Tuesday, May 30, 2006

If you are what you should be . . .

"Be a saint; be who you are," Margaret Adams, a local youth minister, told us yesterday during training. Though her talk focused on tips of how to talk to teens about Theology of the Body, this advice stuck with me the most.

There's a similar line used by Pope John Paul II, which I think originally came from St. Catherine of Siena: "If you are what you should be, you will set the world ablaze." Even six hundred years after her death, its simple formula still bowls me over.

Later in the afternoon, we were treated to ideas from Luke and Angela, an engaged couple just a bit older than us, on how to teach Theology of the Body through swing dancing. They talked about how swing dancing reflects the differences between male and female. Whether I’m initiating a spin or just keeping the rhythm, when I’m dancing, I as the man take the lead; at the same time, I can’t do whatever gyration strikes my fancy or I’ll totally throw my partner off track; it mimics how God has called me as a man to be a “receptive giver.” Likewise, the woman must follow my lead and receive it and respond to it; her swing dancing role mirrors God’s call to her to be an “active receiver.”

Even more, this “gift” that I offer and my partner receives could be thought of as bearing the fruit of “a joy of dancing.” It serves as an analogy for one of Theology of the Body’s major themes. The man offers; the woman receives; the “joy of dancing” is borne. God offers; Christ receives; the fruit of the Holy Spirit is borne. Christ offers; the Church receives; the fruit of baptized Christians is borne. Husband offers; wife receives; fruitfully, life is born.

(I’m not much of a song and dance guy, so after almost three hours, I’d had my fill. But Luke and Angela’s description the dance floor flair of Fr. Mike Scanlon – the seventy-some former president of Franciscan University – at a friend’s recent wedding made me chuckle. If he can swing dance, so can I.


Also, I've got to give our ladies credit for putting up with sweaty guys that didn't really know what they were doing.)

Beyond their dancing expertise, theological insights, and generosity with their time, Luke and Angela gave us a shining example of using their God-given abilities to work towards His glory. They took us back to St. Catherine of Siena. You could just imagine how if everyone incorporated their talents with their Faith so well, what amazing things could be done.

If you are who God intends for you to be, you will set the world ablaze. I think that there are few things as encouraging as seeing this in action.

Even Jesus lived this out. I nearly jumped out of my seat when I heard His address to His Father in this morning’s Gospel: “I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do.”

“By accomplishing the work that you gave me to do.” The work given to Him to do. Jesus didn’t bring us salvation by following His own plan, but seeking out and living out what His Father had laid out for Him.

Within our group, we will need to key in to what talents God has given us. How can they contribute to the good of the group? How can they fit together? How can we nurture the humility to not jump to the limelight, nor shirk from responsibilities, but to seek out and live out what God has laid for us for this trip?

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Who we are?

Every summer we, the Missionaries of the Eucharist, are walking from Lewiston, Maine to Washington, DC to proclaim the beauty of the Catholic faith to everyone we meet, specifically through the Theology of the Body.

Conversion begins in our own hearts,which is why prayer is so important to our ministry. For this reason, everyday of our ten week walk begins with daily Mass. By receiving Christ in the Eucharist, we are given the grace to be the Love of Christ not only to those in our community but also to those we meet in the streets.

We walk throughout the day to be a witness of love. We are grounded in prayer-we pray with our lips, our hearts, and our bodies. In walking an average of twenty-five miles per day, we offer our fatigue as a gift of love to Christ and the people we meet. Our walking is both sacrifice and prayer.