24 July 2011

In the World

I'm struggling to reconcile some ideas in my head, maybe you can help me out.

As Christians, especially as Catholics, (and for me, most especially as a Catholic missionary,) we have to recognize the privilege of the call we have received and have responded to. God desires to spend eternity with all of His people and His charity always desires to accomplish that goal. At the same time, my specific call (the way the Lord wants me to get to Heaven) is different from the calling of every other one of God's people. This requires my own unique response.

As a missionary, I am required to make my best efforts to live excellence in every way possible. I must admit that I fail very frequently.

It is difficult enough to keep my own mind on God's will and to keep myself from the temptations of Satan,  and the only way I can even begin to show others how to live out holiness is by God's grace.
While I'm desperately trying to live out holiness with charity, there are certain things that I must do and certain things I must not do. Of course, I must avoid sin at all cost, and all temptations to sin. (Nearly impossible, thanks to concupiscence, my own inclination to sin.) Simultaneously, I must go to the darkest places on earth (where the Resurrection of God Incarnate is not known), and bring light.

How do I, as a missionary, let my students (and family, and mission partners) know that I love them exactly how they are? I think that living in the world and being of the Kingdom will be my greatest challenge as a missionary.

Even now, I hear close friends and family say things like: "It was a good movie, but you might be offended," or "you wouldn't want to go (wherever) because of (whatever reason)." The truth is, I've been there, and I'm still there! I sometimes think inappropriate jokes are funny, and I like romantic comedies and reality television. (Sorry, Dr. Sri!) But I try my best to give up the good (or what my feeble senses think is good) for the better (according to God's will). I know that the Lord has a sense of humor, but more importantly I know that He desires for us only what is best.

I desperately want to love people the way God loves them, to meet them where they're at and show them a higher calling (to that of service to the Lord). I also want people to recognize my that my failures do not disqualify me from this calling, but that the Lord works through them for my own sanctification.

I'm not sure, I suppose I'm rambling at this point. How do I avoid sin without coming across as "holier than thou?" If you have any insight, I'd love to hear it!

In other news:

I've been praying and thinking frequently about employing higher faculties. If I want my intellect to rule, I have to exercise it most often. I think I can accomplish this by reading more, but it is difficult to use my brain when I'm not in school and not actively engaged in furthering my education. (I don't want my brain to turn to mush just because it is summer.) I have also been practicing a few daily sacrifices of my emotions and appetites in order to keep them in control. I hope this will help me in my quest for knowledge of the Lord.

Mission Partner Development is going much slower than I expected, but I appreciate all who have prayed for me and offered Mass and rosaries. I have a Parish Talk at St. Francis of Assisi in Grapevine next Saturday and Sunday, so keep the prayers coming!

I am eagerly counting down to my Texan departure for the cooler and friendlier Village on the Plains. I have less than two weeks to go and I can't wait for Auburn to be introduced to my sweet teammates, Michael and Brian! Get ready for an incredible year, Auburn!

Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us!


  1. Well, as someone who has spent more time hanging out with non-Catholics than with Catholics I can suggest this for meeting people where they’re at:

    Be friends with them. Not in a creepy, I'm your friend so I can convert you kind of way but actually be their friend for the sake of being friends with them. People can tell when you befriend them for some ulterior motive (even if it's the very noble motive of winning them for Christ) and reject that. I think sometimes we try to force Christ into all our friendships, even those in which the other person is not yet ready to accept Christ. I'm not saying that you should hide your beliefs or not speak out when necessary but you don't have to go around rubbing your faith and morals in other people's face because that will only push them away. You live out your faith, and when they ask about it, you answer. That's all there is to it. The more you share your life with someone the more the conversations about God, about your beliefs and morals will come up. That is how you’ll be able to share your faith with them without it being weird and awkward.

    You can only do this by spending time with them. I've had friends with whom I have never spoken about religion or about God but with whom I’ve spent so much time (be it because of school, or work, or some other activity) that eventually something comes up and they hear me say no to something that goes against my beliefs. That has marked them profoundly. That is what giving witness is and I could not have given it had I pushed them away by preaching. When they see consistency in your acting, when they see the joy with which you live, when they see that you are friends with them because of who they are and not because you are seeking something, they start to open up to you. They ask questions, they ask for your advice. Sometimes it seems like this will never happen or that you are not being a good witness but believe me, people notice even the most insignificant of these things and it does affect their lives.

    Also remember that you can’t be friends with everybody. You are not called to convert every single person you meet. That is impossible. You are called to bear witness to all those around you, but bearing witness and converting are two different things. There are some people that will not like you. There are some people you will not like. There are some other people who will do you more harm than the good you can do to them. You cannot reach out to everyone. What you do then is bear witness and move on. God has a plan for them, you are just not a part of it (yes, evangelization requires a lot of humility).

    How can you not appear judgmental? Well, simply don’t judge. Only God knows a person’s heart so only He can judge. Be friends with people even if they fail and you do not approve of what they do. Again, don’t rub it in their face when they do something wrong but instead let them see that you are there for them even after they have done something stupid. Christ didn’t go around pointing his finger at sinners. He ate with them, He was there for them and they knew that, that’s why they were drawn to Him. That is how we are supposed to evangelize. Of course, there will come a time in which you will have the obligation of telling them that they are doing something wrong, but because of the friendship you have with them, their heart will be more open to listening to you.

    I think that “meeting people where they’re at” means being there for them. It doesn’t mean lowering your morals or looking the other way when they do something bad just so you can reach out to them. It’s not about changing your preferences to what they like, or even going to the places where they usually go so you can talk to them. That just seems fake. It is all about being there for them when they need you. It might mean going to a bar with them some time or going to lunch or picking them up if they had too much to drink. It’s all about being friends with them. That’s it and that’s all.

  2. Dang, some people are saying I shouldn't write comments that are longer than your original post! Haha!