By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK
An unfamiliar young man came in and sat near the back for the Traditional Latin Mass on a recent Sunday. (See last week’s column.) After the Mass, I spoke with him. He told me his name, that he just moved to our area, is Lutheran and considering taking RCIA to enter the Church.
He lives in a town that is about an hour away. Why did he drive that distance, bypassing several churches, to worship with us? Ours is the only church in the tri-county area of southern Maryland that offers the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) and the reason why many already drive past their geographical parishes to join us on a regular basis.
Serious worship evangelizes. Someone coming out of the Protestant tradition is less likely to settle for Catholic worship that offers an experience that appears to be like what many do outside the Church. Serious seekers settle on the TLM because the historic worship of the Church is seen as a more serious encounter with our ancient faith.
The “old” things from our Catholic storehouse are necessary for the wisdom to accept the invitation to the Kingdom of God in these “new” times so full of challenge, doubt, and lack of faith.
In the parking lot after Mass, I, of course, welcomed the young man, told him we’d love to have him join us, and gave him a copy of the bulletin. I am happy to report that I later had a meeting and a conversation with the young man and he is progressing toward attending convert catechism classes. Please keep him and all our young people searching for Christ in your prayers, that they may securely find Him in His Church.
Evangelizing neighbors requires having spent some time getting to know them. Getting to know them means talking to them. Air-conditioning and computers have reduced “outdoor” time and thus also interaction with others.
In our little town of Benedict, Md., we have “walkers,” folks who hike the road that runs around the town in the shape of a teardrop. I wave hello and chat with these folks when we meet as they round the corner at the north end of the loop around the rectory property.
Among the most regular of these exercisers are a husband and wife who usually walk together but sometimes alone. They are good people, one time organizing young visiting family members to pick up trash along the road across from the church after I mentioned the need. The wife works part-time in the post office and she was on duty recently when I went to check for the mail. I wished her a blessed Lord’s Day in view of the coming weekend then asked if she goes to church and would she like to come to our church of St. Francis de Sales.
She said she would come if I can “talk her husband into it.” She was raised Wesleyan and he with no regular practice of faith. Pray please for my conversation with her husband; I know that in the end it is not I who will move his heart.
Evangelization may be hampered by the fear that if one speaks of the faith, then others may not like us if they do not like the faith. Human respect results from fearing what the world can do to us more than what we might lose if we forsake God. Yes, God does forgive even our betrayals, but Heaven is won by love of Him only who can give it and love does not put off the Beloved. The delayed love of the lukewarm does not suffice for God in the same way that it is rejected by men.
Persecution is the natural state of the Christian life, whether the insidious version of the HHS mandate that financially penalizes Christians in the U.S. or the genocidal attack upon Mosul Christians by ISIS. The answer is faith in the presence of the Lord who comforts the suffering as He promises them eternal life. Christ expresses this truth to Peter when He says, “It is I; do not be afraid.”
“Lord, save me!” is the cry of the Christian who has stepped out in faith as commanded by Christ but who upon encountering difficulties is afraid to continue the journey. This is the cry of Peter, who is sinking and left, as he thinks, to his own resources in the danger of the sea. But he is told to use a different standard, that of the faith that, in the human weakness we know as fear, he has momentarily forgotten. The command of the Lord, “It is I, do not be afraid,” to Peter and to all of us is to recover ourselves, by the composure of faith, thereby returning to the serenity of trust amid the violence of the world.
This is the natural state of the supernatural Christian, that of persecution and sometimes of martyrdom, which we are in constant danger of forgetting and with it the faith by which we are saved. And there is also the loving remonstrance as He pulls us up, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
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(Follow Fr. Cusick on Facebook at Reverendo Padre-Kevin Michael Cusick and on Twitter @MCITLFrAphorism. Father blogs at apriestlife.blogspot.com, mcitl.blogspot.com and you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)