Deacon from St. Paul-Minneapolis: God gives us what we need to get through difficult times

February 28, 2014, edition
By Susan Klemond
For The Catholic Spirit

We shouldn’t be surprised when God allows us to experience trials. Instead, we should turn to him humbly and continue living our faith as well or better than we do in good times, Deacon Joseph Michalak said at a Feb. 19 presentation, “Crisis and Difficulty: A Time for Growth.”

The talk was part of the St. Paul-based Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute’s Learn & Live Series.

“There’s a mystery here that God our Father will allow things to happen to us that we might not expect, that we might not want, that we might not anticipate,” Deacon Michalak said to attendees at Holy Spirit Parish in St. Paul.

“We might not even be able to imagine that he would allow it in his will, his providence, which sees all in order to bring us closer to him.”

The Scriptures capture the depth of anguish we sometimes experience in our own difficulties and in problems like those the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is facing related to some of its priests, said Deacon Michalak, who is diaconate formation director for the archdiocese.

When tempted to get angry and throw off our faith, we need to humble ourselves, surrender to God’s will, love him and others, and praise him, he said.

“God’s not waiting for us to get our act together before he comes to us,” Deacon Michalak said. “He enters where we are right now if we just receive him.”

In Luke 22, Jesus’ prayer is not that the apostles would avoid trials, but that they would have the strength to endure them. The Bible also says we should continue to love during difficult times even when we’re tempted to sin in other areas of life, he said.

“Often when we experience difficulty, crisis, temptation, suffering and life challenge, the first response is anger, rebellion, ‘why me?’ ” Deacon Michalak said.

Throughout any crisis, we should pray, and God will reward us with his presence, he said. A practical step is to pray even more than when things are going well.

He suggested praying all the Psalms, which begin with following God’s law in Psalm 1, then offer accounts of many struggles, and end with praising God.

Only God knows all about our situation, which is why we should surrender to him, said Jeanne Barron, a parishioner at St. John the Baptist Parish in New Brighton, Minn., and second-year student at the Catechetical Institute.

“God sees all,” she said.

“We’re only seeing our perspective. We need to surrender to him because he sees more.”