BY LAUREN RAMSEYER
When students fail to devote time to personal prayer, it is an indication of a shallow life in the Lord, said Joanne Storm on the evening of Nov. 18 at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Storm is a professor of mental health and human services at Franciscan University. She spoke to a small group of students at an event sponsored by the Warriors of the Word household.
The first beatitude, “blessed are the poor in spirit,” is really a gateway to the rest of the Beatitudes, said Storm.
“The idea that you have to be dependent on the Lord and trust in the Lord is the (Beatitude) that makes the other Beatitudes possible,” said Storm. “Saying ‘yes’ to God not only transforms us, but it transforms the whole world.”
Storm has noticed two things on campus that show how students tend to fight against this poverty of spirit: a lack of prayer and the illusion of never having enough or needing more to be happy.
“You were set aside for his holy purpose,” said Storm. “In order to truly fulfill that baptismal call, it is necessary to set time aside on a regular basis for personal prayer. … I still oftentimes see students struggling in this area.”
While households, ministries, mission trips and community are all good things, they can sometimes keep students from getting to know the Lord better through personal prayer, said Storm. She encouraged students to take advantage of all the time they have in their single years to pursue a life of personal prayer.
The second problem Storm has noticed on campus is that pursuit of material things and worldly pleasures can keep students from attaining true spiritual poverty. She said that in order to combat this, students can begin to accept and find joy in troubles that come their way and thank God for the suffering they face.
“Let the suffering transform you and teach you how to rely more deeply on the Lord,” said Storm. “If you want to practice this, one of the things St. Alphonsus de Liguori noted was that one of the first steps in accepting the will of God is to accept the weather he sends.”
Storm continued to elaborate how the acceptance of suffering is directly related to the first Beatitude and how the saints exemplified this acceptance. Two saints that she focused on were saints Thérèse and Theresa of Avila.
“They saw that because (God) loved them so much, everything that comes from him is a gift,” said Storm, referring to the physical and spiritual sufferings of the saints.
She encouraged students to follow the saints’ examples and ask God “what” he wants you to learn from the situation instead of asking “why” something bad is happening.
“It really spoke to me to live in the present moment,” said Kathryn Ferrante, coordinator of Warriors of the Word household, about Storm’s talk. “Having that spirit of poverty and being thankful at every moment … being able to stop and look at what I have … and praise God that I am here and just be with him in the moment. That is what satisfies the heart.”
Another household coordinator, Casey Boerner said, “One of the main points was personal prayer. It is so easy for us to get involved … but I think we sometimes underestimate the importance of sitting in silence before the Lord and just asking what he wants for our lives.”
Storm ended the talk by encouraging all present to come to the chapel with her to pray.