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Life-changing Lessons Part 1: Patience, Timing, and Prayer

It's been a while since I last posted. I've been meaning to get this thing updated for some time...but there is so much going on. I have a sneaking suspicion that friends and family read my I will keep some of the reasons for my absence a secret for now. I will say, however, that there is some GREAT news to be shared soon. Who knows, it may even be one of those life-changers.

Speaking of life-changers, I had one of these a month or so ago (okay, maybe two months ago...). Remember how I got very excited about finally meeting an authentic (and prolife) Catholic individual that had MADE IT in the science world....well, I had a chance to meet them a month or so ago. In fact, I had the chance to just sit down and speak with them for what turned out to be an hour. I'm not sure if I overstayed my welcome (I always feel like I do when it comes to uber-famous scientists), but I have to say that every moment of this meeting changed my life.

I am not sure how to describe how happy I was to discover that this person was on the same page as I am. For the first time, in a long time...I had hope for my future in science...because I had hope for the science world. I don't know if I am the only one out there thinking this, but sometime I feel like the scientific world is becoming a world of robots. There's people in the field that do not think twice about the consequences of their actions, as long as they publish another paper or get more funding. I hate to sound cynical, but there are also some pretty arrogant, nasty people in the science field...the people that would love to mold students like me into something that I am not.

Don't get me wrong, there are scientists out there that are still in the field for the right reasons. These people want to explore because they love to explore...not because they have to prove someone else wrong. These people seek answers to medical problems because they want to cure a disease...not because they want to sell a new drug to a pharmaceutical. These people are actually TOLERANT of various beliefs...and do not snub people who, like me, take their faith seriously. There ARE good people in the field...BELIEVE ME. I would have dropped out a long time ago if it was not for these wonderful people. My problem is that I do not often come across these people. I found a great lab and have had some pretty good mentors over the years. However, whenever I am put in a monstrously huge classroom with a huge class...I start fearing for the future. The vast majority of the students are a perfect example of what it must be like to be both "angry at the world" and incredibly arrogant. I hope I am exaggerating things here, but sometimes I feel that some of these student would willingly throw their grandmother under a bus if it meant a publication in Cell (a very prestigious journal that makes or breaks careers).

Saint Dominic, during one of his
"Why me, God? Why me?"
I'd rather not continue on and on about the disheartening things I have seen and heard as I've continued my I will just sum it all up by saying that these things have brought me down...time and time again. Sometimes, I feel like I am a modern-day Saint Dominic. Long ago, Saint Dominic was horrified to see the Albigensian heresies that were being spread from corner to corner by well-educated and well-versed individuals. He began to lose hope in ever seeing an end to these heresies, but continued to fight them. Eventually, the the Blessed Mother appeared to him in a vision and gave him the power to dispel the heresies...with prayer...mainly the rosary.
"Pray my Psalter and teach it to your people. That prayer will never fail".
He was told that constant prayer of the rosary and meditations on the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ would dispel the heresies from France...and eventually the world.  Eventually, the heresies were forgotten...but it took quite a lot of hard work as well as restructuring of religious education. As hopeless as Dominic's cause may have seemed to him at first, he eventually  worked hard to put an end to the heresy...and succeeded. He could have probably even succeeded without the vision if he had believed in his abilities.

Before I had my meeting with this Catholic individual (who will remain nameless...because just being Catholic these days can lead to career-related troubles), I was feeling like a hopeless Saint Dominic. I was feeling like I needed some form of divine intervention to keep going. Tired of continually swimming upstream in a world where my beliefs are often at odds with common thought and practice, I had just about given up on even trying to continue. In my weakest moments, I thought about throwing in the towel. There were just so many people out there in need of many practices that did not sit well with me...and so many ideas that would put my soul at peril if I ever accepted them. I was afraid that I had hit a point in my life where I would either have to quit science or abandon everything I stood for.

As I listened to this individual's experiences and advice, however, my heart began to stir once again. One of the pieces of advice that stood out was the idea that I should change this field one person at a time. They told me that it is much harder and almost impossible to try changing a room full of people at one go. This way, these people cannot reflect negativity off each other as you try teaching them by word and example. In essence, the idea here is that you reflect light (from God) onto one dirty mirror at a time....with the hope that his mirror will reflect it back and get cleaned up in the process. If you try reflecting it onto a group of dirty mirrors, they will continually reflect off of each other and scatter whatever light you had to share so that it is lost. Another analogy they used was that while it is possible to pick up one piece of garbage from a clean is impossible for someone like me to clean up an entire garbage dump at one go.

This advice, simple as it is, is perfect for someone like me. I've seen it in action before. For whatever reason, I am a personal crisis magnet (though my younger sister beats me by a long shot when it comes to people coming to her for help and advice). I tend to be the person that gets cornered by even the most cranky atheists out there after a few drinks...or whenever a group of people hit the "religion part" of a long talk amid good company. Everyone in my life knows I am very religious, so I am often approached by people with all forms of God, religion, prayer, etc. questions when it comes to religion. When it becomes apparent that I can answer some of these questions in a civil manner, I end up having some of the best religious discussions out there. I always hope that some of these people will be changed by these encounters...but know it is impossible for me to ever know for sure (in this life at least). Still, I feel that I have had a positive influence on the lives of others. I mean, no one ever refused any of the prayer cards, medals, rosaries, etc. that I have offered them. Also, no one has ever refused any of the prayers I've offered to say on their behalf. This advice has prompted me to revisit many of the instances in which I have felt the need to help others...and the effect that my actions may have had. The effect that my actions may one day have...

Another one of Pater Eddie Dwyer's genius creations.
I doubt that I will ever have the skills, faith, and eloquence necessary to convert an entire nation. However, I have enough of these to talk and listen to people whenever faith comes up in conversation. I have enough of these qualities to give people some level of comfort and hope regardless of the path they are on in their spiritual journey. I can also sympathize with these people regardless of where they are in their spiritual journey...because, in some degree, I have been in their shoes. I understand what it is to wish for faith and not have it. Faith, for whatever reason, doesn't just happen. I do know people that wish they believed as I do. For whatever reason, however, regardless of how hard they may just doesn't come easy to them. Saint Augustine is a great example of this. It took years for him to come back to God...and that was with his mother praying for him nonstop. Saint Augustine is certainly a great example of what prayer can do for us when words fall on deaf ears...and when all else fails. His life and his mother's persistence are great examples of how patient we must be when it comes to changing the world around us.

I suppose the first major life-changing lesson I have to share is patience. I have simply fallen into the temptation of desiring instant gratification. I want to believe that I can change the world around me overnight.  I want to be the one that changes the world overnight. However, I have to accept that this is not possible. I also have to accept the fact that I am doing all of this for God's greater glory...not my own. I am not in it for my own happiness, nor am I in it for my own success stories. I am in it for God. As a result, I will simply need to work on my patience as I allow Him to work through me. I simply have to accept the fact that it may take years, decades, or even centuries for Him to change the world through me and many others like me. I have to accept everything on His terms...and on His time.

Pax Vobiscum

Tune in later for more life-changing advice.

In the meantime...don't despair.

 Trust me, there is still plenty of hope for all of us.

1 comment:

  1. How wonderful that you found a kindred spirit!

    I, too, get depressed with all of the anti-religious ignorant bigotry out there. Even close friends have it. I recently had to explain Aquinas' teachings on science that are now part of the Catholic catechism. It shocked them to hear how science was held in such esteem by the Church.