Thursday, July 25, 2013

Evangelization, Discipleship, and the Evangelical Counsels

A Young Man Suffering from Drug Addiction Embraces Pope Francis
As World Youth Day is taking place in Rio, I cannot help but recall the homily that Blessed John Paul II delivered to the "young people of today" in 1979.  The Gospel that day was the account of the Rich Young Man, and Blessed John Paul II appealed to the young people of the world, "Do not go away sad!"  Blessed John Paul pleaded with young people that only in Christ are true life and joy found.  But that this way of Christ is demanding.  It requires that we say, "No" to self and "Yes" to Christ.  It demands that we say "No" to escape and "Yes" to love.  "But see what happens," said the Pope.  The young man who had begun with such enthusiasm and desire went away sad because he had many possessions.

Pope John Paul II's great mission was to inaugurate the New Evangelization.  As he appealed to young people to "Follow Christ," he did not shy away from the demands of the Gospel.  I think he saw in the exchange between Christ and the Rich Young Man the model of the New Evangelization.  There is a lesson in this Gospel for all of us who are setting out on the path of the New Evangelization.  It requires that we propose Christ and His Gospel in all of its fullness, not shying away from its demands.  In the case of the Rich Young Man, he chose to reject these demands.  Blessed John Paul II spoke with such sadness when he said, "And as can be deduced from the context, he refused to accept the call of Christ."  There will be times when the call of Christ will be rejected.  But, this should not dissuade us.  Christ invited that young man to eternal happiness through the path of self-denial and through adherence to Christ.

For all of us who exercise pastoral governance in the life of the Church, there is a temptation to sometimes cut the wealthy a break from the demands of the Gospel.  Sometimes the wealthy see their money as a means of substituting for true discipleship.  There are any number of good charities to which the wealthy can donate.  Most of those charities are not going to tell their donors that they must repent and be holy.  So, we can kind of walk on egg shells around the wealthy.  If we preach to them, perhaps they will give their donations instead to the local bird sanctuary.  It's a risky proposition.  Their money does so much good for so many causes.  If it looks like getting them to be disciples is unlikely, is it better to settle for the best we can get?

Jesus didn't think so.  He told the Rich Young Man precisely what he had to do to have eternal life.  The Rich Young Man went away.  The Gospel doesn't tell us that Jesus went after him and said, "Well, give away what you are comfortable giving and follow me insofar as you want."  Jesus let him leave.  His departure is tragic.  But, Jesus only has one offer to give.  The disciple follows him on Jesus' terms and not on his own terms.  The Rich Young Man's money could have helped the poor.  Had Jesus made him a more modest proposal, perhaps he would have said, "Yes."  But Jesus called him to total discipleship.

We all have something with which to negotiate our discipleship.  In a way, the three evangelical counsels--poverty, chastity, and obedience--are the remedy for our tendency to want to follow Christ on our own terms.  Each of us has an inclination to dictate the terms of our discipleship.  My possessions, my body, and my will are three means by which I reject God's total dominion over my life.  "Why should I be expected to tithe?"  "Why can't the Church be more accepting of pornography, masturbation, sex outside of the marriage between one man and one woman?"  "Why does the Church demand that I obey the commandments?"  If the Church would allow us the ability to buy our way out of some of the Gospel's demands,  permit just some illicit sexual activity, or provide us a pass on one or two of the commandments, then we'd be willing to go along.

When the Rich Young Man knelt before Jesus and asked him what he must do to have eternal life, before Jesus answered him, he looked at him with love.  The answer that Jesus gave to him arose from a profound love for that young man.  The answer required a great sacrifice.  It required the young man to be a disciple. He could not buy his way or influence his way to happiness.

Pope Francis is reminding all of us that the New Evangelization is linked to the Evangelical Counsels.  All of us are called to follow Christ--each according to his own state in life--along the path of poverty, chastity, and obedience.  Making this proposal will sometimes lead to rejection.  It will sometimes mean that a wealthy person may take his money and leave.  But, there is no other way for the New Evangelization to work.  We have forgotten that discipleship is something total and decisive.  It is not negotiated.  Of course, in the life of every disciple there are failures.  This is to be expected.  And Jesus is filled with mercy and tenderness for us in our weaknesses and betrayals.  But, the remedy for our failures is to return to Christ. It is not to renegotiate our terms of discipleship.

