If we truly seek out God’s will for us, we will certainly be forces of change in Canada, writes Youth Speak News' Vanessa Chan. Photo by Michael Swan

Speaking Out: Looking at the next 150 years

By  Vanessa Chan, Youth Speak News
  • June 28, 2017

As a frequent rider of the subway, I have seen the Canada 150 ads that feature influential young adults and posing the question of how they will shape the future of our country.

They are people of all kinds, from athletes to artists to community leaders, and it amazes me what they have been able to accomplish at such a young age. It actually puts me to shame a bit because I then turn the question around and try to fill in my name in the same spot.

Most of the time I fail to find a response that feels all that great. It feels like what I do and my accomplishments are not noteworthy by comparison.

In environments that are at best apathetic to religious belief, I find it difficult to express myself properly in light of the Catholicism that informs my existence. If I can’t do even that, what sort of change could I bring?

In such moments of self-doubt, I remind myself of a few important things.

First, all greatness that I could ever potentially achieve is ultimately a mere reflection of the grace of God. To try and attribute the things I do to my own merit ultimately is a form of pride, despite my apparent humble approach. He works in all ways, and the ways do not have to be earth-shattering for change to happen.

Second, we have the beautiful witness of the lives of the saints, people who have effected change in the lives of those around them and of the universal Church in ways they probably would never know.

Canada has several wonderful patron saints, including St. Joseph, the adoptive father of Christ. St. Joseph didn’t have to break world records or found a charity to be a beacon of change. He was simply a faithful husband and father.

Scripture never mentions anything that St. Joseph actually said. I reflect on this every so often because one would expect such an influential person in the life of Christ to be represented a bit more in the Gospels.

In light of this question on how to instil change in our country, I find this very reassuring. It was not through fame or power that St. Joseph became the protector of our Church, but by being obedient and discerning the will of God.

So let us take heart in the stories of our patron saints — St. Joseph, St. Anne, St. Jean de Brébeuf and the other Canadian martyrs.

The change they brought to our world was a consequence of their love of the Lord and a desire not to be great themselves, but to display the greatness of God. If we truly seek out God’s will for us, we will certainly be forces of change in Canada.

Just as St. Joseph may not have known what it was he was undertaking when he took Our Lady for his wife, we may not know in this life what our small deeds will do, but we can rest assured of their greatness when they stem from the Lord.

(Chan, 25, is a second-year PhD student in psychology at University of Toronto.)

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