Austrian Adventures: Turning on the Light

By Eleanor O’Hagan

Okay, as I’m sure everyone has already heard, the ten-day break for Austria students was a little scary. I was in France when the news broke out that Israel was declaring war, and the Franciscan students on pilgrimage were still in the Holy Land.  

Thankfully, everyone’s prayers were answered and all made it back to Austria safely.  

On Oct. 13 I was still in France and opted to stay in a small town outside of Paris because of the call for jihad from Hamas. Although I never was afraid anything horrible would happen there, I still wanted to steer clear of crowded places that could easily become riled up. 

Upon this decision, I was told that I shouldn’t live in fear, but my choice to stay was quite the opposite of fear. 

I completely agree that we should not be living in fear or letting the anxieties of this world completely dictate how we live. But, because a person is not boldly living out their faith in the face of danger, does that make their faith any greater than the hermit?  

As Christians, we are to always live our faith boldly, and our witness to the faith is a light that must be turned on both in the midst of danger and in the sleepy town on a hill. 

The sacrifice and devotion of the daily life of a Catholic is just as important as the martyr’s death for Christ.  

Maybe not in the same way, but both are still equally important, especially in our world today. 

About two years ago I stumbled upon the story of Bl. Franz Jagerstatter and his wife Franziska. During the Second World War, Franz refused to take the oath to Hitler, resulting in his execution and later being declared a martyr.  

His wife, on the other hand, faced a great deal of scrutiny and her own persecution from the people in their village for supporting her husband’s choice. 

Despite being rebuked even by the local church, Franziska continued to live out her Christian life, acting as an example and being a light for her children and those she encountered in her day-to-day life.  

In this crazy world I think its important to not forget the everyday, ordinary life. We should be fighting for it. It’s easy to become caught up in times of trouble.  

Anxieties are bound to run high, and whether you find yourself in a place of fear or charging into battle with only the Lord as your protection, I would like to invite you to pause.  

Look around at the people in your life, and think of all you dream of. Think of the ordinary life in our current society. 

Even when we are not plagued with the fear of war, our world is crying for the light of Christ to be in their lives.  

Sometimes it’s even worse not being in the center of danger, simply hanging on the edge, waiting for the darkness to finish swallowing up the earth.  

It does not have to be the same for us. As Catholics we live in the hope of the resurrection, and it’s our job to share this hope.  

I’ll end with a quote from Harry Potter. Yes, I know many at Franciscan may disagree with this series but hear me out. 

The quote goes like this: “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”  

Now to get philosophical here, true happiness is the ultimate goal of all mankind. And true happiness lies in Christ alone. 

So, to help others find this happiness, we must turn on the light and show them the way.