ST. FRANCIS DE SALES

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Many of us go through life with regrets and worries. Some of these are unavoidable and even unsought as we live our daily lives on this planet. Yet, both can put pressure on our moments, and many times rob us of the graces and gifts right before our very eyes. Too often we spend our now’s listing the to-do’s for the time ahead of us. If we are especially fastidious, we will write our to-do list. If we are extra committed, we will even write to-do lists for other people. Likewise, we can forget about the space and time we are in, in the very moments we are in, by regretting the mistakes, sins, and failures of the past. We are grateful for St. Francis de Sales who invites us to contemplate the graces God offers us in our now’s, and let God’s mercy rule our pasts, and God’s providence rule our futures.

The Way Skinner family’s to-do list. Photo courtesy of the author.

It is God’s grace in our now’s that give us all the strength we need to let today’s concerns be sufficient unto themselves. We are called to be fully present to our now’s in which rest all we need to meet the demands of life. It is from this point that we can rest in radical trust of God’s mercy, grace and providence. In our present moments we can be bold in the faith and step forward to do what needs to be done for God’s plan in our lives and the lives of others. It is only then that we can sacrifice for the God’s greater good. Sacrifice is risking everything with no past regrets holding us back, and no future guarantees spurring us on. All we have is what we must do now, and that requires a radical trust in God.

I remember when my wife and I were first venturing toward adoption as a way of forming our family. Many well-meaning friends, colleagues, and family members lovingly offered cautions and concerns for us and our choice.

“What if the children reject you?”

“What if their parents take them back?”

“What if their troubled pasts are too much for them, and you?”

This is just a small sampling of the many “What ifs?” that we heard all around us. My response was always the same. “I think that if we change the “f”in ‘What if?’ to an “s,” we get ‘What is?’ Maybe by concentrating on the ‘What is’ each day, the ‘What ifs’ will take care of themselves.”

And so, with that in mind, we proceeded with our adoptions. Nearly 30 years later, we would not change a thing. Our children have always been and continue to be the delight of our lives. That is not to say there were no worries, hurts and heartaches. These were all balanced out by rich moments of love, joy, acceptance and accomplishments. All this, I believe, is a testament to the wisdom of St. Francis de Sales who guides us to root ourselves in the God-given grace of each moment of our lives.

We are human beings. We are not human doings or listings. We are not human regretting nor human worryings. We are human beings. Hence, being fully present in the moments before us can lead us to peace and contentment in this life, and possible glory in the next life.

Michael Way Skinner is a retired Coordinator of Religion, Family Life and Equity
with the York Catholic District School Board. He was a contributing author to World
Religions: A Canadian Catholic Perspective, and co-authored There Must be a Pony in Here Somewhere (Novalis, 2020) with his wife, Christine Way Skinner. Michael is a public speaker and award-winning educator who is deeply committed to faith as a source for inclusion and justice.

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