Sunday, September 16, 2007

GONE FISHING

Priests will not save the world. Well, they won't influence the guy you work with, or your friend at school, or your pen pal, or your Aunt Matilda into a deeper relationship with God or more active in church mostly because they don't see these people. I always find it amazing also that people are actully afraid of me because I am a priest. (Nobody was afraid of me in high school.) But that is why the new evangelization is so heavily reliant on relationships - the relationships you have with famiy and friends to bring them into the practice of faith. If you don't do it who will?

Here is a six minute video on why people do not share their faith.







We could aslo add #9: Because Miss Manners said it was impolite, though Monsignor Manners says it is perfectly alright.


Today we have a guest blogger. A young person yet she had many spiritual children. No longer afraid to bring up topics of faith she has brought people closer to Christ. And many of the people are those others might think too hard of a case to even try. I asked her to guest blog and tell about us about it.

Do you think you are one of the few who really WANT God? You know that YOU want to serve Him, but your best friend or that guy at the office…hmmm, not so much. When I was younger I believed what I saw on TV: people are callous, cool, beautiful, having a good time, and have no interest in God. It has taken me a lifetime to figure out that in the real world everyone is hungry for God. These are just a few stories of unlikely “seekers” I have met in my past.

I once went bowling with a bunch of friends that included a guy who was a hard core drug user. He flung his bowling ball into the wrong lane, still actually hit a pin or two, turned around, looked at us bug-eyed, stroked his hair back firmly with his fingers and growled, “I love this gaaaame!” I heard years later that he became a rather passionate Christian of some form, is currently clean….and is convinced he’s going to hell. Arrrrrg! I wish could tell him about confession.

I have a friend who scoffs at the faith but, by worldly standards, appears to have it all. I told him I was making a novena of masses leading up to Christmas. He humbly said, “Oh, good girl! Pray for me. I need it.” He can’t understand why he has everything, but still isn’t happy.

I dated a guy with a troubled past who never saw the inside of a church in his life. He told me that, even though I don’t believe in sex outside of marriage, if I think lust is wrong, I shouldn’t even be doing ‘X, Y, and Z’. He was right! Where did HE get an insight like THAT? I’ve heard through the grapevine of his hunger for faith. He’s an Augustine or an Aquinas waiting to happen.

I hung out with a band that I did a song with blasphemous lyrics. I told them I didn’t like the song for that reason, fully expecting they would tell me to buzz off because the song was really popular. They immediately agreed to stop doing it! I was good friends with their drummer, and once when he and I were alone at a bar, he started asking me about God. I barely discussed the subject because I thought he would think I was weird. Besides, it would put a damper on the ‘X, Y, & Z’ later that night. Oh, how I regret it!

I once told a friend that I pray for him every night, thinking he could care less. He stopped me, very seriously one night and said that was the nicest thing anyone had ever said to him.

I had a friend who was a creepy, womanizing alcoholic. One night he revealed to me that he always wanted to become Catholic so he could “do that thing that they do” – the sign of the cross!

I had a college friend whose life was full of chaos and who was hostile to the faith. I wanted to give him the “God talk”, but it always seemed like such a downer when we were having a good time. After years of separation, he made a surprise visit and I got my second chance to talk. He was enraptured! Turns out he married a very Christian girl and is surprised at how much fun he has with her very Christian family. I know he once thought that if he were with me, he could share my peace. Maybe now he will find his own.

I am always surprised at the reactions I get when I give away a scapular. I gave one to a delinquent teen and she put it on right away, OVER her shirt, without a shred of embarrassment. I gave one to a young man covered in tattoos and piercings, and he received it with such joy that he exclaimed, “Oh, I’m going to put it on right now!” My mentor at work lived a rather debauched life, but shortly before he died I gave him a scapular (we were at odds at the time personally) and he took it with the most angelic smile, wanting to know the details of how to wear it. A friend who claims he has abandoned the faith revealed to me that he carries one in his wallet. When my niece was little she told me, “If I had one of those, I would wear it all the time!” but I didn’t want her to get snide comments from her peers (like I had), so I didn’t give it to her. I hope I am making it up to her now.

