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Divided, we must stand with Christ

I found myself asking "how did we get here?" a lot over this past year. I witnessed such sadness, anger, confusion, frustration and feelings of loneliness — and that was just when I looked in the mirror. The venom and resentment showcased on the different media outlets led me to wonder when is the last time it has been this bad? Lives being lost and livelihoods changed dramatically by this virus. With the murder of George Floyd and racial tensions at an all-time high in my lifetime, I did not know what to do. 

Initially, I wanted to help bring a sense of peace to those around me. But soon I realized my powerlessness in bringing peace and understanding. So instead of trying, I slowly started choosing sides and like a sports fan, I watched and rooted for my "team" while sitting on the sidelines. Of course, this only added to the division. I felt isolated, sad and anxious, but masked it with anger and distrust, all the while acting as though everything was fine on the outside. I began to form a bubble around myself, only allowing those with similar opinions to join me. 

It was not until I returned to Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., in August that I fully realized I had left Jesus out of my bubble. Not physically, as I went to Mass and regularly prayed the whole time. Rather, I had tuned him out because he did not have a similar opinion. I wanted to make changes to others; he wanted to make changes to me. 

Only recently, with the help of Father Jacques Phillipe’s book "Searching for and Maintaining Peace," did I begin making progress. Father Philippe writes, "When we are powerless, let us be quiet and let God act." This quiet did not just refer to my interactions with others, but internally with myself. I needed God to act in me to soften my heart and remind me of his love for me. I needed him to help me truly listen to others, not to argue but to understand their pain. Only through his action did I become more equipped to love and bring peace to myself and, in turn, to others. 

As I continue to draw closer to Christ, I find myself standing increasingly closer to the middle of this divide, with a heart more prepared to be his blessed peacemaker and true child of God.

Malebranche, who is from St. Katharine Drexel Church in Haymarket, is in his second year of pre-theology studies at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020