5 Ways to Survive Tough Times

Part of the human experience is struggle: locked in combat with the guy in the next cave over or the guy next door regarding the height of hedges. Sometimes the struggles are private ones (say, working to alleviate sin and cultivate good habits in oneself.)

Both my parents were Depression-era kids. My mom always said she and her siblings didn't realize they were poor until they were older. Everyone they knew was in the same situation. Yet, any time I visited my folks, their pantry was STOCKED. "Mom, why do you have 6 cans of peaches?" "They were on sale." The memories of the Depression never left them.

For Catholics, we've been living in tough times for, uh, about 2,000 years ago. And things were tougher still for folks before that. Flannery O'Connor once said, "People think that they Catholic faith is a big, warm electric blanket. It's not. It is a cross."

These past few weeks have been absolutely demoralizing for Catholics. Our priests are demoralized. The lay faithful are also angry; how could this happen to so many people over the past 100 years? By priests, for God's sake? I don't really have a lot to say on this that hasn't already been reported, but I do know one thing: we need to be on our knees, in prayer.

The lay faithful have both the incredible responsibility of maintaining our parishes and local Catholic schools, but also the awesome responsibility to become holy.

Get that? The Church needs you. We need you praying, worshipping, begging God for holiness. 

Yes, you.

What can we do to survive in these tough times?

1. Be honest. If someone in the family loses a job, or becomes ill, be honest about it. Tell your kids what is going on, and brainstorm ways to cut costs out of the family budget. Even if it's a delicate situation (such as the abuse scandal), be as honest as possible, given the child's maturity level.) Kids get much more worried when they constantly hear whispered conversations in the next room or parents who say, "No, nothing is wrong" while Mom's hair is falling out due to chemo. It's so much better if we are honest with each other.

2. Hunker down. Pretend it's 1955. That means we cook dinner every night (cuts down on fast food), we entertain ourselves (Play cards! Drag out Monopoly!), and vacations turn into stay-cations.

3. Hold Your Head Up. Money issues are generally not moral issues, so if times
are tough, you have nothing to be ashamed of. And if you're head is always down, you don't notice those around you who may need your time and attention or are willing to support you.

4. Volunteer. If you've got time on your hand, volunteer for a cause that is close to your heart. There is no shortage of organizations, adults and young people that need our help.

5. Be faithful. It's ok to be angry, but don't let anger drive you. This will ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS end badly. Be angry, and then move on. Consider keeping a journal - writing things down often helps us sort out our thoughts and emotions. It's also a safe place to unload some of those negative emotions like fear and anger.

Drawing closer to God should be our desire every day, not just on tough days. Praise him! Adore him! Were it not for Him, we would not exist. Yet he loves us so much, he created us in HIS image and likeness. Yes, these can be tough times, but they are not invaluable. The persecution of the Church (whether from the inside of the outside) requires great, tough saints.

I don't like tough times. I don't suppose too many people do. But this opportunity to grow in faith cannot be ignored or wasted. Tough times have nothing on tough prayers.











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