Thursday, July 28, 2011

The New Evangelization: From one beggar to another

Pope John Paul II called for a new evangelization, to go out and proclaim the Gospel, especially in areas where Christ was once known but now seems to be forgotten, except for perhaps a remnant of faithful embers still on fire with God's love. We are one of the many groups who seek to give ourselves in response to this call, to be vessels of the Holy Spirit, who breathes the Divine breath of life into dry bones and fans the embers into flames of burning love for God and neighbor. On the walk this summer, as on the walk 2 years ago, we have encountered a broad range of responses to our presence. We have met people and communities of strong faith who have shown us such kindness in their gracious hosting and have told us how encouraged they are to see us, examples of the springtime of new life growing within the Church. We have met people who struggle and who live in environments which are hostile to faith. Their perseverance encourages us and we encourage them to continue to hold onto that treasure of faith "that a man finds, and sells all that he owns to purchase". We have also met people who seem to be rather offended by us, some of whom employ various creative means of communication to let us know how they feel. Christ himself encountered a similar array of responses during His own personal ministry.

While our society seems to promote learning, exploring, education, and interaction with new ideas and people different than ourselves,so many people seem offended by the very concept of Evangelization. It seems that learning is fine as long as I decide what I will learn, and I seek it out, and I ask for it. But if you offer to share some life-changing Truth with me, the very best that you have found, this is offensive? As Pope Benedict reminds us in his latest encyclical Caritas en Veritate, to proclaim and share the Truth is an act of Charity. If we truly care about each other we should all be sharing us much truth as we can!
The other day myself and another missionary were invited into a bar by a woman who was standing outside as we were walking along the road... somewhere in Massachussets. She said she wanted us to meet her friend. Her friend was about to undergo a surgery and she asked us for prayers. We were happy to pray for her. She also said that it had been a while since she had been to church. We told her that we found it worth going to be with Christ ... and she saw it was worth it to us to be walking in the 100-plus degree heat that day to put ourselves out there to share this truth. In return, she shared with us the best truths she knew in life. One of these truths was that friends, such as her friend who invited us inside, are true gifts from God. I could see by their love, a beautiful love between friends, that they knew and lived this truth. Friends are a gift from God. I needed to hear that. Later that day I took some time to reflect on how much God has loved me by providing me with good friends throughout my life. I am glad she really shared that from her heart.
Humility is to acknowledge the truth. The truth is that every Christian has a Truth worth sharing and that Truth is Christ. It is also true that all of us are still learning and growing, we are all undergoing a constant process of conversion toward Christ daily in our lives, and we all need to be evangelized by Christ and others each day. We must constantly evangelize and be evangelized by each other! Everyone has something to offer us as we travel the pilgrim trail of life. We love Christ by loving each person we encounter and Christ has something for us in every person as well. I have been blessed by those who have evangelized me by their words and actions this summer and it offends me none to admit that! Someone once said that to be a missionary is simply to be one beggar sharing with another where to get bread. We are all beggars before God. As I sit a block away from the Basilica of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Boston writing this blog, I am reminded of the homeless man Richie who taught me this lesson at this spot 2 years ago on the walk that summer. Yes, yes. I was familiar with the theological concept, I had read the life of St. Francis, who lived the lesson, several times, but God knew that I needed Richie to teach me this lesson: Man can only receive heaven as a beggar. That day, after he led us into the church and he prayed, he only asked me one question. I shared the bread I had. Then, seeing him ask for God's forgiveness, desiring to amend his life, and then rejoicing in God's goodness, he was my teacher, he was my example, and that day he fed me with the bread of life, the Truth, which he had just realized himself. He was homeless, but he found the Treasure, and he shared it with me. God uses us to feed one another with food and truth. He multiplies the loaves. We all need God's help. We all need His grace. Admit it, share the bread of Truth you have, and don't be afraid to accept and even ask for bread from others. To share the Truth you have is not pride, it is humility, and it is love. God help us not to be afraid to share but to have the courage to love one another!

- Ludwig

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It was an honor for you to visit us at St. Mary's in Dedham, MA and to share in our morning Mass. May God bless you as you continue to witness Him to others in your mission. -David Bearse

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.