Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Uniting Our Sufferings With Christ's Passion On The Cross


To quote a phrase very commonly used in our group, "Praise God!"


This morning I found myself nearly collapsing on the floor at Mass, as the result of 2 1/2 weeks of hobbling on leg injuries without seeing a doctor. Last year, while doing a similar pro-life walk, I watched as three girls ended up in the hospital- one of which had to sit out for a month, and another who ended up leaving us because she needed to be on bed rest for 6 weeks in order to heal. I was the lucky one last year. I didn't have a single injury. I was quite amazed, as my body is fairly fragile. I promised myself that if I ever got injuries, I wouldn't let it go for long. But I admit that I am human, and in my humanness, like all of us at some time or another, I have let an injury continue before seeking adequate and appropriate help.

So today, all of us girls embarked on a grand adventure to the emergency room at Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, NH. This proved to be another adventure in spiritual warfare, as satan obviously did not want me to get to the hospital, because for some reason the car would not start. This resulted in an emergency novena being prayed by all, and a break down on my part- I began to cry because the prayer and the atmosphere of spiritual warfare (God's will against satan's attacks) was so emotional. Jesus and Our Blessed Mother pulled through quickly, as always, and got us to the hospital safe and sound. My legs were iced, examined, and X-rayed, and I still do not know the full diagnosis; but not to fear- it isn't anything to be worried about. For the most part it's messed up shin splints.

The past 3 weeks I have wanted so badly to walk, but God had a different plan. It's very embarrassing, annoying, frusterating, and most definitely humbling to be sitting in the van most of the day, just reading, writing, praying, and sleeping, while everyone else enjoys the sunshine and nature and gets to know one another better; to have both the guys and the girls carrying me back and forth, up and down several flights of stairs, across parking lots, and even into bathrooms (which I try to accept with a sense of humor... because... come on, you have to laugh at yourself sometimes, otherwise you will end up depressed. Plus, how many 23 year olds get several piggy-back rides per day?)

Being in pain brings a whole new perspective and dimension to understanding the Theology of the Body. In being a Catholic, and realizing the infinite value of redemptive suffering, I've offered it all up, uniting every pain and frustration to Christ's own sufferings in His great Love and Passion and Death on the Cross, hoping that something good will come out of it. After all, the purpose of the first month of this walk, in many ways, is to sacrifice for others, and offer up prayers for them constantly. God chose my body as an instrument for this mission, and perhaps this is the way He wants to work through me right now. In lifting up the pain into his hands, He can in turn bless others and convert hearts. Maybe even save babies. That is my hope. And that is why redemptive (or sacrificial) suffering rules. (Man, I love being Catholic!) When our pains are united to Christ, and we offer up prayers, suffering is not in vain. It has great purpose; much greater than we could ever imagine.


Here is a little description of redemptive suffering, taken from consecration.com:


"Theology of Redemptive Suffering:
Sacrificial suffering is a rich Christian faith expression, modeled after Christ himself. It is a partial answer to the age-old question, "Why does God allow human suffering?" The Church has always taught that physical pain, mental distress, even minor annoyances, are not meaningless but are meant to be put to valuable use. As Jesus used the anguish of his Passion and the agony of Calvary to accomplish our salvation, so do our sufferings have supernatural value when joined to the Cross. By willingly accepting our struggles and presenting them back to God as a "burnt offering" for the intentions of others, we cooperate with Christ and become real participators in the mystery of his saving act."


God bless you all; you are in my prayers. Please pray for us as we continue on this journey with Christ, walking alongside Him, both in joys and in sufferings. Pray for us to be protected against the snares of the devil. Pray that God will use each of us, and our bodies, to glorify His Kingdom, and to truly (and literally!) bring the Theology of the Body to the streets!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

"This is another theologian!"


So, apparently Dr Alice von Hildebrand summers in Keene, New Hampshire.

As we were walking across the parking lot this morning on the way to Mass, a woman called out to us. "Are you all the theologians that are walking?"

"I suppose you could say that."

"Well, this is another theologian!"

The woman, whose name we failed to acquire, thereafter introduced us to none other than Dr Alice von Hildebrand, famous German philosopher. Her husband was the late Dietrich von Hildebrand. We love chance meetings. Hui!

