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Four Years at the Mount

Freshman year

Four Pillar Resolutions: Faith - Leaping into the New Year with Saint Francis

Lydia Olsen
Class of 2016

(1/2013) Faith exists throughout the Mount campus. Whether it is in the students, in the Seminarians, or in the chapels, it is a presence that cannot be ignored. Yet, among the various holy people and places, the holiest spot of all has to be the Grotto. Since 1728, the Grotto has served as a place of religious freedom. It has been said to be one of the loveliest places in the world. It is a place of worship and it is without question a place of faith.

During the beginning of the school year, I would jog from my dorm up to the Grotto for exercise. Anyone who has ever been up to the Grotto knows how challenging this would be. One can only travel to the Grotto by going uphill. I would try my hardest to keep my pace as I jogged up St. Mary’s Mountain, and I would often be delighted to hear the bells chime from my destination. I persistently would run as the bells rang around the mountain and across the valley below me. Arriving at the Grotto was completely satisfying. In silence, I would stand overlooking the valley below me. In contemplation I would think that this place undoubtedly had to have been made by God. With the sun setting behind the mountain, everything that lay before me was outlined in sunlight. The mountains outlined the horizon. The landscape was made up of acres of green grass, countless trees, scattered houses, and spots of cows. As I would walk through the Grotto, I would reflect on everything around me. One day I stumbled upon St. Francis’ Prayer.

For my New Year’s resolution of 2013, I want to live my life in accordance to St. Francis’ Prayer. The prayer outlines how we should live a faith-based life throughout our daily actions. "O Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace!"

"Where there is hatred, let me sow love." Hatred can be found wherever we may look. It is caused by hurt feelings, conflict, and even misunderstandings. It screams out in cruel forces that cause trouble, anger, and pain. Hatred can be found in school, in the workplace, in families and within one’s self. Hatred destroys what is beautiful. With all the time and energy spent on hating, one could instead positively impact the world with one’s affection. In demeaning situations, in others and in one’s self, love must be sown. Love must be planted and overtake existing hate. Love must end the destruction and rebuild the beauty. I resolve to sow love around me and within myself, for it is in loving our brothers and sisters that we show our faith.

"Where there is injury, pardon." Too often, we hold onto grudges and past events. We hold out on forgiving those who have caused us pain or injury and we refuse to forgive. But to live in faith, we each must forgive each other, even if we do not receive an apology. Forgiveness is the solution to some of our most difficult struggles. It allows us to move forward, though it is often easier said than done. Forgiveness has to be accepted in our minds and in our hearts before it can take place. The mistakes others have made and the mistakes we have made ourselves need to be recognized before they can be forgiven. I resolve to pardon when there is injury, for it is only in forgiveness that we can grow in faith.

"Where there is discord, harmony." Disagreement can be found among us all. No two people think, feel, or act in ways with which others necessarily agree. Often people make the agreement to disagree. I am not in favor of this compromise because in the end, it is just contradictory. What I have learned is that when in disagreement, we must settle on common ground. This might not be easy and the common ground might end up being something very basic, but it is important that disputes end in some sort of harmony, even if it is at the most basic level. I resolve to make harmony where there is discord, for it is only in agreement that we can share our faith.

"Where there is doubt, faith." Uncertainty lies in everything in our daily lives. There can be uncertainty in everyday things such as meals or expectations. It can exist in physical directions and also in directions taken during our lives. There can also be uncertainty in beliefs at troubling times, yet one must have faith. One must put complete trust in the Lord to lead the way and erase the doubt that lies ahead. I resolve to have faith where there is doubt.

"Where there is despair, hope." Throughout life, it is rare to not experience a moment of complete loss of hope. During the never-ending commotion and chaos of everything around us, the heartache we feel over the sickness or loss of loved ones, or the days when everything seems to be going wrong, despair is hard to conquer. It weighs down on our shoulders, on our minds and on our hearts. It is in these times that we must have desire, trust and optimism. We must have hope. Hope for the health and happiness of our loved ones. Hope for the chaos to be sorted. Hope for God to watch over our brothers and sisters in their time of need. Hope for God to shelter each and every one of us throughout our time on Earth. Hope that overpowers despair. I resolve to have hope where there is despair, for it is in hoping that we find faith.

"Where there is darkness, light." The world and life are dark without God. Without light, we hide behind fear in the darkness of the shadows. God must be the light to illuminate the dark that prevails. Light must be shined on the gloomy areas of the world. God must have a spark to brighten the darkness in the people and places around us. We must be the sparks. We must desire to live in the light of God. When we travel into places that are dimly lit, we must carry our light and encourage those hiding in the shadows to step into the brightness of God. I resolve to bring light where there is darkness, for it is only in the light of God that faith can be found.

"Where there is sorrow, joy." It is often thought that sorrow can only be healed by time, but the greatest healer is actually pleasure. It is when we see the sadness in our neighbors’ eyes or hear it in their words that we must bring them joy. Joy can be as simple as a conversation, a card, or a thoughtful gift. Sorrow is often suffered in solitude. To bring joy, we must remind those in distress that we care and that we are always a shoulder on which they can lean. It is in the happiness of others that joy is spread. A mere smile can be contagious. I resolve to bring joy where there is sorrow, for it is joy that transpires faith.

"Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life."

It is in all the words of this prayer that we must remember to put others before ourselves. The prayer of St. Francis is a model of how we should live our lives in faith individually and in a community. It asks nothing of us that we cannot give and it leads us on the path of righteousness towards God.

This New Year, I resolve to grow in faith through actively living St. Francis’ prayer. I will constantly be reminded of my resolution as I hear the bells from the Grotto ring every hour. This New Year, I will become an instrument of faith in the Lord.

Read other articles by Lydia Olsen