We cannot fake the New Evangelization.  We cannot create the New Evangelization.  The New Evangelization is not primarily about the externals.  It is about the heart. It is about discipleship.  It is about gazing intensely upon others with love and proposing to them the call to be disciples.  Pope Francis is, by his words and example, linking the New Evangelization to the Evangelical Counsels.  Those of us who wish to be instruments of the New Evangelization need to be men and women who live joyfully the Gospel call to poverty, chastity, and obedience.  At this particular moment in time, there is a broad movement afoot to link evangelization almost exclusively to structural and programmatic solutions.  All of us look around and see the broken parishes, dioceses, and institutions of the Church and desire to fix them.  But, the New Evangelization needs first to gaze upon the individual broken heart and to call that heart to discipleship.  The key problem is not broken parishes and broken institutions.  The key problem is with broken discipleship.

We, like that young man, might today come to Jesus and tell him all of the things we've done to turn things around.  We can list for him all of our admirable (and they are admirable) efforts.  When he looks at us with love, the answer he will give to us is the same answer he gave two thousand years ago: "Only one thing is lacking--go sell all that you have, give it to the poor, and come and follow me."  What is lacking in our evangelization efforts is a call to give everything away--our possessions, our influence, our bodies, and our wills--and to follow Christ.  Pope Francis is leading his flock back to that conversation with Christ.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Don't Be A Big Cry Baby

I remember that when I was a boy, a common thing to say to your brother or your friend--if you wanted to aggravate them--was, "Don't be a big  cry baby."  No one wanted to be a big cry baby.  Cry babies, as you probably know, complained that things were too hard and looked for an easy way out.

Since arriving at Boston University a little over a month ago, I've been trying to walk for a few miles each day along the Charles River Esplanade which is located only a few steps from my office.  As you walk along the Esplanade, you cannot help but notice the variety of persons who are there.  It is filled with cyclists, joggers, walkers, and roller bladers.  Besides the difference in activities, there is also a wide variety of ages, physical conditions, and nationalities.  Many of the people there are young college students who are in excellent physical condition, elderly folks who are shuffling along, and those of us who are in between--forties and flabby.

Yesterday as I was walking, I had the sense that all of these people, individually trying to grow in strength and unknown to each other, somehow feel connected to all of the others there.  I suspect that the young and fit do not look disdainfully on the elderly or the unfit.  Instead, I bet they admire their tenacity. The flabby don't look at the young and fit and think, "Well, they shouldn't work so hard.  They should be more like me." Those who are physically fit do not provoke resentment, but are rather a sign of hope.  Similarly, those who fill the ranks of the "unfit" may do so for any number of reasons.  Some probably were lazy. Some perhaps are ill.  Maybe some have been so overwhelmed by life's challenges that they were not able to get out and exercise.  But, nobody really cares.  Nobody is standing around saying, "You are not fit so you cannot be here."

I think of this because it somehow relates to the spiritual life.  It's an odd thing that when it comes to physical training, we admire the strong, encourage the weak, expect slow progress, and are patient with the failures of others.  But, when it comes to the spiritual life, we sometimes dismiss the strong, judge the weak, expect immediate perfection, and in the face of failure, surrender.  What are some examples?

"Why Do I Have To Go To Mass, Go to Confession and Forgive Others?"
When people include exercise in their daily regimen, we applaud them.  But, when it comes to the demands of the spiritual life--daily prayer, Sunday Mass, Confession, living purely--instead of striving for excellence and admiring those who do so, we sometimes hear people say things like, "Well, the Catholic Church ought to be less demanding."  When doctors say we should get so much exercise each day, we might say, "I'm too lazy," but few of us are dumb enough to say, "I think the medical profession is wrong about the whole exercise thing."  We should all be striving for spiritual perfection.  The answer is not to say, "Yeah, let's all become spiritual flabby."  We shouldn't be big spiritual babies.