These are just a few stories; I could tell dozens more. In hindsight, I have learned some very specific things about God and human beings. This is what I know:
1) EVERYONE is hungry for God.
2) Ignorance, not hostility, keeps most people away from Him.
3) Intelligence - faith = insanity
4) The world is crawling with wanna-be priests.
5) Poor catechesis “inoculates” Catholics against the faith.
6) People who have had no religion at all in their lives gratefully devour the faith (now I know why Jesus preferred thieves and prostitutes)
7) Truth does its own work – people are attracted to it even if the messenger is lousy
8) If I were a nun I think I would walk past public schools wearing a sandwich board saying “If you are hungry for God, follow me”. Filling the Catholic churches would be like shooting fish in a barrel.
9) Same goes for juvenile detention centers for girls. With a little catechesis, you could paint a new sign over the center that reads “Sisters of the Holy Eucharist”.
10) The most inspiring words are just seeds on rocky ground if you don’t stay involved in friends’ spiritual lives. Talk to them. Give them books. Invite them to mass or confession with you. Encourage them to watch EWTN. Make sure they know that no problem is so awful that you won’t listen and help if you can.
11) The greatest deterrents to holiness are discouragement and exaggerated anxiety. (I lifted that quote from St. Faustina’s diary). This is the only thought that keeps me brave against the world.

I let a lot of people down in my past because I was too cowardly to talk about my faith. About two years ago I had my breakthrough moment when I ignored my fears and spoke openly about my faith when asked. Life has been “interesting” ever since. I am writing this just after a party hosted by the girlfriend who unwittingly unleashed the missionary in me, and who is soon to be my goddaughter. I was surprised at the end of the party when Jeff said not to forget him during all the good-bye hugs. He’s a drummer in a rock band, covered with scary tattoos, and has that low, droning voice that says, “Dude, I smoke LOTS of weed.” I’ve been told, to my surprise, that he’s been on a desperate search for God in recent years. At one point he was willing to give the devil a chance, if meant he would get some peace. Last I heard, he was a Jehovah’s Witness. You never know who’s hungry. I’m still watching for my opportunity to get my meat hooks in his soul. Say a prayer for me and my spiritual babies, guys!

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh, you're so right, and your witness here literally brought tears to my eyes. We let people down when we don't cross that uncomfortable line, because indeed, all are searching just as we did. We (I) always feel my words will fall flat on their face if I cannot speak like the angels, and there was one time when I most particularly didn't want to be in the moment I found myself. It was at a small child's birthday party, and a very jolly guy and I found ourselves in the kitchen alone. He said, "I hate these things, you know." I asked why, and he told me of how at his little nephew's birthday party, the boy's dad had left to go get some more goodies, and had run over his beloved little boy as he backed out his car. The little one had come out to try his new BigWheels again, and no one had known.

So this (Catholic) former uncle in the kitchen who could never move beyond that moment, said in rage to the only other Catholic at the party, "That's a loving God, is it?? This kid was so friggin' loved.. How can a 'loving' God allow such a thing, that a man kills his own child on his birthday??" I had never felt more helpless to help, and never felt more mute! I begged the Holy Spirit to give him peace. Joe was waiting for my answer, tho', and I almost expected to be belted in the head for whatever was about to come forth; what if it only added salt to the wound? "Aw, Joe, I don't know; there seems no answer we could ever understand." He stared at the floor. Then the rest came forth, "Maybe this is where faith comes in." His rage paused, and to my shock, he nodded, "Yes. Maybe so. Hey, I'm going out to watch them do the pinata. I'll see ya later."

But you've shown me that maybe we don't even have to beg the Holy Spirit in moments of Christ's coming (tho' it can't hurt); maybe we who have received His body and blood have His authority to help heal within us already. Maybe we just have to open our mouths and be honest. About joy, pain, mystery.

