Quellette: How Christian Views on Random Kindness Can Make a Difference

Newman House Catholic Campus Ministry offers community for Catholic Profs. Christa Ouellette, who is involved with the Catholic Campus Ministry, describes how various Christian values have impacted her values and life as a Christian Prof. - Managing Editor / Tara Lonsdorf

When the world feels like it’s swallowing you up or you’re at odds with everything and everyone, where is peace? What happens when you cannot find it within yourself or around you?

We must learn to create peace for ourselves. When we have peace within us, it spreads to others in a beautiful domino effect.

“Random acts of kindness” has been extremely popular over the last few years. I remember when the pandemic first began, everyone seemed to be putting their best foot forward, even though our world had completely flipped upside down. People sewed masks for one another, paid for each
other’s restaurant checks, and even provided necessities and services at no cost. The world was hurting, so people created joy where they could. And those people, in turn, passed on that joy to someone else…and they passed it on…and on again.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux and St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta both remind us to do small things with great love. It is not the act itself, but the effort and love we put into it that matters. It’s about creating joy for others. Joy can bring peace.

What happens when we cannot provide for others? When we believe the world is against us and all is lost, how can we bring joy and peace to others? We must create our own version of peace. You cannot pour from an empty cup.

Christians believe that this source of joy and direction is found in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We find Him through prayer, contemplation, and learning. Something that tends to ease my mind when everything feels wrong is that the Father’s will is still there for me. He has a unique plan
for every single person. His plan is greater than anything we could have imagined for ourselves.

When Jesus’ disciples asked him how to pray, Jesus answered with the Lord’s Prayer. One line that I hold onto is “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” This is vital to understanding how important each life is to God. He loves us enough to plan out a life for us. It is our choice to listen and follow His direction to a greater life.

When I have trouble listening to Him or believing in His will, I make time and space to pray. Prayer and meditation are ways to feel more connected to what is greater than all of us. It can bring peace and clarity to know that you are a small part of something bigger and more complex. Knowing that you have a place in this world, you’re connected to more than what’s around you and that your troubles are not permanent can bring a sense of inner peace.

When you’re “armed” with peace, it can help minimize or even diminish the chaos that once affected you. You can pick and choose your battles, then face them head-on.

Recently, I decided to go to daily Mass at a local church that wasn’t my parish. I’ve been feeling a little bit of the “weight of the world” between midterms, a death in my family, and just overall high tensions on campus. In Catholicism and the orthodox church, the Eucharist is believed to be the body and blood of Christ. The main purpose for holding Mass is to celebrate the Eucharist. The word “Eucharist” translates to “thanksgiving.” Receiving the Eucharist and listening to the Word made me feel centered again.

Afterward, I just sat in the quietness of the church. I went to meditate with my rosary when a small group of women began to pray the rosary aloud a few seats over. I sat with them, and we prayed together, out loud. Once they were done I thanked them for their kindness for allowing me, a stranger, to pray with them. The peace and wholeness I felt were exactly what I needed.

That small act of including me in their group made the world feel less overwhelming for a little while. It allowed me to find my center again. With their help, I created peace within myself.

Small acts of kindness and love can create joy.
Joy can create peace. Peace can be shared with others.

“May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be?
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you.”

– St. Thérèse of Lisieux

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