It seems safe to say that Fall 2020 will be a semester like no other. Indeed, however this semester turns out, there’s one thing it definitely won’t be: normal. In a thousand different ways, this semester is going to be decidedly abnormal.
Like every other semester, this one will have its challenges – and these challenges will no doubt be bigger, tougher, and more complicated than usual. But if we take our faith seriously, this shouldn’t overly stress us out. Having legitimate concerns and taking appropriate precautions makes sense, but if we find ourselves becoming unduly anxious, it’s important for us to remember that God always has a plan (see Phil 4:6-7).
As Catholics, our lives should already be anything but normal, anything but comfortable. And whilst of course we must be prudent and take appropriate steps to keep students safe this semester, nonetheless it’s essential that we avoid excessive fear or anxiety in the face of the unknown. During a Spring 2018 talk on campus, actor Jim Caviezel made this point:
You weren’t made to fit in, my brothers and sisters. You were born to stand out. Set yourself apart from this corrupt generation. Be Saints
At Franciscan University we are blessed in the knowledge that our calling in this life is one not of comfort and mediocrity, but rather of challenge and adventure. Recalling this year’s theme, we need to daily remind ourselves that ours is a mission to walk by faith, not by sight.
No matter how this semester turns out, God wants to use this time to stretch us, to teach us, and to draw us closer to Him. In spite of – or perhaps because of – all the challenges, He is fully intending to use this time to turn us into Saints, if only we let Him.
Our faith tells us that God has been planning for this very semester since before the foundation of the world. That’s a wild thought! This pandemic didn’t surprise Him – but it may well surprise us when we see just how many blessings He plans to work through it.
Although this semester won’t be normal, we know that God will still give us the grace to achieve incredible things. Whether it’s overcoming an addiction, forming a life-long friendship, reconciling with a family member, or going deeper in prayer – all this and so much more is on offer this semester, if only we seize the moment and step out boldly in faith.
No matter how this semester goes, it can still be amazing. Amidst all the change and confusion, God continues to offer us an extraordinary abundance of grace; we need only accept it. Will this semester be easy? Doubtful. Will it be awesome? You bet it will.