Monday, April 27, 2015

Evangelization and the Third Commandment

Marsh Chapel at Boston University
On Sundays, I love to stand on the stairs outside of church and greet the people arriving for Mass.  It's an opportunity to have some personal contact with the people, ask about their week, and grow in our pastoral relationship.  On a college campus, time standing on the church steps often leads to a request for "a quick confession."

Yesterday as I was standing on the steps of the Boston University chapel, I greeted one of our students as he made his way across the plaza in front of the chapel.  As he reached the steps, another student who happened to be walking by called out his name and struck up a conversation with him.  As they were talking, she looked in the direction of the chapel (he was standing on the first step) and she asked him, "Are you going in there?"  He replied, "Yes."  She asked, "What's going on in there?"  He said, "Oh, it's time for Mass."  I could see surprise written all over her face.  She asked, "So, you're Catholic?"  Again, he replied, "Yes."  "Do you go to Mass every week?"  Again, "Yes."  She mentioned something about how she was protestant.  After a few more words, the conversation ended pleasantly and they both moved on, he to Mass and she to her destination.

I was struck by this encounter because written all over the young woman's face was surprise, joy, and a look that said, "I really should be living my faith too."  I could tell that she was really moved by the discovery that this young man joyfully and naturally attends Mass every Sunday.  It was as though she discovered something extraordinary.  I know this young man and know that he is a great guy.  So, I think she also had this sense that, "Of course he goes to Mass every Sunday.  That's part of the reason he is such a great guy."  

His walking into Mass yesterday became an invitation to someone else.  His fidelity to Christ--lived in an easy freedom--implanted a question into the heart of that young woman.  In that brief exchange, he joyfully witnessed to Christ and became a challenge to her.  The look on her face was completely obvious.  She saw something in him--a friendship with Christ--that she too wants to live.  She saw goodness in that moment and she desired it.  When we live our Faith, God uses us to encourage others and to draw others.  That young man's fidelity to Mass yesterday encouraged that young woman and it also encouraged me.  

Among the things that we could do to help evangelize others is to teach and better form Catholics to observe and to live the Third Commandment. The young man who came to Mass yesterday was joyfully observing the commandment to keep holy the Lord's Day.  In joyfully observing this commandment, he became a witness to the Joy of the Gospel.  

If we want to evangelize others, we should form Catholics who are fully committed to the Sunday Mass. Such formation takes effort. It requires priests who are willing to teach on the subject and joyfully explain with patience and with love the importance of living the Third Commandment. The effort is worth it.  Yesterday, a young man joyfully observed the Third Commandment and in doing so, he witnessed to Christ.  The Third Commandment, it works.


  1. Father I commend you for your witness to Christ! What I observe you doing you no doubt, encourage! Thank you for allowing your words and actions to match! So many souls could be saved for our Lord if this formula was brought to light! God Bless

  2. What a great yet simple witness.

  3. Thanks for the kind words. As for my words and actions matching . . . that's a work in progress! God Bless.