Living in interesting times – a reflection

A commissioning weekend for the Class of 2022 was held May 13-15, 2022 at St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission at Bruno, SK. (Photo courtesy of St. Therese Institute)

Editor’s note: This reflection by Jim Anderson, Director of Formation at St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission at Bruno was recently published in The Little Way magazine Summer 2022 edition (used with permission). St. Therese Institute this year celebrates 15 years as a post-secondary Catholic institute providing adult faith formation in a common life of prayer, study and fellowship, inspired by the life and teachings of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

By Jim Anderson, Director of Formation, St. Therese Institute

May you live in interesting times!” is an ancient Chinese curse, and, indeed, we live in interesting times!

But, as St. Paul promises the Romans, “grace abounds all the more.” If this is a time of deep challenge, we can know for sure that it is also a time of deeper grace.

Jim Anderson, Director of Faith and Mission, St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission

I needn’t enumerate the difficulties we faced this year as we navigated our way through Covid restrictions, outbreaks, social tensions, and the wide spectrum of strongly held opinions, fears, and frustrations.

The St. Therese community is a microcosm of the Church. The polarization that plagues society also crept into our little society. This called us to move from extremes — to go deep, to be “radical,” literally rooted in Christ, and to be fruitful in his Spirit.

This year’s formation theme was: “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). This theme was further based on two pillars of love: the call of Jesus to “love one another as I have loved you”
(cf. John 13), and to unity in Christ (cf. John 17).

The students’ daily choices for love and unity did indeed bear fruit.

Each spring at Commissioning time, as I reflect back on the year of formation, I anticipate a principal fruit to be evident in the student community, a certain grace to have manifested. Most years, this is an obvious fruit. This year, however, the fruit was a little unexpected, more subtle and hidden, and I would dare say more stable—possibly even more foundational.

I was really only able to identify and recognize it because I was reflecting on the year in light of Megan Hoyteniuk’s second-year Independent Study Project on patience. Megan presented a study of the Greek word makrothumia, a word translated as “patience.”

Usually, we think of patience as a human virtue, waiting for or tolerating something.

On the other hand, makrothumia, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, signifies something far deeper and far stronger.

Makrothumia (from makro, long, and thumia, temper) literally means being “long-tempered.” It means the ability to stand still and unflinching while experiencing very strong emotion, particularly sorrow and anger. It is to feel deeply and choose not to react, to forbear.

And that’s a forbearance that cannot be done by human strength. It can only be achieved by the strength of God.

I have seen this God-given gift of patience grow in this community; it is the clearest and most important fruit born in this year. Indeed, as Paul tells us, first and foremost, love is patient.

In this, the students have been faithful. These young men and women coming from St. Therese
will provide for the Church a hope- inspiring witness of the power of patience. Indeed, in patience, they will “set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity (1 Timothy 4:12)

Read more about St. Therese Institute: The Little Way magazine Summer 2022 edition