Similarly, many people do not come to church because they feel like they are not living as well as the other people there. But, church ought to be like the Esplanade.  Everybody there is growing in one way or another. Everybody is working hard.  Those who are strong in the spiritual life know the pain and struggle that is involved in it. They don't resent the presence of the weak, but rather are delighted to see other brothers and sisters joining the struggle.  If someone walks around church eyeing disdainfully those who are weak, he isn't spiritually strong.  He is a spiritual bully.  Whether one is strong or weak, the spiritual life still requires tough training.  The person who hasn't been to confession in twenty years finds it embarrassing to go to confession.  The person who went last week also finds it embarrassing.  The person who runs a half mile after ten years of not exercising finds it difficult.  The person who runs ten miles today after running eight miles yesterday finds it difficult.

So often in the spiritual life, we see each failure as going back to ground zero.  But this is not the case!  If on a particular day an athlete quits after half of his usual workout, it is not like he goes back to five years ago when he was completely out of shape.  In the spiritual life, however, very often once somebody falls, he becomes discouraged because it feels as though he goes back to the very beginning.  I remember one spiritual writer saying something like this: "When we climb a mountain and trip, it is unlikely we fall down the entire mountain.  Similarly, in the spiritual life, when we fall, it is not as though we have to start from the very beginning."

People become physically unfit for any number of reasons.  So too, people become spiritually unfit for many reasons.  Some have given themselves over to sin, laziness, lust, gluttony, and worldly pride.  Others perhaps were never really given the necessary formation.  Some are overwhelmed by life, some are weak, and some are obstinate.  Whatever the reason(s), when the weak try to live the spiritual life, the strong ought to encourage them. Maybe it will be stop and go for a while.  Those who are truly spiritually strong will not chase the weak away, but will rather know the right way to encourage them.

Those who are committed to exercise never seem to arrive at a moment when they decide, "I'm physically fit enough.  Now, I think I will stop exercising."  Similarly, in the spiritual life, we are always called to be growing stronger.  There is always room for growth.  In the life of the Church, we are all in the arena and are being formed in the image of the perfect man, Christ Jesus.  We should never be overwhelmed or discouraged by our failures.  We ought never to think that the "bar is too high."  The bar is Jesus Christ. What an awesome privilege it is that we are being perfected in Christ!

 The Christian path is demanding and requires patient endurance.  Many would like to be physically fit athletes without the work that is involved!  Similarly, many are duped into believing that they are spiritually fine even though they do nothing to grow in the spiritual life. Saying, "I don't need to eat well and exercise in order to be healthy" is foolish.  So too is saying, "I don't really need to pray, go to Mass, go to confession, and live virtuously to be close to God."  Instead of thinking and saying such silly things, we ought to man up.

"Besides this, you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep.  For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand.  Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires" Romans:13-11-14).

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Vegan, An NRA Member, and A Catholic Walk Into A Bar

During the past few weeks as I've talked with various students, alumni, interns, FOCUS Missionaries, and people attached to the BU Newman House,  I've been really struck by their ability to talk about their  xperience of encountering Christ and their great desire to continue on the path to holiness.  Their lingo, path, and idiom is shaped somewhat differently than my own, but that is not an obstruction. They're living Christianity with a certain intensity and joy.  They are surprised by what Christ has done in their life and they are fully anticipating the next surprise he has in store for them.

For them, Christ is not an abstraction, but rather a presence that they have encountered.  They speak with gratitude about those whom they have met along the path of their life who have helped them meet Christ and who have helped them to follow Christ.  This is what is missing in so many of our parishes.  We have been trained to speak in generalities and without any specificity.  Christianity is spoken of and lived as though Christ didn't matter.  Or better put, we speak of Christianity as though Christ did not become flesh.  "I'm a good person."  "I like my faith.  It helps me be a good person."  "I'm a Catholic because I think it is important to have some religion."  People are more passionate about being Vegans than they are about being a Christian!  If you speak to a Vegan or a member of the NRA and ask them why they belong to that category of people, you better hang on because you are in for a ride!  But, ask many Catholics why they are Catholic and they say stuff like, "Well, I think despite everything that's wrong with the Catholic Church, it is still kind of like the right religion for me."  

This week, I was evangelized.  In various situations, listening to young people share their experience of Faith, I was moved and strengthened in my own Faith.  They weren't preaching or anything like that.  They were just sharing in a very natural way how the Lord has been working in their life.  I need this in my life.  I need to hear people talk about Christ and what Christ is doing in their life.  It doesn't have to be showy or miraculous.  I just need to hear that Jesus is changing their life day by day, step by step.  This type of witnessing is so convincing!  

