The Race of Faith

The past few months have been very challenging, a bombardment of figures and restrictions and uncertainty. It has also been a unique time for the Church being the first time, in my life at least, in which we have not been able to partake in the sacraments. A question that I have been asking myself is how to maintain a growing relationship with Jesus, without the grace of the Sacraments.

Many of us have got on board with livestreaming, podcasts, zoom calls and reading. But I know that for me, nothing could replace the feeling of being in Church. Seeing the Catholic community bind together in supporting each other was so beautiful to witness and I felt more connected to the rest of the world than ever before. But no longer being able to go to Mass was taking its toll. When in lockdown, I began to let off steam by going on a run. In a surprising way, God soothed these frustrations and patiently taught me to rejoice in the present moment.

So these were a few lessons that I learnt from running that spoke to this desire to grow in my faith:

1) When you are tired, let the Spirit take control.

There were many times that I wanted to just stop but learning to lean on the Lord, whether it was in finishing the run or keeping up daily prayer, helped me grow in littleness.

‘…we trust in our Lord, and we draw near to him, tranquil and sure, not because of what we are, but because of what he is.’ Servant of God, Luis Maria Martinez

2) Everyday is an opportunity to grow in holiness.

After each run, it was like the counter went back to zero. This is not to say that I had not gained anything from it, simply that each new day was an invitation to run again. In the same way, Jesus has invited me to share with him and to renew my commitment to serving him everyday.

‘Jesus replied: “If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home with him.”’ John 14:23

3) Persevere until you reach the finishing line.

Knowing that I am a Daughter of God and that He desires to be united with me in Heaven quietens the noise of the world. Strangely when I was running, I was so focussed on getting back to that beginning point that everything else became less important for a little while. Seeing life stripped down in a manner of weeks really helped refocus my gaze on the Lord.

‘For dust you are and to dust you shall return.’ Genesis 3:23-24

4) God loves us and he blesses us for putting in the work.

Being without the Sacrament of Confession, the burden of sinfulness became much heavier but I was time and again reminded that God loves us in our poverty.

‘Jesus replied: “If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home with him.”’ John 14:23

5) You cannot rely on your own strength.

Sometimes it has felt so hopeless trying to navigate daily life without the sacraments and the metaphorical tank has often been empty. But it has been a sacrifice not without its graces. We are called to live courageously and boldly! If I have learnt anything, it is that I need God so much and I can do so much more when I place my trust in Him. I will, quite literally, continue to race for the grace!

“God’s faithful constancy is an anchor in an ever-shifting world, where love declared today is spurned tomorrow, and all other certainties are blown away by the wind.”

Miriam Isaacs, President of University of Bristol CathSoc

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