Friday, August 24, 2012

The Urgency of Sharing the Good News

St. Therese at the Carmel in Lisieux
As I write this I am on the plane returning from a trip with my family to Germany and France. While there we had the opportunity to visit many beautiful cathedrals, basilicas, and churches. The trip also included a visit to Lisiuex, childhood home and site of the cloister of St. Therese of Lisieux. We attended Mass with people from all over the world and observed faithful coming to walk in the footsteps of saints.

I could not help, however, to notice the throngs of people who visited the grand cathedrals, walking by statues, mosaics, and murals, admiring the art and architecture of man's creative mind. It was as if they were in a museum.

We attended Mass on the Feast of the Assumption in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. As we worshipped, tourists strolled around the gathered faithful, snapping photos of the consecration and worshippers as if we were on display.

The priest, in his homily, spoke of Mary as disciple and evangelist and how we are called to evangelize, yet he did not invite those passing through to join us. Tour guides in Lisiuex told visitors of the life of Therese and how she entered the convent at 15, but spoke little of her relationship with the Lord and how, through His love she was transformed.

The sites were filled with beautiful art and yes, we very much enjoyed the craftsmanship of the artists, architects, and builders, but I could not help but be a bit sad as well. Not once were we invited into relationship with the same Lord who spoke to the great saints whose sites we visited. Not once was the name of Jesus proclaimed as the one who has the power to radically changes lives and worlds.

If the Gospel message is to have any effect, then we must be willing to share the Good News. These cathedrals and basilicas are erected giving glory to God. In their majesty they are witnesses to the power Christ can have in the lives of human beings just like us. Saints are not perfect, but they were open to God in profound ways and are examples to us of the extraordinary life we too can experience when we open ourselves up to the grace and the transforming power of Christ.

In Notre Dame a banner hung in honor of the Year of Faith. On it appeared an image of St. Therese of Lisiuex and her quote: "It is confidence, and confidence alone, that I give my Love." In many ways, the message of St. Faustina is the same, "Jesus, I trust in you." Both are modern day saints with a clear message: faith in Jesus Christ must be the cornerstone of our life. This kind of faith is deep and complete--it is unconditional. It is with full confidence that these believers gave their lives to the Lord and it was with their complete selves that they lived their lives for Him.

These great saints are not just historical figures. Their writings are not just good reads. Their monuments are not just showcases of art. These saints are people to whom we are called to imitate, as they imitated Christ. They are teachers, who through their lives offer us the path that leads to Jesus. But most of all, they are our friends, who in the intimacy of relationship, love us enough to open themselves up to us, so that we may walk with them as we learn how to find Jesus alive in our own lives. They are mentors who assure us that through great suffering comes great joy and that life in Christ is always the path to true happiness, joy, and contentment, not only in this life but for all eternity.

As Catholics we are blessed to have so many who have walked the path of sainthood, acting as beacons for us as we, led by the Spirit, grow in discipleship. These holy men and women plumbed the depths and found Christ, who transformed them. They invite us, too, to resist the temptation of just "skimming the surface" of our faith, calling us to discover the richness of life lived in and for Jesus. When we do, we will discover life to the full.

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