When Things Get Difficult, Think of Others, Issue 40
Rita Niblack, Pastoral Director
For the past 15 years, Rita Niblack has been a spiritual guide and educator at Mullen High School. In our last and 40th issue of Mullen Today's Unordinary Times, she reminds us that during these times of frustration and isolation brought on by the coronavirus (COVID-19) to think of others as our founder, St. John Baptist de La Salle did.
One of the most important moments in the life of St. John Baptist de La Salle came during the winter of 1683-84, when a terrible famine struck Europe. His city of Reims was full of hungry people who were suffering because of the cold, the poor crops, the lack of food and the ravages of war. De La Salle, the leader of a little community of teachers who were committed to educating the poor, had a great deal of wealth at the time, because of an inheritance from the death of his parents. This money created a division between him and the Brothers and it was during the worst of the famine that he realized that the way to unite himself with the poor was to give.
What would St. John Baptist de La Salle do today if he were here experiencing this pandemic? I believe the Founder would give everything he had to serve the needs of the poorest and sickest, during a pandemic like this. During this time of social distancing, I have found my greatest consolation in remembering the needs of others as well.
It is hard to feel sorry about a stay-at-home order, when one has a home to stay in. I know people for whom staying-at-home is staying in a tent or under a bush. These men and women are some of the most vulnerable population in our city. With so many of the shelters and places of safety closed because of social distancing, those who are homeless still need to eat, so I am part of a team who provide sack suppers every day for the marginalized. Eighty sacks every weekday and 160 on Fridays are needed and will be needed all summer and until Senior Support opens again.
While it has been a great hardship for me not to receive the Eucharist, when I make the sandwiches and back the bags I know that I am giving a bit of myself and receiving the Lord Jesus through feeding, rather than being fed. This is what gives me life and sustains me.
St. John Baptist de La Salle found his life work, when he saw the needs of others during a crisis, and gave all that he had.
During this time of the coronavirus pandemic, I also find who I am by giving to others.