June 10, 2016
The following is a post written by monthly contributor Alexa.  

It’s hard to live in the present when your future seems so uncertain, and it’s also hard to live in the present when your future seems an endless routine. Let’s be honest, it’s hard to live in the present no matter what state of life you may be in.  

Now I don’t know exactly what my future holds.  I have discerned a religious life and heard a slow "no" from the Holy Spirit.  Yet in the last little while I felt that God was not showing Himself to me.  In fact, for the past three years He has been rather silent.  That’s not to say He has not been kind, loving and protective,  it’s rather He has just been very quiet. 

I began to feel heartened over the past month when I thought that if God would just show me my vocation I could accept the daily drudgeries of life - I could be joyful and positive. But the truth is that I would still be ugly. (Don’t worry I don't have low self esteem. I just mean my soul would still be ugly.The pettiness of wanting my will and not God’s would not go away.  My natural melancholic temperament would still struggle to be joyous and positive even if I knew my vocation.  The selfish desire for comfort and ease would not leave despite a concrete vocation.

You see the problem is not God’s Will for me.  The problem is me.  My sins and vices need to be rooted out because my vocation is to love God and become holy. So whether I live on the streets like St. Joseph Labre, or as a single person like Blessed Pier Giorgio, or as a married person like St. Louis and St. Zelie Martin, the fact is that I will still have to deal with my ugly present, my daily struggle to be holy. And that orientation towards holiness happens in the present moment, not in some idyllic future - which, if you are like me, is where your mind may wander to. You say to yourself, “Well if I knew my vocation then I would be more holy” or “if I did not have screaming children to tend to I would be able to have a better prayer life and participate better at Mass.”  

However, it’s not the future that’s the problem.  In order for my future to be holy I need to choose to live in my ugly present. I need to chose now to ask God for the grace to fix my lack of virtue in the many areas of my life: my lack of goodness, my lack of trust in God, and my selfish desires.  I need  to look outward at the needs of others because the present is all I have.  To love God, right now, is all that matters.  You will not love God better in the future if you refuse to recognize that His Will is for you to love Him now, in whatever state or circumstances in which you find yourself.

I remember in my Philosophy Class a few years ago my Professor was explaining how Aristotle wrote that virtue is not what we often think it is. We often think when we strive to do the right thing we are being virtuous.  So when we painfully get out bed early to go to daily Mass or say our prayers, if we struggle to be patient and count to ten to hold our temper, or when we say we are going to trust in God even when we are frustrated with His Will, we think this is virtue.  However, as Aristotle explains and what the Saints confirm is that virtue is not the struggle.  Virtue is when the struggle and hardships remain, but our attitude changes.  Read any life of the saints and you will see that they may have felt barren and empty inside and struggled to feel love,  yet they fulfilled every duty with joy. They were not pouting, or screaming at the hardships in their lives, but they embraced them and rooted them in a desire to serve and suffer for Christ in every moment. Every daily annoyance became an opportunity to love.  Their lives reflect their hope, trust and faith which was rooted in God’s will and the desire to love no matter what happened to them or what they may feel.  

It’s easy to think because we are struggling we are becoming holy, but, sadly, struggle is a sign that we are just beginning our journey to holiness. We desire virtue but it has not become a habit yet, it has not become a love affair with Christ.  So how do we rectify this? By loving our ugly present.  We also become holy by embracing our hurt, facing our pain instead of trying to run away from it or putting it off to a future that cannot exist without our present.  We begin to chang our ugly present into our idyllic now when we pick up our cross and ask Christ to be made worthy of following in His footsteps, into a great love affair with Christ. By the grace of God all things are possible and holiness is within our present grasp.


  1. Sarah, I'm right with you when it comes to frustration over a stalled vocation. Like you, I've discerned marriage, but have encountered quite a few disappointments along the way....it's hard being chaste in an unchaste world ;-) So refreshing to read the words of another young woman who is trying to do what's right. I still struggle to feel energetic and enthusiastic about my "ugly present," and I'm finally giving myself permission to do that. Interesting comments about struggling. I'm starting to choose to not struggle. Just allow my energy level to be whatever it is, my mood, my emotional life. If God doesn't send consolations and lots of energy, I try to humbly accept that and just get through the day without thinking that I've failed God and myself. Trying to be truly content with whatever God provides; accepting confusion, uncertainty, and even disappointment and just living through it without complaint. A realization that the trial of singleness has humbled me in lots of ways and made me much more Christlike, helps me see that God really can make lemonade out of lemons. The choice to value growth in grace over temporal goods and unquestioningly trust God, brings peace. You're not alone, hang in there!

  2. Hi Kristen my name is Alexa and I wrote this article I contribute to the blog every month or so. It's nice to hear your thoughts and I agree with them. Yes I think ethusatism in any vocation seems to be lacking in our present culture. I know lots of people from varying vocations who are not very enthusiastic which was why I wrote this in the hope that we realize we "are not made for comfort but greatness" as Pope Benny said. And it is the present moments that we shape ourselves by God's grace to be more like Christ. I think we really need to realize it is not about fufilling our desires but fufilling Christ's commandments that will lead to our happiness her and in eternity. Thanks for your comment!



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