Pastor’s Keyboard: “The Joy of the Lord is my strength”! Recently a student from China came to meet with me. He was raised in an atheist country where the faith is very controlled and often suppressed. During his years at Ryken he said he encountered Christians who were filled with Joy. Every year some of teachers and I take some young men to visit the seminary for a day. Usually we always end up taking some non-Catholics and even non-Christians. Some of the priests at the seminary were not happy when we first did this, but I explained that as a convert myself, I knew it could help them to be open to the call of the Lord to the faith and from there to a potential vocation to the Priesthood. This young man said that trip had a huge impact on him. He said he had never met so many young men who were so happy and fulfilled. It inspired in him even more the desire to become Catholic himself. What amazed me was the expression of joy I saw on his face as he spoke of the young people and teachers that influenced his decision to enter the church. I thought to myself, surely, he knows that the church is going through one of the greatest crises it has faced in the modern era? Surely, he knows that the media and many others have little to nothing good to say about the church or those who serve her? Yes, he knows, yet what has influenced him to see the good and beauty in the church has been Christians alive with the joy of the Lord despite the failings of some of our own.
This year I’ve had a number of students at the high school and the college and both parishes that want to enter the church. Most have supportive families, some have been told NO! This young man comes from a prominent family and so the consequences could be bad. He knows that he could be risking family disapproval and government disapproval, yet he is determined. Even before he met with me, he started to attend daily Mass, though not receiving Holy Communion, he started to pray daily, and started to read more about the faith. He is a passionate young man who desires to give his life to the Lord and if necessary, for the Lord. It’s a beautiful thing to think about the effect the everyday students and teachers have had on him. He went to another Christian school before Ryken where the same gospel was preached but he said it was not lived out in daily life. He said here in our community he has experienced both the teachings and the teachings lived out in the lives of his fellow students, teachers, and the seminarians he has met. Now he wants to enter the faith. How many people like this young man exist in our families, among our neighbors, co-workers, and among our friends. They are watching us, even when they seem not to be listening to us. Therefore, we must make sure that the gospel that we have learned, and that we speak, matches (by God’s grace) our lives. The lived Gospel can have the most powerful effect on us and on others. The lived Gospel in your life this week at work, at home, in the neighborhood, among your friends might not only save your soul but theirs. Please Lord may it be so for us all!
Your Brother and Father in Christ,