Friday, July 30, 2010

Catholic Outreach

We are on call every moment of every day.

Yesterday I enjoyed a working breakfast at my favorite coffee shop. Shortly after I arrived, a woman sat town at the next table and said hello. She reminded me what her name is and remarked that we had met once before, right there at that same spot. I remembered her. Once again, she sipped her drink and read the paper as I did some work before daily Mass.

Just before it was time to leave, I was finishing my article when my new friend turned to me and began speaking.

She had something on her heart and had to share the significance of the occasion with someone.

My new friend proceeded to tell me that her son was leaving that morning for Ireland to start a new job, and he would be there from one to two years. Very soon she was going to pick him up and drive him to the airport. As mothers of sons, we shared a mutual understanding of what this moment means to a mother.

She was so happy for her son, and yet it was clear she would miss him terribly. What a wonderful mother. How blessed he is to have such a loving mother.

I encouraged her to turn throughout the morning to our Lady, who knows very well the sorrows of a mother's heart. She, too, was separated from her Son. My friend sat quietly for a moment.

Then she asked me where I go to church. I told her.

I asked if she planned to visit Ireland during her son's stay there. She very gratefully described the wonderful life she has enjoyed traveling with her husband all over the world. Then she said that she and her husband would have to travel to Ireland to visit their son separately, because someone had to remain to care for their other son. Usually when they traveled, the son she was taking to the airport took care of their other son, his brother, while their parents were away.

Then, I was told another story.

When her oldest son was born, she said that he was so beautiful. She shared the joy of his years growing up and described his achievements, most notably as a young adult. Then when he was in his early twenties things changed, and the family suffered greatly. How much they love him! That son was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

I shared her sorrow and explained that my family also suffered in a similar way. As I packed up my things, we spoke of our many years of suffering.

Our conversation was less than ten minutes long. As I began walking out, the woman added one final thought. She told me that she had been born Catholic. I asked her if she made her First Communion, and she replied with a smile on her face that she had.

As we parted ways, her final comment was, "Perhaps I will go back."

I replied with a big grin, "You should!" There, we find the Eucharist.

How many opportunities we have to practice Catholic outreach. How many times we can share the love of Christ with someone. He sends them to us and we are to guide them with love to His Precious Body and Blood, for He is our spiritual food and the source of love.

On the way to Mass I could not help but think that it was my tremendous suffering that led me right into the arms of Christ. Perhaps this woman's struggles and pain have led to her thinking about returning to the One who loves us immensely and infinitely. He is our courage, our strength, and our hope.

Amazing to think that the greatest suffering of our lives leads us to Jesus. Amazing to think that He uses us, through our presence in the lives of each other, as His instruments of love.

He can, does, and will make good come out of any situation.

That's Mercy. That's our Jesus!

Witness His great love and mercy to all those you encounter. God is at work in you!