The renewal of the Church, the renewal of the Church in the United States, the renewal of each diocese, the renewal of each parish and ecclesial institution, is going to happen through the renewal of each individual heart.  Certainly we ought to strengthen these institutions so that they can be effective vehicles for the New Evanagelization, but there is something prior to all of this.  The priority must be the human heart. The priority must be individuals meeting Christ and sharing the joy of Christ with others.  When I see others moved by His Presence, I am also moved.  In the Gospels, people were moved to follow Christ.  And when others saw these crowds of people following Christ, they too were moved to follow him.  Perhaps, they were just curious. "Why are all of those people--my friends, family, and strangers--all following that guy around.  They were struck by this movement.  Then, they decided that they too would join in and see what this was all about.  Ultimately, each would have to decide whether he or she would stay or go away.  But, what drew them in was the presence and joy of the others.  Either that presence and joy convinces me to stay, or I go away.  

There is something weak in us.  I do not wake up every day convinced.  Some days I do.  Some days, I need a witness in my life.  I need somebody who through their joy and their presence reminds me that Christ is not some idea that I came up with.  No, he is a presence who brings man true freedom and true life. I need to be surrounded by others who tell me about what Christ is doing in their real experience.  I need to see their joy and their conviction. This makes me want to stay with them and continue on the path of Christ.  I need to be in that crowd and hear people answering the question, "So, how did you meet this crowd?"  And, "Why do you stay in this crowd?"  

In order to be real instruments of Evangelization, these crowds must consist of people whose hearts have been moved by Christ.  They have to be people who truly have encountered Christ and whose hearts have truly and really been touched by him.  They have to be people who have encountered Christ and can speak about that encounter.

Evangelization is always about one human heart.  That heart is longing to hear that he is infinitely loved.  That heart is longing to hear that she can find forgiveness.  That heart is longing to hear that he can begin again. That heart is longing to hear there is a reason she exists and that there is a plan for her life.

That heart needs a witness.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The New Evangelization: The Genius of the Popes

There are certain movies that, when flipping through the channels, I cannot help but stop and watch.  Among those movies is Field of Dreams.  I will presume that anyone who is reading this has seen the movie, so I will not describe the film at any length.  All I will say is that the recurring theme is, "If you build it, they will come."  If you follow through on this dream, then the people will come.  The movie ends with hundreds of cars driving to a baseball field built in the middle of nowhere in Iowa.  He built it and they came.

While I love the movie, this is not the model that the New Evangelization ought to take.  Today, Pope Francis told seminarians and novices that "Evengelization is done on one's knees."  It is a perpetual temptation to think that "If we build it, they will come."  If we only had more parking, a parish hall, a swimming pool, a babysitting service, more money, cutting edge technology etc. then our pews would be filled.  If only we built something better, then all of our evangelization issues would be solved.  If we build it, maybe they will come.  But, they'll be coming for nothing.

The Holy Father's reminder today continues a theme begun by Pope Benedict XVI.  We would be foolish to believe that the structures and programs that we create are the way of the New Evangelization.  The New Evangelization is about an encounter with the person of Jesus Christ.  While programs, structures, parking lots, and church cafe's can all be used as tools in making that encounter happen, we humans can easily be duped into thinking that those things ARE the encounter.  We can dupe ourselves into believing that "if we build it, they will come."  Instead, Pope Francis and his predecessor remind us that it is only if we allow Christ to build it will they come and find something of true and lasting value.  Evangelization is not firstly about the tools we use.  It is firstly about living out of the encounter that we ourselves have had with Christ.

In today's Gospel, Jesus sent out the 72 disciples and he gave them a list of things not to bring.  In doing so, the Lord inserts into the work of evangelization something that frustrates our inclination to rely upon our human ingenuity rather than his Divine Power.  Throughout the Scriptures, God always seems to frustrate our desire to accomplish his mission without his assistance.  As Israel prepares for battle, he reduces the number of troops so that they will see that the battle was won by the strength of his arm and not by their numbers.  The multitudes were not fed by their own food, but by his Divine Power.  God did not choose powerful and influential men as his first apostles.  Instead, he chose those who were accounted to be nothing.

