by Sister Mary Lucy Astuto

Don't be discouraged

      We are mid-way through Advent now and therefore, mid-way through our preparation for Our Lordís Birthday.

      As we look over the past two weeks, we may note that our good intentions have remained such - good intentions and that our actions exude flawed successes. Perhaps we had planned to pray more and make more sacrifices, but despite our good intentions and minor successes, we have not accomplished what we had hoped.

      I am reminded of something Our Lord said: "Even the just man falls seven times a day." I think of St. Joseph when I think of a "just" man, and if he "fell" seven times a day, surely one cannot be surprised at himself if the best of intentions have not revealed equally good accomplishments.

      The important thing is not to get discouraged and not give up. God DOES look at our good intentions and knows how weak we really are. We must keep in mind that there is always less shame in falling than in failing to rise. We must keep getting up. We must every day keep trying even though we sense our own weaknesses deeply.

      Discouragement is a very frequently-used tool of the evil one. If the devil can get people to be discouraged, then he can get them to "give up" on doing good.

      There is a saying: "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." We have to be focused. We have to keep our eyes on Jesus and keep going toward Him and not let our failures discourage us.

      When God willed to come to earth as an tiny, weak baby, part of the reason was and is to sanctify every aspect (except sin) that encompasses human experience. Our physical and spiritual weaknesses have been made up for by Our Savior. He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly.

      We must be reminded that we cannot save ourselves. We are totally and completely dependent on the Mercy of God. This is where TRUST comes in and the ACT OF HOPE many of us memorized as children: O, my God, relying on Your Infinite Goodness and Promises, I hope to obtain the pardon of my sins, the help of Your Grace, and life everlasting through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and my Redeemer. Amen.

      Trust, however, doesnít mean we give up trying. Good-will is necessary as part of our struggle.

      So start again. The only moment that matters is the one we are in right now. The present moment is a gift - thatís why it is called the PRESENT.

      We have two more weeks to prepare for Christmas, but the only moment that matters is the one you are in right now. Tell God you believe in Him, hope in Him, love Him and are sorry for all of your sins. Then proceed to live totally in the NEW moment you are in. Love God in this moment, the future will take care of itself. God bless you!

December 1997