A couple of years ago I went to my 50th college reunion. Gathered with classmates for different events, we began speaking about the various characters on the faculty and staff about whom we had special memories. These were fun conversations with a lot of laughter. In addition, there were some poignant recollections of persons who had an impact on our young lives.
One fellow, whom we called “Pops” was sort of a night watchman around the campus. He was of an age, had a very noticeable limp, and had a ready smile and a kind inquiring word with any student he met late at night as he moved through the dorms. A few of us enjoyed Sunday night visits to his home where we watched TV and devoured just-baked-bread his lovely wife prepared. We all learned so much about kindness, respect, caring and gracious hospitality from Pops. The night watchman, retired from factory work, was one of our best “teachers” in college!
All of us learn some of the most important life lessons from the words and actions of others. When we are young, we are always scanning for examples and roles models to emulate such as parents, coaches, relatives, celebrities, clergy, and teachers – the list is virtually endless.
In particular, role models can have a very high influence on our faith. Listening to others speak about their faith, reading about the faith journey of others, hearing another witness how faith has shaped life, any and all of these impact our own faith in profound ways.
Often I hear people observe that the practice of faith is declining. There are fewer people in church and secularism abounds. More people are lonely, searching, stressed, and unhappy. I think that is all true and I wonder what could make things better.
We need more role models, witnesses, and courageous folks who choose to speak, write, decide, and act publicly about their faith. One’s faith is not simply a “me and God” thing. Authentic faith always leads outward toward others and community. Saint Francis of Assisi said it well, “Preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary, use words”
Prayers Before Mass
Try to get to Mass early so you can pray before Mass.
You’ve heard the conventional wisdom, “You get out of it what you put into it.” And that surely applies to the Mass.
Here’s an adapted excerpt from a prayer by St. Thomas Aquinas you may consider praying:
“May I receive the Bread of Angels, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, with the reverence
and humility, the contrition and devotion, the purity and faith, and the resolve and determination
He deserves.” Amen.
Remember: you get out of it what you put into it.