Morning Shifts


After just getting finished iwht a morning shift and driving back to the place where we're sleeping, I noticed how the fog had not yet risen in the town, making it seem as if it was still sleeping. As I had walked out of the town two hours earlier to begin the shift, the fog was present, but the light of morning was quickly coming. The difference on the road and in the town was stark, and it really made me contemplate how that can be so true in our lives.

Often when we begin some sort of task, we can venture out into the unknown hoping for the best, even knowing that the Lord will provide us with what grace we need to make it through, yet when we take a break before having finished what we've set out to do, we might walk right back into the fog that we thought we had left miles ago. When this is true, we need to make sure that we keep our heads held high for the Lord will never leave us alone. Even in the midst of that fog is he ever present. We need to be docile before Him and allow him to work on us as He so wishes. It is only in the giving our ourselves that we will be able to receive, and this is no more true than in our relationship with the Lord God. Only by allowing Him to work in the midst of a foggy period will we find the light on the other side. And only through allowing ourselves to be molded will we truly appreciate the light of the new morn.

Lord, we ask that you form our hearts. May the Holy Spirit speak to us and bring us to an even greater understanding of true docility to your ways. May you shape us and mold us so that may be your emisaries to bring the light of the new day to a world still traveling through the fog. Fiat voluntas tua, semper.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Requiescat in pace


Please pray for Mr. Hahr, the father of Fr. Karl Hahr of the diocese of Burlington. The funeral is this morning. In case you're wondering the connection, Fr. Karl hosted us in Vermont for a night and is a good and holy priest. Please pray for him and his large family as they go through this grieving process.


Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may the perpetual light shine upon him.
May the souls of the faithfully departed, rest in peace.

St. Joseph, pray for us.
St. Dismas, pray for us.
St. Gertrude, pray for us.

"Mary gets them every time"

With some people, we don't even get to talking about abortion. As soon as they hear
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
that is?"

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
Catholicism anything.

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
it.

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
of these."

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.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day

To all our dad's and all the priests who support us, Happy Father's Day!!!

Here's a video showing our appreciation.

Happy Father's Day to the Holy Father Benedict XVI too!

A little more about PJMY


So, we're now in Manchester, NH, and the priests here have been so amazing. We had a great week of walking, and a very fruitful time for growth, both as a community and individually. I have two blog entries from the 10th and 12th saved on a laptop that was donated to us by "the Anne" (pray for her to conceive twins being that she recently was married). But, that is four flights of stairs and a key away right now, so I figured that at least for the time being, I'd put something up.

Just for a little more info, in the last blog posting, I forgot to put that I'd like to become a Dominican. I just graduated from college, and I'd like to enter the Dominicans of the St. Joseph (Eastern United States) Province. So please pray for my vocation.

I also mentioned Rome, in the conversion comment. Well, last summer, I was blessed to be able to travel to Rome before World Youth Day. Stunning! Totally, just a different world. If you've never been, it is probably one of the best possible things that you can do for soul (aside from going to Mass of course). Well, last weekend, we also went to Montreal for a pilgrimage, and the Cathedral of Mary Queen of the World there is modelled after St. Peter's in Rome. They did a great job of down-scaling it, but it doesn't compare to St. Peter's.

Anyway, that's just a little more about me, and the other two postings I wrote last week should be up soon.

Blessed Jordan of Saxony...pray for us

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.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

a cross to bear


In general, I enjoy silence and solitude. i was afraid that the hardest part of community life would be that I'd have no time to myself. As it turns out, the hardest part is being away from the group. since I'm on media duty, I spend a lot of time in the car driving from town to town contacting different media outlets, trying to get the word out. I'm blessed with a different partner each day, so it's not that I'm completely isolated. That's all.

On the plus side, we have been getting a bit of good media (e.g., an hour-long interview on the radio last week). Pray that we continue to see the fruits of this particular work.

Endorsement form Christopher West:


"I am deeply impressed with the Missionaries of the Eucharist. With great courage, zeal, and confidence in the Lord’s victory, they have ventured onto the front lines of a great spiritual battle. Their lives and work are rooted in prayer and sustained by the grace of the sacraments. These young men and women are on fire and they are taking that fire to the streets in very creative and engaging ways."

Christopher West
Fellow, Theology of the Body Institute

Were in the world are the Missionaries of the Eucharist?

Cleremont, NH. However, the first couple weeks of the route is intentionally isolated. They are getting ready for the big crowds to come. It is the calm before the storm, the prayer before the action.

