We are not alone

Last week Father Jeff Cabral and I went to St. John’s Seminary to take the Fall River seminarians to dinner. I recall my own time at St. John’s when priests would do the same. It was always a nice break from the routine, good to get to know the Fall River priests better and even though the food at the seminary was good, it was nice to get out.

The end of the semester is within sight, a time of the year that can be quite stressful. In addition to finals to prepare for, many classes will have papers due as well. This is in addition to field education assignments, Spiritual Formation and daily responsibilities. There are aspects from my own time in the seminary that I look back on fondly — the end of the semester is not one of them.

The next day I was at UMass Dartmouth and Bristol Community College. The same sense of stress was beginning to make itself felt. Each Thursday evening at the Newman House in Dartmouth we have a Mass followed by a pasta dinner. It is a nice break from the routine, a chance to get away from the dorms, the RAs and the stress of academics to relax for a little while, pray and enjoy one another’s company. We are starting to see a little less of the students this time of the semester as they prepare for the end of the semester. The stress was evident in the faces of some of our first year students. My advice to them was the advice someone gave to me in college: remember, it all gets done. It seems a bit simple, but it is an important thing to remind oneself of when up to your eyeballs in papers, studying, and projects. With the workload and the lack of sleep that usually accompanies this time of the semester, it is easy to become overwhelmed. It may seem easier to walk away or to find some kind of escape. As someone who has been through it, I just share with them what helped me to persevere.

That is an important point to keep in mind, not just in school but in life. There are times when we will feel overwhelmed and stressed. It is quite easy to feel sorry for oneself or to give up. It is important to hear from those who have been there before. Yes the struggle will continue, the stress will be there, but it will help us keep the goal in mind. We will realize that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

This is very important in our life of faith as well. The more stressed or overwhelmed we are, the more likely our focus will be on ourselves. Our vision narrows and perhaps even darkens. Others help us to refocus on the light, to help us walk through those moments without losing hope or being overcome by the stresses and trials we will experience in life.

Whether it is finals, work, relationships, whatever, we must remember that we are not alone. Throughout the Scriptures the Lord has called us to remain connected to one another. It is how we flourish as human beings in our growth and development and it is how we persevere in the times of stress and trial.

Anchor columnist Father Frederici is pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Pocasset and diocesan director of Campus Ministry and Chaplain at UMass Dartmouth and Bristol Community College.

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