As I look around each day, I see vastly that life is filled with paradox. The more connected we get through technology, the more isolated we feel. The more you fail at something, the more likely you are to (eventually) succeed. The more that we learn, the more we realize how very little we actually know. And in order to fully live, we must experience a sense of death of the self. Something that has set in over these last few weeks is that, in order to reach peace we must surrender to God’s will.
Here at Franciscan we have an intervention program for students caught drinking under age. The student is mandated to meet with a “Mentor” for four sessions. The mentor is a Counseling student such as myself, whose job is to assess where the student is at as far as alcohol abuse goes. Depending on what they find, they may spend those four sessions any number of ways. If the student has a problem with alcohol, then it can be addressed. If not, then I find myself in a much more pastoral role.
“From August 2002 to June 2003, I lived and walked among the faceless people of the streets. I say ‘faceless’ because when you are homeless, the rest of the world does its very best to look past you” (The Word Among Us, November 2014, p.56). This article got my attention as I was leaving from an hour of adoration in the Blessed Sacrament. It felt like Jesus was speaking right at me and challenging me to put my faith into action. Is that me, Lord?
Throughout this semester, I have done a lot of reflecting on what I have to offer my clients as a counselor. Before this semester, I did not think that I had a lot to offer my clients in terms of life experience and a story. After all, as a cradle Catholic graduate student who comes from a white upper-middle class family how can I relate to people who are new in the faith or who come from different socioeconomic, educational, and cultural backgrounds? This question has definitely been answered throughout the semester as my classmates and I have explored our family and religious background as well as discussed some very personal beliefs and experiences.
“God I look to you, I won’t be overwhelmed, give me vision to see things like you do. God I look to you, you’re where my help comes from, give me wisdom, you know just what to do” (Jenn Johnson).
With six papers due before Thanksgiving, and three exams in 24 hours soon after, I have to admit I’m a bit overwhelmed and burned out from this semester. It makes me wonder how in the world am I ever going to persevere in ministry and service with client after client in pastoral counseling? What do I do on the days I’m losing steam and everything in me wants to stay on the couch, take a nap and just watch a movie? That’s where the above song lyrics come into play. Do I remember to rely on the Lord and not on my own strength? Do I truly look to Him? Self-reliance is something so natural and important in our culture, yet in a sense it’s anti-Christian.
For anyone going into Catholic pastoral counseling, a strong understanding of Catholic Social Teaching is important. The teachings of the Catholic Church shed wonderful light on the dignity of the human person and man’s relationship with other people and the world around him as God intended it to be.