Everyone is alive and doing well. A couple small injuries, but nothing that you wouldn't expect from walking 20-30 miles a day.

A disc full of video's, podcasts and blogs are on the way to civilization. I will post all of them as soon as it get here.

I have heard that the bishops, priests and the laity have all been very excited and supportive of our mission. Praise God. I even heard that a moose and a turle have come out to endorse us. Let all of creation sing a hymn of praise!

The Missionaries got several media hits in local newspapers and radio stations. Praise God! You can be sure to see all the new info on the MoE Site.

Keep up the prayers. Pledge your prayers for the Missionaries at Servants of the Sorrowful Mother.

Monday, June 05, 2006

"If you come upon a corn cob museum, go into it."

During last Thursday’s send-off Mass, Fr. Bill Byrne gave us some wise advice on being “normal." For instance, he encouraged us to “Read the sports page, or the style section.”

(My idea for getting free newspapers is to go to gas stations and ask if they have any of the previous day’s newspapers left over. They’re not going to sell them anyway, right?)

“And if you come upon a corn cob museum, go into it.”

Rather than solely being people of religion, if we are also people of culture, then we can bring religion to the culture.

Fr. Bill continued, “For God's sake, smile!"

I guess it makes a lot of sense that if we come across as “normal” and level-headed we’ll be more effective evangelists. Fr. Bill encouraged us, as Missionaries of the Eucharist, to be like the bread and wine that become the Eucharist - “down to earth” like the bread and bearing the “joy of the Lord” that the wine represents.

This reminds me of the afternoons during my senior year in high school when I’d wrestle over whether to stop at Sts. Peter and Paul – only two blocks from our house – for a quick visit with Jesus on my way home. Something inside of me was drawn to the peace of Blessed Sacrament proximity, but I agonized over whether voluntary church visits equated me with a pious freak.

But you know, stopping in for those five minutes of quality time with the Big Guy wasn’t unreasonable at all. If I believe what I say I believe - that the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, of the Savior of the World resides in that Tabernacle, available for our hello – isn’t that visit a perfectly normal thing to do?

**** Also, Wednesday night, Fr. Dominic from the Dominican House of Studies, gave us a talk on spiritual warfare. At the end of a whole list of things we could do to beat the Devil was: maintain a sense of humor. Many saints were great at it – one of my patrons, St. Philip Neri, was one of the most renowned for it. Staying light-hearted can help us resist the temptations come with daily irritations.

So, we’re aiming for at least one good Catholic joke good a day. If you know any, please send them our way at contact@MissionariesOfTheEucharist.org. Thanks!

Satan is trixy

Many of you know that I am staying behind this summer to work on the website, upload pics, video, podcasts, send out letters, press releases and bills.

If you know that, you probably also know this is a big cross for me. Like a deer that yearns for running streams, so I yearn to serve the Lord on the streets! But alas! Like those photocopied cartoons we often see in our uncles bathroom, "the job is not finished until the paperwork is done."

A preface to this whole saga goes like this: Premise #1: Satan hates humans, especially those humans who reject him and love God. Premise #2: Satan will do anything he can (and has been given power to do by God) in order to tear us away from our Lord. Premise #3: [now this is a new one that I find interesting] Satan has a harder time attacking us directly since we are made in the image and likeness of God. So, he goes after the things we use in order to get to us. Primarily, he uses technology to separate us from God.

Now, this is not, by any means, a fundamentalist protestant condemnation of technology. The Church maintains that all the technology is morally neutral, but has the potential to be a great good or a great evil. We can see how is it used for evil by t he fact that the US brings in over 80 BILLION dollars every year from internet pornography. A positive would be films like the Passion of the Christ that has lead to countless conversions and re-conversions. In fact, the Second Vatican Council gave us an order to go out and baptize all the media in order to preach the gospel more effectively.

That is why there is such a stress in the Missionaries of the Eucharist to use techology to communicate our message. We will try to have a video entry, a blog entry, a podcast, and pictures put up on the site on a daily basis. We already have people comment to us about how touched they are about our simple witness. Over 70,000 people visited our site in the month of May. Nearly 200 people have signed up for our podcast, which was only launched about 2 weeks ago.

