Last night I went out with a Legion sister, knocking on doors, witnessing to the truth of the Christian message as disseminated by the Catholic church. I was scared. I said to my Legion sister when she picked me up, 'I don't really know what we're doing', and to my horror she said, 'neither do I'. I had figured she was the experienced one.
So we motored off to a charming housing estate tucked away from the main roads where the mums stood talking on the footpaths while their children played on the grass. There were good cars in the driveways, and no litter anywhere - a 'nice' place, I thought. Until we rang the first bell....
The lady was angry. She didn't want to talk about the church. She wanted to send us away fast, but despite herself she did talk. I think she was secretly dying to talk, to rant, to question, to even cry. Some of the bad things she believed were quite true, we couldn't defend them. Some of them were straight out of The Da Vinci Code. But there's no difference anymore to her. She's lost her perspective on the church, and I could tell she found it painful. Perhaps the Church had once meant a great deal to her. She wanted it to go away and not come calling at her door. But we were there, tremulous, hesitant, not brave but wanting to be brave, and despite herself she talked to us. No, we didn't make a conversion, but she had the chance to talk to some real Catholics, not those who label themselves 'lapsed' or, even worse, 'recovering' (as if it were a disease), but real, believing, faithful Catholics. My Legion sister was better than I. All I did was stand there. But at least I did stand there, didn't withdraw into my shell when the criticism started coming, didn't say to myself, 'well it's her loss' and leave. I stood there, and listened to my companion talk to her with great gentleness.
This is a milestone in my life: I'm an evangelist.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
I found Thee in my heart, O Lord,
As in some secret shrine;
I knelt, I waited for Thy word,
I joyed to name Thee mine.
I feared to give myself away
To that or this; beside
Thy altar on my face I lay,
And in strong need I cried.
Those hours are past.
Thou art not mine,
And therefore I rejoice,
I wait within no holy shrine,
I faint not for the voice.
In Thee we live; and every wind
Of heaven is Thine; blown free
To west, to east, the God unshrined
Is still discovering me.
(The picture above is A Monk by the Sea by Casper David Friedrich. Dowden, the poet, rejected organised religion, but I dont think his poem should be rejected on this account. I love it, and hope you do too.)