Pope Francis reminded the seminarians and novices (and by extension, all of us):

"Without a constant relationship with God, the mission becomes a job. The risk of activism, of relying too much on structures, is an ever-present danger. If we look towards Jesus, we see that prior to any important decision or event he recollected himself in intense and prolonged prayer. Let us cultivate the contemplative dimension, even amid the whirlwind of more urgent and pressing duties. And the more the mission calls you to go out to the margins of existence, let your heart be the more closely united to Christ’s heart, full of mercy and love. Herein lies the secret of the fruitfulness of a disciple of the Lord!
Jesus sends his followers out with no “purse, no bag, no sandals” (Lk 10:4). The spread of the Gospel is not guaranteed either by the number of persons, or by the prestige of the institution, or by the quantity of available resources. What counts is to be permeated by the love of Christ, to let oneself be led by the Holy Spirit and to graft one’s own life onto the tree of life, which is the Lord’s Cross."

Even though the call for the "New Evangelization" has been around for decades, it has only recently gained the attention of many in the Church. There are certain dangers at this particular moment that the "New Evangelization" can be reduced simply to a catch phrase or that it can be co-opted by the failed methods of the past.  In other words, there will be a temptation simply to re-brand what didn't work as "the New Evangelization" and leave it at that. 

Pope Francis seems keenly aware of this danger.  Instead of allowing us to jump on the "If you build it, they will come" bandwagon, he is reminding all of us that what is necessary above all is for "Christ to build us."  If we are totally dependent upon and united to Christ, then the New Evanangelization will bear fruit.  If we put all of our hopes in the structures, programs, and bureaucracies that are already in place or in the ones that we create, then the New Evangelization will grind to a complete stop. 

One of the things that I like about Pope Francis is that he always is trying--through his preaching and example--to move me to do something.  The New Evangelization is about moving; moving towards Christ and being moved by Christ.  Admittedly, some of what Pope Francis has said along the way really challenges me.  I have my own structures, way of doing things, and purse, bag, and sandals that I'd like to put my trust in.  Pope Francis keeps saying, "Forget that stuff and depend upon Christ."

The genius of the New Evangelization is that, in so many ways, it has circumvented the established structures that are so entrenched in their ways. Instead of trying to get bishops, priests, and religious to become agents of the New Evangelization, Blessed John Paul II appealed directly to young people.  He preached Christ to them and their hearts were moved.  In parishes, dioceses, and institutions where the New Evangelization has taken root, the Church is experiencing new life.  The young people that were moved and influenced by the New Evangelization are the young priests and religious of today.  They are the people who are active parishioners and who welcome children into their families.  The genius of the New Evangelization is that it is not dependent upon my purse, bag, and sandals, but rather upon Christ. While it would be awesome if all of our structures, institutions, and leadership were truly engaged in the work of the New Evangelization, we don't have to bemoan that they aren't or wait for them to catch up.  Instead, we have to be on our knees, being moved by Christ.  If I am moved by Christ, then I am part of the New Evangelization.  Being moved by Christ is far more powerful than anything else I can offer to the New Evangelization.  If I am moved by Christ, then I can have certitude that I am doing his work.  If I am working but am not moved, then I can have certitude that I am hindering the New Evangelization.

Blessed John Paul II, Pope Benedict, and now Pope Francis changed the structures by moving the hearts of the faithful.  The New Evangelization is always about being moved by Christ.  It is a movement that happens one heart at a time.  For those of us who hope to be agents of the New Evangelization, we have to trust the way of the three popes.  It is perpetually dependent upon our being moved by Christ and in our sharing the joy of Christ with others. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Faith: Unless We Share What's Inside, Nobody Will Come Inside

They are all over the place.  At the parish where I live, there are several of them.  At the BU Catholic Center where I work, there are several here too.  They are magnificent buildings.  Structures that were built to last.  Structures that said, "We're the Catholic Church and we're here to stay."  Well, that's what they said when they were built.  But now, they've been sold.  Now, they reflect the reality of a diminishing presence and influence of the Church.  When I walk to work in the morning, I pass by a convent that was built for 65 nuns.  It is a massive building and housed the nuns who taught in a Catholic school with four classes of each grade, each class having 60 children.  Now, it is an apartment building.  The BU Catholic Center sits amid a series of buildings that once housed all manner of Catholic life.  Now, with the exception of one solitary building--our Newman House--the buildings have all been sold off.  I look at some of those other buildings and wish that they still belonged to us!

