Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Hail Mary for every horn honk

Just to be on the safe side, we interpret every horn honk as a prayer request and pray a Hail Mary for that car’s passengers’ intentions. Some honks are short, repetitive, and joyful. Others are drawn-out and indicating irritation. We figure that in both cases – whether it be in thanksgiving for their support or for the softening of whatever in them leads to disgust – our prayers are appropriate.

We get all sorts of responses from passing cars: smiles, thumbs-ups, hand waves, car honks, and only an occasional frown, thumbs-down, or growl. I wonder: What makes these people acknowledge us? For all the support we receive, can they really read “Real Love Rejects Abortion” on the back of our shirts while they’re passing at 40 mph? Do they recognize the Vatican flag? Do they take encouragement from the Jerusalem crosses (with the Eucharist overlaid) on our fronts or the four-foot pole topped with a crucifix that we carry? Or are they just acknowledging our waves to them? Or is it just a novelty to see a half-dozen young people walking down the road side?

Some people are even excited or curious enough to stop and talk with us or to call out to us from their front yard. For instance, recently we’ve met:

  • A minivan-driving Protestant minister with five kids who was thrilled to find out that we were pro-life
  • Alan, a groundskeeper for the United Church of Cabot, VT, who brought us flavored water and low-card Hershey kisses and had his pastor invited us to spend the night if we needed a place
  • Nancy and David, an older couple, who invited us onto their front porch for water and popsicles, and gave Vicki a pair of crutches when they heard her leg was injured
  • Erin, the newspaper reporter who had interviewed Joel and Jess then drove to find us to give us blueberries and grapes
  • James, a bicycler who replied to the news that we were heading to Washington DC with, “Oh, I used to be homeless there,” and then gave us ten dollars

Admittedly, in the weeks before joining this group, I prayed, “Why, Lord, why have You give me the least functional, least rational way of serving You?” I mean, surely there could be more effective ways to spread the Gospel of Life and Theology of the Body than to amble down the side of the road for 1100 miles and nine weeks.

The beautiful thing, though, about walking is that it gives us the chance to meet people like these – regular ordinary folks – who can take hope from our message. Walking provides a medium by which we can encounter people. It gives those people who we encounter a reason to be curious about what we stand for. It gives the Holy Spirit tremendous flexibility to have us meet the people who need to hear the Gospel of Life and Theology of the Body the most.

Our aim is not to convert, but to evangelize. We seek not to change hearts – because ultimately we won’t be able to – but simply to share the great Truths we’ve discovered and to be channels through which the Holy Spirit can flow in order that He might change hearts.

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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.