There are days when each of us questions our place in “the grand scheme of things.” It usually happens when we feel that something we have tried seems to fail (although we should not be too hasty to judge!). Sometimes it’s just because we have been working too hard or not working enough but feel we are just “worn out” from trying. Sometimes (like today) there is no sunshine and it is very cold outside. What do you do on a day like that? There are always answers; it’s just a question of finding one…
Today is the feast of St. John Neumann, a bishop who lived only 49 years. Born in Bohemia, he wanted to become a priest but, I read today, “his local diocese had a surfeit of priests.” Instead of wringing his hands or finding something else to do, he traveled to America and was accepted in a seminary in New York. He was ordained in 1836 and worked among various immigrant populations because of his gift for languages. He became a naturalized citizen and eventually became the fourth bishop of Philadelphia. Among his accomplishments were the establishment of the first network of parochial schools in the country, the founding of a congregation of teaching Sisters, the construction of a cathedral, and the introduction of the still popular Forty Hours Devotion in American parishes. He died on January 5, 1860 and was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1977.
Noting that his life was changed by his solution to a disappointment early on, we might not be as energetic or creative but we would do well to attend to his advice today as we wait for the sun to shine, knowing that whatever is ours to do or become, it is worth the effort. He said the following: Everyone who breathes…has a mission, has a work. We are not sent into this world for nothing; we are not born at random…God sees every one of us; God creates every soul…for a purpose. As Christ has His work, we too have ours; as He rejoiced to do His work, we must rejoice in ours also.”