Financial Crisis God’s Opportunity

Two years ago, my husband and I did what most Americans have been compelled to do. We sat down and took a long, hard look at our family finances.

A day or two later, I glanced at the calendar and realized it was the Feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Hoping to mark the day on my blog, I picked up my laptop and began searching for good quotes to share with readers. I felt God’s chastisement as I read St. Elizabeth’s words. “Live simply, so that others may simply live.”

I was in a quandary. I enjoyed writing so much that I did not want to give it up to go back to teaching. And yet, I knew that God did not want us to remain fiscally irresponsible. I poured out my heart to my dear friend and spiritual mentor. She suggested two things: spend some time in good old Ignatian discernment and place a special petition to Our Lady of Good Remedy.

Our Lady of Good Remedy. In that moment, I encountered another new title for Our Lady. Okay, Blessed Mother, I’m going to give you a big job. You know the situation. Help us to find a good remedy.

In February of 2011, my daughter moved in with us, along with our two grandsons. The financial burden was magnified. We had always told our grown children that they had a place with us if they were ever going through a crisis. In our home, there would always be a bed and food on the table. Would we be able to remain true to our promise without going further into debt?

I redoubled my prayer effort. Our Lady of Good Remedy, remember me. St. Ignatius, help me to discern well.

Last spring, I scanned job postings on the archdiocesan website. Nestled among the rolling hills of Missouri wine country, there was a little school that needed a teacher. My education and experience matched the job description. I said another prayer and drafted a cover letter.

I still wasn’t sure about returning to the classroom, but Our Lord’s words kept playing in my head.

When I was hungry, you realized you couldn’t give me any food because you were trying to pay off all those meals you put on your charge cards.

When I was naked, you wanted to give me something to wear, but you were too overwhelmed by the mortgage on that custom-built home and the two vehicles you bought when you really should have waited.

It’s time to take care of the mess you made so that you can say yes to Me when I need you.

Within twenty-four hours of sending my resume and cover letter, I had an interview. I left the house early that Friday morning in order to pray the Mass with the students and teachers before the interview. I dipped my fingers in the holy water, genuflected, and knelt to pray. Our Lady of Good Remedy, pray for me. St. Ignatius, help me to discern God’s will.

A few minutes after I entered the church, some middle school students walked the aisle, small children in tow. I watched as the older students modeled the faith beautifully to the little ones beside them. The older students quietly waited for each small child to genuflect. At times, a student would help his or her prodigy to try again, this time facing the altar rather than the pew or the back of the church. This time, using the right hand rather than the left. This time, beginning the Sign of the Cross with the forehead, then crossing from left to right. No words were needed. The younger students were so enamored by their guardians that they watched and imitated every movement. Faith was being passed from one child to another right before my eyes. Cooperative learning had entered the realm of the divine!

I had never seen anything like it. I wanted to write about it. To proclaim this beautiful thing to every reader. On a hill in rural Missouri, I have seen a profound example of Catholic education.

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Denise Bossert is a convert and a syndicated columnist. Her column has been published in 60 diocesan newspapers. She attends Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Missouri.

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