All this is leading up to say, Satan obviously does not like what we are doing. To prove it, he is attacking us through our techology. The most egregious thing the Trixy Father of Lies did was catch our motherboard on fire. No reason. There was plenty of room left, plenty of memory, it was not being over-used too much. The techy person from India [whom I spend 4+ hours on the phone with] was flabber-ghasted. Another thing he did was cancel all our cell phone numbers. Now, that is not too bad. We can just go and get new ones. The rub is that we had all our literature and business cards printed with those numbers. We don't have the time or the money to re-print.

However, there are two key points that we do well to keep in mind. Points that I forgot. One, Satan has no authority to act on his own. All power is from God. God grants permission, or allowance, for Satan to try to do his best, knowing all the while that His Grace is infinitely stronger than the demons tricks. Second, like any good father, the Lord wants His children to call on Him in time of need. When being attacked, the answer if prayer, faithfulness and perserverance.

Instead of this making me stronger, I gave into my temper. In fact, it was blind to my rage that I stayed home rather than going to a very good friends wedding. I retreated from the very things that would bring me out of my furry. I became apathetic spiritually, emotionally and physically lethargic .

In truth, what drove me out of it was a good hearty confession. The power of the Sacraments is amazing! God wishes to do great things through the sacraments He gave us. It was like the scales of my heart fell off and the joy of the Lord came in like a good bottle of wine.

Only by the grace of God, working especially through His Sacraments, and also in all the friends He has given me (both on earth and in heaven), am I able to keep up the good fight of Faith.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Propelled Forward by Others

<As we near our departure north, the temptation for doubts has grown. How in the world are we going to pull this off? What are we thinking? Isn't there another way we could have done this? Is there anyone who will listen to us? Will our whole summer go for nought?

In a moment like this, I’ve found great encouragement in thinking about how others' support.

Some have put the unconventional nature of our efforts into perspective. Fr. Paul at St. Mark’s in Hyattsville said, “In our up-side-down world sometimes doing what seems to be up-side-down is perfectly sensible.” When I’d shared my worries about the “stability” that I’d rejected by turning down a summer job, my old roommate Lowell replied: Stable plans don’t also equate with stable hearts. And if you had to pick one or the other . . .

Others have reaffirmed our efforts simply by their generosity. The Newmans (twice!), the Myers, Joey and Britt, Our Lady of the Angels youth group, the Guenthers, and the DeGances have had us over for dinner. Friday morning, the Poor Clare nuns brought out donuts and orange juice for us after Mass. Even with his wife eight months pregnant, JP DeGance – who works for the Leadership Institute – invited us over to his house and helped us refine our slogans until almost 11:00pm. The Myers didn’t flinch when we needed a place to sleep on Saturday night. Last night, Fr. Bill Byrne made us dinner and Fr. Dominic from the Dominican House of Studies joined us for four hours to be a part of our silent retreat. The list goes on and on. We haven’t even left Maryland yet. These people are amazing.

They remind me of the support I’ve received from my parishes - St. Joseph’s in Raleigh and Holy Rosary in Cleveland - and from my family in Pennsylvania. Experiences like Monsignor Williams reassuring me, “You can join the workforce later, I think you’ve made the right decision,” or Fred Karboski promising to keep a candle lit for us all summer, or my eight-year-old sister giving me five dollars right before I left - these are propelling me forward.

I think about all of their promises to pray, the energy in their voice, and the gleam in their eyes. It all says to me, “We believe in you.” Even when I don’t have confidence in myself, they have confidence in me. They have confidence in God working through me. Praise God for how He is working through them to strengthen my resolve to push forward. They believe that what we’re doing is meaningful and they haven’t been afraid to contribute what they can. They hold me accountable in a holy way that, even in tense times like these, helps me to be bold in accepting God’s grace.

Dang it


So Saturday night we went to the lovely house of the Myers for a bbq. Twas a good old Catholic time with roasting marshmellows and eating delicious cake. Scrumptious. While there I became engaged in a conversation with a convert to Catholicism and he relayed a truth so profound that it touches the depths of the soul. While looking at the sins of this world we often contemplate how much Christ must have suffered because of it's godlessness and disbelief in or apathy towards all that He has given us. We also consider our own sins and the suffering He endured because of them. However I realize now that I have not held an accurate account of how much suffering we, at least I, actually cause. As this convert and I were contemplating Christ's passion he looks at me and said

It is you and I who cause Christ the most suffering because we know the Truth and yet we still fall into sin.

"Well, you know how there's sex, right?"



