Beginnings and endings can be such great moments of grace and inspiration. I’ve learned, and maybe you have too, that it only happens if we are open to it.
For several years now, a gentleman has been adoring in the chapel at my parish the hour after me. He generally arrives early and it took me a long time to take notice of his beginning ritual—which now has become a true moment of grace and inspiration to me.
He’s a rather tall and rangy man and clearly has some issues with his joints. Nevertheless, down he goes on his knees, and then lowers his upper body almost flush with the floor. He stays there a bit, arms outstretched in front of him, hands folded in prayer.
The moment is full of his humility and reverence for his Lord and God, present in the Blessed Sacrament on display in the monstrance. Having become open to noticing it, I’m moved every time he arrives in the chapel and begins his adoration in this way.
Without a word, and surely unaware, he is evangelizing.
We all are called by virtue of our baptism to share Jesus Christ, and often we wonder how to do that. The very word “evangelization” is daunting. This gentleman’s witness is proof of how easy and simple it can be.
Endings too can be powerful moments.
Here at The Bishop’s Bulletin, we witnessed the graceful end of Gene Young’s 19-year tenure as managing editor as he completed last month’s edition and moved into retirement.
As proof day approached, Renae Kranz, the new managing editor, began her work, and Gene shared with her how he went about the building of an issue.
The truth is there are many moving parts to this work, and after 19 years, habits can become rather entrenched. But there was Gene, frequently telling Renae that he was showing her the way he had done it, but surely she would have her own way.
I watched in admiration at Gene’s detailed assistance and at Renae’s openness to all that he offered. It was another form of evangelization, and I hope each edition of The Bishop’s Bulletin offers our readers examples of evangelization in all its many forms.
Beyond The Bishop’s Bulletin, our Communications Office is privileged to experience many other beginnings and endings, as well as the graced moments in between.
For example, we regularly hear from Sunday TV Mass viewers from within our diocese and far beyond. For some in countries where Christianity is essentially forbidden, access to the TV Mass is incredibly meaningful.
For others, the Cathedral of Saint Joseph, from where the TV Mass originates, truly shines as the mother church of the diocese and becomes in essence their home parish. We all long for that connection to our Lord and each other; the TV Mass offers a community of faith for those who, for whatever reason, are unable to attend a parish.
Once again I experience moments of great grace and inspiration and from multiple directions—here are three examples related to the Sunday TV Mass; some are more obviously evangelism, some are more subtle.
The first is from Bishop Paul Swain and Father James Morgan (Cathedral rector) who most often celebrate the Mass, and who do so with great joy. Second, from those who send in notes and donations with comments about how meaningful the Mass is to them or their loved ones.
And third, the far more subtle, are the core of volunteers who attend to the recording of the Mass each week. This group rotates through a schedule where every so often they interrupt their weekend for a couple hours on Saturday afternoon to make sure people can see the TV Mass on Sunday morning.
I don’t think any of them think of themselves as evangelizers, but to me, that’s exactly who they are each time they volunteer to help out.
Perhaps that is the bottom line for all of us who wish to do a better job of being witnesses (evangelists!) for Christ: stay open to witnessing these small moments which are surely around us each day and let them move us. And also seek ways to offer our own simple but inspiring moments to others.
Our world sure seems to need all the grace-filled moments we can muster. If we can find ways to share Christ with others, whether we like the word evangelization or not, we are doing what Christ commanded us to do.