Friday, November 25, 2011

Unfairness of Life

Life is filled with many unexpected zingers, the 'outrageous fortune' that comes to many. What is it that enables some to accept these trials in stride and brings others frustration and unhappiness? 

A monthly bulletin for priests recounts the story of a young girl from a spiritually healthy Catholic family who lived an exemplary life. One of her aunts was superior of a large community of nuns; the family was proud of her, and she was very much admired by the girl.

After college, the girl began working at a private firm and making her way in life. The parents were very proud, and praised her to friends. She decided to follow in the steps of her aunt, and the family was happy with her decision and gave their blessing.
Her intention, the article goes on to say, was to imitate Jesus and be at the service of the weak in society. However, what she saw in the religious life was not always the ideal, but she made allowances for our weak natures and was ready to forgive and understand, for she knew her own weaknesses.

The priest mentions that her personality was such that she spoke her mind, expressing what she she felt in her heart. Some of her superiors didn't care for this and reprimanded her. But this did not change how she lived her life; she quietly went on during what she was assigned to do, without complaining.

This went on for almost ten years; then one day the superior told her she would have to leave. When she asked why, there was no clear answer. This was a shock to her--her world collapsed. She had wanted to be a religious, the only thing she aspired to for all those years and now just before final vows she was told to leave. The priest feels that before the time for perpetual vows, she should have been told what they had difficulty with, so she could work on it.

She was heartbroken and not able to come to terms with what happened. All her dreams and hopes disappeared. She only wished to die. She believed in a God who would help her, but now when she most needed help she felt that God was not there for her; he had become useless to her. Mass and the liturgy lost all meaning. Her parents began to see the change in her personality. What was once a source of pride to the family was now an embarrassment. The young women is now facing a life of despair, frustration, loneliness and thoughts of suicide.

In cases of this type, we do not know all the circumstances, for we only see through the eyes of one of the participants. However,  even though it be conceded that all was not done well, the young woman's interior life was not mature enough to accept the unfairness of what had happened. We must do what we can to address the unfairness in life, but at the same time we have to be able to live with it. Life is not fair and as Christians we have to be prepared for this and trust that in God's providence the crooked will be made straight. We have in Genesis the example of Joseph and in the Gospels, Jesus, which gives us plenty of material to guide us in dealing with the unfairness of life.

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