(JustMe)

Anonymous said...

I came back just now to view the video, and I don't think I've laughed that hard in years. (And for a moment, I had to wonder if Mel Gibson had a hand in some of the scenes,lol.) Oh.May.God.bless.all.who.did.this.video!! I hope you don't mind, but I've GOT to link to it. This is so very REAL!!

Fr. V said...

JustMe

Thanks for sharing that powerful story!

You are so cool

Anonymous said...

Wow! That was so me! I was involved in a highschool youth group but would cringe if anyone (even friends in the group) would ask me anything regarding my faith, religion, or what I thought. I would pray that something or someone would distract the conversation. I was also one that was afraid of priests. Not for who they were, but for Who they represented. I would hear about these priests who left the priesthood & got married (and I was sure that I would be the one they would marry). Ok, ok, (shaking my head in embarrassment) ego - and absolute absurdity. It's amazing how God works. His Mercy (yes, capital M) and faithfulness is truly amazing!

Many many years later, I practice my faith openly, even at work. I have Holy Water at work, I carry my Rosary everywhere I go, and I am open to hear and tell others about faith. What I have found is that many people are open to listen...although they may not believe (right away). In fact, I was able to share my faith (and plant a seed) during my OBGYN appointment (okay, God, not my best time, but you made sure that I was humbled and would stay put to share).

I have also found that I have a deep respect for priests and WHO they represent. I find myself cheering in my heart every time I see someone going to confession. From everything that I am reading right now, WE, the lay, are the disciples, and we need to help our priests gather the believers and non-believers. What an awesome (and humbling) responsibility!

Anonymous said...

*red with embarrassment* Well, that's what I get for trying to do things MY way.... God humbles me again. There is a great freudian slip in my comment above. (I guess the humbling continues...shaking my head).

Fr. V said...

;>) LOL

Adoro te Devote said...

LOL!

Anon, if you hadn't pointed out the foible, it wouldn't have been noticed....

When I was away from the Church, priests terrified me, too, and for who and what they represent. I was struggling with a lot of questions but didn't trust anyone to give me the right answers. Christians who lived their faith were very attractive to me, and we had great discussions...but they weren't Catholic. And I was seeking CATHOLIC answers.

I considered looking for a priest, but again, they were terrifying to me because I actually thought they would tell me I had to go to Confession (which I did...guilty concience there) but there was NO WAY I was going to do that because that encompassed several questions and I wasn't ready. And I didn't trust God enough or trust any random priest enough to realize that I couldn't do that.

When I did venture into Mass, I sat in the back of the church so that I wouldn't be noticed and could make a quick escape. And I avoided everyone because as far as I was concerned, EVERYONE was Holy and I was going to Hell. And even when I ventured into my current parish, I avoided people, I sat in the back, and I avoided the priests. It was like I had a sign on me..."I don't belong here because I'm a HUGE sinner".

Hmm...this might be better in a blog post. And I have me to say so I'll stop here for now.

In any case, if there had been a FAITHFUL Catholic in my life during that time, what a difference it could have made! And God did try to make that happen but I was still running away. (Its part of my conversion story on my blog).

OK, must go write more on this topic....

Seriously people....speak UP!

(Um...this is a late entry...is anyone still reading this post?)

sparky said...

You know how they say your life flashes before your eyes before you die. Well, when a person sees a priest, their conscience flashes before their eyes! I know that's hard for me to smile at that too! Don't take it personally Fr. V. There is also an element of awe in seeing the collar. It's like seeing a soldier in his uniform. It says, "This man stands for something higher."

Fr. V said...

Adoro - Looking forward to that post!

Sparky - You are right! Even from the pulpit if I see someone in uniform I am moved - the uniform means something.

Must ponder . . .

Adoro te Devote said...

OK, Father V. post is written. It's not really what I expected to write, though.

sparky said...

"Nobody was afraid of me in high school."

I think you owe us a yearbook picture.

Fr. V said...

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!