The train ride was long (7 hours). The belligerent man sitting in front of me didn’t help matters. Did he need to tell the train attendant she was so fat that she weighed more than his luggage? Then there was the engine dying, cutting off all electricity and therefore air to the trains cabins.

Mr. Belligerent exclaimed loud enough for everyone to hear, “This is the train ride to hell!” Other passengers and I silently exchanged looks of incredulity. I thought, “If I’d taken a plane I’d be home by now.”

But I hadn't taken a plane. At the last second, I decided to save $42.00 and took the train instead. It just felt like the missionary thing to do. I imagined Blessed Mother Theresa nodding in approval of my frugal ways. I mean, my shirt does say, “Missionary of the Eucharist.” Missionaries do things like sleep on floors, walk across countries, and pray, pray, pray. To a missionary $42.00 is a lot of Rosaries than can be handed out to people on the street. It’s $42.00’s worth of First Nine Month pamphlets that can be handed out to women contemplating abortion.

The magnitude of difference in the course of humanity that $42.00 can propel is difficult to contemplate. So I don’t contemplate it. I leave the how’s and why’s to God; myself simply praying that Thy Will Be Done on Earth as it is in Heaven.

My attachment to the world prevents me from all out embracing poverty. In the train station I betrayed my t-shirt and bought a magazine, and a piece of chocolate.

“Have pillow, will travel.” It’s one of the mantra’s I find circling my mind. Sure, train seats aren’t what one would call sanitary; but I hardly noticed as I curled up and slept like a little kid. A tap on my ankle alerted me to a train attendant seeking my ticket to punch a hole in. Where was I? Delaware? New Jersey? I looked out at the landscape of grass and trees. My location was undeterminable but my destination was assured; I was going home.

Resumes don’t send themselves. As seemingly pious being a full-out missionary may appear, I’ve come to realize that taking care of our personal responsibilities is not only pleasing to God, it is our responsibility. I have been given the gift of a formal academic education. Serving God through teaching band instruments may not be what people picture when they think of noble vocations, but it’s mine and I take it seriously.

On the train I took out a book on the life and influence of Alfred Kinsey. Basically, Kinsey was a zoologist that started studying the sexual habits of humans. His research has culminated as the source of information that has lead to the current sex-education programs in public schools as well as many legal policies regarding what is considered sexual norms versus sexual deviance in the U.S.

The problem is, the people Kinsey studied were known sexual predators, prostitutes, and inmates in jails. The validity of the raw data of his research has been extensively argued against. The book notes, “Even the a distinguished British medical journal The Lancet warned the public that Kinsey had “questioned an unrepresentative proportion of prison inmates and sex offenders in a survey of normal sexual behavior.”

The guy who was sitting diagonally across from me was clearly trying to look at the title of the book. Casually, without looking like I was trying, I positioned the book so he could read the full title: “The Kinsey Corruption: An Expose On the Most Influential ‘Scientist’ Of Our Time” by Susan Brinkmann.

I eventually took out another book, this one titled “Learn Spanish In Twenty-Lessons.” The guy spied on that book title as well. I leaned over and told him, “I’m trying to learn Spanish because I’m walking from Maine to D.C. and Spanish will be handy.”

Haha, that definitely was not what he thought I was going to say. Mr. Belligerent was glaring at us for talking. It was the official quiet section of the train and Mr. Belligerent had already taken it upon himself to chastise a woman for quietly answering her cell phone. The book-spying guy grabbed his stuff and came over to the seat beside me.

“So explain to me what you’re doing.” He inquired.

“Well, I’m part of a group of twelve college age students called the Missionaries of the Eucharist. The express purpose of this summer’s walk is to bring Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body to the streets.”

He looked at me as if I’d just spoken in Swahili. Great.

“What is the Theology of the Body?” he prompted.

“It’s the explanation of God’s design for human sexuality.”

“Hmm… so tell me what the main points are.”

Brain to Elizabeth, Brain to Elizabeth: Use your words, girl.

I pictured Christ on the Cross. I pictured Mary at the foot of the Cross. Giving. Receiving. The differences between man and woman allow us able to come into complete union. It took Pope John Paul II 500 pages to tell us the TOB and theologians have taken hundreds more pages to break it down for us. What was I thinking by putting myself in situations where I’d have to summarize it in 5-second sound bites? How I wished I could just state that the Theology of the Body is the antidote to the culture of death and the theological expression for the new evangelization. I had a feeling I was to be a little more specific.

