled by what she read in Helen Hunt Jackson’s <i>A Century of Dishonor</i>. While on a European tour, she met Pope Leo XIII and asked him to send more missionaries to Wyoming for her friend Bishop James O’Connor. The pope replied, “Why don’t you become a missionary?” His answer shocked her into considering new possibilities. </p><p>Back home, Katharine visited the Dakotas, met the Sioux leader Red Cloud and began her systematic aid to Indian missions. </p><p>She could easily have married. But after much discussion with Bishop O’Connor, she wrote in 1889, “The feast of St. Joseph brought me the grace to give the remainder of my life to the Indians and the Colored.” Newspaper headlines screamed “Gives Up Seven Million!” </p><p>After three and a half years of training, she and her first band of nuns (Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored) opened a boarding school in Santa Fe. A string of foundations followed. By 1942 she had a system of black Catholic schools in 13 states, plus 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools. Segregationists harassed her work, even burning a school in Pennsylvania. In all, she established 50 missions for Indians in 16 states. </p><p>Two saints met when Katharine was advised by Mother Cabrini about the “politics” of getting her Order’s Rule approved in Rome. Her crowning achievement was the founding of Xavier University in New Orleans, the first Catholic university in the United States for African Americans. </p><p>At 77, she suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire. Apparently her life was over. But now came almost 20 years of quiet, intense prayer from a small room overlooking the sanctuary. Small notebooks and slips of paper record her various prayers, ceaseless aspirations and meditation. She died at 96 and was canonized in 2000.</p> American Catholic Blog Our task during these forty days is to examine our lives in light of God’s Word and see where we’ve allowed darkness to creep in, where we’ve taken the bait of the diabolical fisher of men. It’s time to use the sword of the Spirit to cut through his web of deception, to free ourselves from the net that holds us as prey.


 
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