Monday, June 19, 2006
"Mary gets them every time"
we're Catholic, the conversation takes off.
6:30 pm, June 9. "Who goes there? My name is George, and I am keeper of the gate."
There wasn't any gate, but only the road shoulder of Route 2 West in hilly, misty,
green Vermont, flanked by a bed and breakfast and a cow pasture.
Goerge wore full fly-fishing gear, complete with a long pole and ballcap with a
feather pinned to the bill. He had long blond hair. Later, he told us he was 51. His
ex-mother-in-law, Virginia, who he called "the first woman who ever really loved
him," died a few months ago. He used to go with her to Mass.
From the start, he was probably eyeing the Jerusalem cross with the Eucharist laid
on top. Maybe he also saw "Missionaries of the Eucharist" right on top of that.
I don't remember how we got to it, but right from the start, he had off-balance edge
to his voice, "Oh, so you're Catholic?" as if to say, "Don't you know how terrible
His kids had been raised Catholic, but never really been presented with the fullness
of the Faith. Aside from Virginia, the Catholics he'd known hadn't given George a
very good impression.
Since then, he'd found Jesus in the Baptist church, through a conversion climaxed by
a jail-cell commitment. Much of his spirituality was steeped in anti-Catholic ideas
contrary to the fullness of Faith.
We talked about the Eucharist and John chapter 6 and how if Jesus had meant "eat my body"
symbolically He wouldn't have let His disciples walk away thinking that He hadn't.
About sola scriptura's inappropriateness and how it wasn't until the fourth century
that the Council of Rome formally settled the Bible's canon. About how Jesus gave
the power to forgive sins not just to the apostles but to all priests since He
intended for the Holy Spirit to work through the Church even today. We had really
good arguments. But - in hindsight - intellectually, George just wasn't ready to concede
All the while, I'd been hanging in the back, trying to come up with good responses,
but usually not being able to sneak them in. George had a habit of tailing off into
tangents about his many struggles.
At one point, Leslee suggested that he ask Virginia to pray for him, but he
immediately dismissed the possibility of someone deceased caring enough or even
having the capacity to pray for him.
After an hour, it was time for us to move on. It was nearly dark and George had
decided that we were worthy to pass "through the gate." Still, many issues felt
unresolved, and I wanted to leave George with something. I couldn't decide: one of
our Missionaries about-us brochures; or a Rosary.
I really had no reason to think that George would accept a Rosary: He'd think of it
as praying to dead people, as idolizing Mary, as depicting Jesus on the Cross
instead of as Resurrected. The brochure would still give him a good picture of our
focus; it would introduce him to Theology of the Body; he might even see the web
address and check our website. I've taken consolation with the chance to leave
brochures with plenty of folks like George.
But my light blue (blessed Mary blue) Rosary had a Miraculous Medal on it,
representing a special devotion given by Mary to St. Catherine Laboure. I remembered
my friend Kevin who would give Miraculous Medals to the most unlikely characters. I
thought of Msgr Reilly who gives Rosaries to folks leaving abortion mills with the
encouragement, "If you pray, you won't have to come back."
So I swallowed my rationale and gave George my Rosary, saying, "Here is a gift
[another Msgr Reilly line], by which you can remember to pray for us."
He took it from my closed hand, saw that it was a Rosary, and put it on the side of
the road. Hmmm, I'd been worried he might do that.
He put out his hand for a handshake, and pulled me closer. He was going to go
through the whole explanation of why a Rosary was going to spell my demise, I knew
But no! To my huge surprise, as he pulled me into a hug, and whispered with emotion,
"Thank you." Moments later, he picked up the Rosary and explained, "Yes, I'll take
it. I'll pray for you. I know what this is. It's a Rosary. Virginia used to have one
Amazing! Mary gets them every time. Jesus through His mother. So now George has our Rosary.
We pray that Jesus might work through His mother and through George's divorced wife's mother (hopefully
now in Heaven) to bring George even closer to Him.
Who we are?
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.