“Well, you know how there’s sex, right?”

He nodded. Great. Nothing like common ground.

“There’s this idea that sex is just about…well, all people think of when they think of good sex is the orgasm aspect. The point of the Theology of the Body is that there’s so much more to it.”

“Like what?”

“Like bonding and babies. The marital union, so to speak, is a way of bonding, and if you give yourself completely to another person, you are open to a baby. One of the points that we want to make this summer is that if you use contraception, it’s like saying that you reject part of your spouse since you reject their fertility. You can’t bond if you’re not open to life because fertility is part of who we all are. Also, if you are just out to get a baby and aren’t interested in bonding, you are only coveting your spouses fertility and not embracing them totally; that too is not bonding.

“Interesting.”

I thought quickly. I knew I was doing a horrible job. I’d made sex sound boring. Like great, now we’re bonded and now we have a gazillion kids. Yippie.

“Think about it…if you are totally giving of yourself and your wife is totally giving of herself, you’ll both be completed satisfied sexually. Women, by anatomy are natural receivers and likewise men are natural givers; taking it further though, in giving you receive and in receiving you give. At first it may seem like we’re trying to put sex into some sort of box of meaning, but really, we’re embracing the totality of sex it all of it’s goodness. It’s not a prude message, it’s an message upholding the beauty of sex and all of its wonders.”

“Wow, well good luck with your message. I’m Paul by the way.”

We shook hands, “Hi, I’m Elizabeth.”

I asked him, “So what are you on this train, Paul?”

“I was interviewing for a job that will take place in Northern Ireland. The job is to use basketball as a way of bringing Catholic and Protestant kids together.”

“Oh wow. What’s going on there?”

“There’s complete segregation. Catholics and Protestant neighborhoods have their own schools even. The kids are growing up in an environment that fosters mindless discrimination. Just playing basketball together has proven to break down so many social barriers.”

We talked about the politics of Northern Ireland. We talked about what it means to be conservative and liberal in the U.S. He recited the Bill of Rights. I bragged that I keep a copy of the U.S. Constitution with me at all times.

The conversation digressed. We talked about expensive parking meters on college campuses and how binge drinking loses it’s glamour as you get older. We even talked about The Da Vinci Code. (Him: “It’s Fiction.” Me: “It’s crap.”) We talked about how it was so opportune to use our early twenties to skip town and in our own small ways give what we have- even if it’s just our time, even if it’s basketball to kids.

I threw into the conversation that my friends and I pray outside of abortion mills. The second I said it I clarified, “Abortion clinics.”

“Mills” is word people use after seeing women exit, with wombs empty. It’s a word you use after you’ve seen the bio-hazard truck pull up to Planned Parenthood to retrieve the “products of conception.” The positive connotation of “clinic” sounds ridiculous next to the word “abortion.” But to those who don’t know, it’s the person who uses the word “mill” who sounds ridiculous. I know this and so I conform my vocabulary.

Paul wasn’t sure what to say when I threw abortion into the dialog. I qualified the statement by adding, “It may sound crazy to pray outside abortion clinics, but when you experience girls turning around and going down the street to a real crisis pregnancy center, you stop caring that the world thinks you’re crazy. The media and movies have done a real number on the image of pro-lifers. In fact, people we talk to on the street are shocked to discover that we’re college educated. There’s a pervasive assumption that pro-lifers are profoundly ignorant.”

“Yeah, when I saw you I thought you were in high school.”

“Nope.”

The train rolled into Paul’s stop. We shook hand and wished each other good-luck. Later on I questioned if I’d done enough service to the Theology of the Body message. There were so many good things I could have said that I’d forgotten to say. I couldn’t help but be down on myself for not being missionary of the year.

But that’s the point, isn’t it? Missionaries perhaps by definition are not experts. They simply go forth with a message. And even if at times it is imperfectly communicated, there is something to be said for the growth that takes place in learning how to articulate the mysteries of Truth.

So there you have it; I boarded a train to journey in search of job, Paul boarded a train to journey in search of a job. What a scene it was, he, 23, in his expensive suit and laptop computer and me, 24, in my shapeless blue t-shirt and draping brown scapular. We shared an hour of our lives as we made our way between two points on earth, our convergence of ideas communicated in hushed tones in the quiet section of the train.

Late that night I arrived home, took note that my car in the driveway had a flat tire, and finally headed for bed. In the morning, I had a job to find.

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.