Am I Even Making A Difference?

After a month off from social media (but not a month off… just so we’re clear), I’m happy to say that I’m back in the swing of things with YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and the podcast (whew… that’s a mouthful). While I’ve received many messages over the past few weeks wondering where I was, questioning whether I was stepping away from this ministry, the question was never in doubt; as with past Christmases, I take some time away, not just to rejuvenate, but to plan the next semester.

And yet, there was something a bit different about this break, I’ll admit. I didn’t have the same enthusiasm about the next semester’s lineup of videos. I wasn’t completely invested as I was in years past. A part of me was a bit frustrated with the work, a bit burnt out from the constant pressure to produce, and frankly, a bit disillusioned by the whole thing. Maybe I was discerning what the future would hold for Breaking In The Habit.

As I share in this week’s reflection, I found myself asking more and more last semester, “Am I even making a difference?” Sure, I was getting “likes” and nice comments. Sure, I have amazed at how many “followers” I have. But really, in the mission of Christ, was I really making progress in a way that reflected the work I was putting in and what I hoped to accomplish?

I share this, not because I’m still discerning this ministry or because I’m looking for compliments, but because I think that what I’m experiencing is very common in this life as a Christian. I think that we all hit walls, struggle to see the fruit of our labors, and have to fight the urge to give up. This is not the first time I have struggled in this way, and it will most certainly not be the last.

So, how do we respond. In this video, I want to suggest two things: 1) live with personal integrity, and 2) trust in God. At the end of the day, we cannot let our perception of success dictate how we act; besides the fact that our definition of success is different from God’s, we don’t always see the whole picture. It is important to remember, sometimes, that just because we don’t see progress, doesn’t mean that it isn’t there.

And so, I leave you with one of my favorite prayers, one related to this issue. Often attributed to St. Oscar Romero, it was written by then-Fr. Ken Untener (later, Bishop Untener) for the use in a homily delivered by Cardinal Dearden in 1979. I hope that it gives you the hope that it does for me, and that the wisdom of this prayer may guide us as we continue on.

Prophets of a Future Not Our Own

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith.

No confession brings perfection.

No pastoral visit brings wholeness.

No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.

8 Comments on “Am I Even Making A Difference?

  1. Dear Brother,
    You are making a difference. A very positive difference.
    I am the Youth/Young Adult Animator for the South East Region of the Secular Franciscan Order. I was just speaking with some of the ministers today about putting together a day of discernment and your videos, especially The World Needs a Franciscan Renewal. Brother, you are a teacher and a teacher is the stone that hits the water in a calm pond and does not see the effect of the ripples. Believe me, you are making many strong ripples.
    Janice, OFS

  2. Brother Casey,
    You almost always provide a clear and workable message, and this is appreciated by many people. It would help some of your followers who are about your age and gender if you could elaborate on how you handle the temptations of the flesh. We can never expect sexual urges to disappear and many of us wonder if masturbation and wet dreams are all that much to focus on. Only someone as close to God as you are can answer from personal experience. Thank you.
    Kippy

  3. Excellent!!
    I really believe you make a difference… and I cannot understand someone may call you idealistic in an offensive way -those may not have a clue of what being a Christian stand for, then. I just think you strive to be coherent with your beliefs and faith -There’s no Christian without a big load of ideals and idealism, starting with Jesus Christ himself! And I believe that’s a great thing!
    If you lost your faith and the track in your mission now, that would make your whole previous career useless and childish… but while you carry on working for the Kingdom of God, everything is based on our idea of scatological faith, that many see as smoke in the air, but it’s the essence and the grandeur of our catholic faith!
    Antonio x

  4. Brother Casey, I love the prayer you shared. I’ve read it before and I find it very inspirational. Think of the great cathedrals in Europe that took generations to build – the workers spent their lives on the project knowing they would not see the finished result, yet they persevered for the furtherance of God’s plan and His Kingdom. Yes, you DO make a difference, even if the results are hard to see in a tangible way.

  5. Wise words! With an universal perspective. What you say, applies for all kinds of man.

    Thanks.

    Freddy De Schutter

    Sparrenlaan 49

    2900 Schoten

    03 658 61 72 0496 32 02 15

  6. Brother Casey (soon to be Father ) I have found your “Breaking the Habit” very usefull for me. It has been exciting watching your development over ‘how many years now.’ I do not thnk you will run out of adventures with your type of Evangelizing. I know you have ignited renewal in coming back to the Church.
    Your magnetic exuberance has me wishing that I would have stayed in the Seminary. At least at this time in my life I can hope to fullly appreciate the Church.
    I think I would have the advantage of you being my Confessor… I hope you are assigned a Parish near me!

  7. Future “Fr. Casey, you are in my daily prayers. Over the years I have seen a dramatic change in the boy you were and the man you’ve become. Your depth of focus and embracing of your calling are inspired. I have complete confidence in you and your path to the priesthood. All is possible through Christ. My family and I look forward to your ordination. We know this is just the beginning for you on your faith journey. We know your will have temptations, questions and hardships. Always trust in the Lord and reminded us to continue to pray for you. I asked you that first year you came to IC what I could do for you. You said pray for me, our council, parish and family have continued to pray for you. God Bless you! SK Tim Hall, K of C N.C.-DD10

  8. Thank you for your reflection. As I prepare a homily for the coming Sunday it seems that the prayer of Oscar Romero will be an excellent capstone. Thank you for sharing, and yes you make a difference.
    Deacon Steve

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