I sometimes look at magnificent churches and beautiful buildings that were once filled with Catholics doing the work of the Church, and wish that I had lived during the time of building rather than during the time of downsizing.  There must have been something quite satisfying about building great churches and opening schools.  Instead, we now live in an age where we struggle to keep things going.  The buildings are now seen not as places to encounter Christ, but as quick fixes to solve budgetary shortfalls.

The buildings, however, are only a reflection of a much deeper problem.  The buildings themselves perhaps may have even become an obstacle to the mission of the Church.  They were built so that people could encounter Christ and live in Christ.  Instead, perhaps the buildings and all that went on inside of them became as Pope Francis keeps saying, "self-referential."  Perhaps we became so convinced of the importance of our structures, programs, titles, and bureaucracies that we lost sight of Christ and his centrality.  Instead of being a place of encounter with Christ, these weighty bureaucracies became obstacles to meeting Christ.

Walking amid these buildings--these ghosts from a bygone era--we can react in various ways.  For some, they can become merely nostalgic for the past.  For others, they can shrug their shoulders and be "accepting" of the new reality.  Others--and these are the ones who really drive me crazy--are the ones who think that if we keep repeating the worn out and failed methods of the past that somehow things will work out.  These are the methods that become alarmed by any sort of zeal for the Faith, for Evangelization, or for the Sacraments.  This way of approaching our future is like a slow-acting poison.  Unfortunately, it is a prominent approach even still.

But, there is another way.  In a sense, we do live in an age that requires building, but it is not the age of fifty, one hundred, or even one hundred and fifty years ago.  We live in a more fundamental age.  The New Evangelization--at least in these first decades--will be about building the foundations of Faith and the Christian Gospel.once again.  Our ancestors in the Faith built buildings in order to minister to the people.  Unfortunately, along the way, we lost the people.  Now, we have to build a people.  This people is built by God.  It is built by preaching the Gospel with joy and with zeal.  It is built by being overwhelmed by the love of Christ and bringing the good news of that love to others.  It is built through the sacraments.

When I was assigned to Boston University's Catholic Center, I was happy to learn that Cardinal Sean O'Malley has invited FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) missionaries to be part of our program.  These young men and women have been so moved by Christ's love, that they give a few years after college to become missionaries on college campuses.  They want to share with other young people the love that they have found in Christ.  As is so often the case, these young people are showing the rest of us what needs to be done.  They are so moved by their own encounter with Christ that they
want to help others to encounter Him.  

When we see a magnificent church or some grand Catholic building, they remind us of the great faith of the people who built them.  But, when they stand sold or empty, they are like monuments to what happens when we fail to be zealous for Christ.  These buildings could all be inscribed with the words of Christ to to the Church in Sardis: "I know your works, that you have the reputation for being alive, but you are dead.  Be watchful and strengthen what is left, which is going to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God" (Rev.3:1-2).  

These facades speak of something that once was.  In so many ways, we can be like this ourselves.  We can speak all of the church lingo and dress in the outward appearance of faith, but we can be empty inside.  We can settle for the appearance of life in Christ, but not the actual life in Christ.  These empty and sold buildings make me sad, but they also make me feel scolded.  Am I living my friendship with Christ in such a sincere way that I am moved to speak of him to others?  Am I zealous in sharing Christ's love with others?  Do I settle for looking like a Christian and a priest, but not really living this life to the fullest?

It would be nice to build a church with spires that can be seen from miles away.  But, this is an age of building the foundations.  This is a moment to share the Gospel with one person at a time. It is easier and safer to spend all of our time putting on the facade of being his disciples.  We can have luncheon meetings where we talk about church stuff and keep going through the motions.  But the real question., I think, is when was the last time I shared with somebody what Christ has and is doing in my life? If we are just looking like the Church but not being zealous in sharing the Gospel, then we are just like the grand facades of empty buildings.  We may have the reputation for being alive, but really we are dead.  And at this point, the facade is probably only fooling ourselves.

As I think about the building in which I work, there is a small sign on the front door that announces we
are the Newman House Catholic Center at Boston University.  That sign is okay.  But, in order to fill up the inside of the building, we need living signs; Catholics who are joyfully sharing the Gospel with those who live outside of this building.  The Builders of this generation are the disciples who will witness to Christ.