Fr. Ed Dougherty, M.M.
The Christophers recently sent a small delegation to take part in the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, an amazing multicultural event that is the nation’s largest annual gathering of Roman Catholics. The theme of this year’s congress was “Live Mercy – Be Holy,” and it brought people together in workshops and talks to explore enriching spiritual topics that allow attendees to improve themselves and return to their communities better able to serve others. The call to reach out to others is one of the noblest pursuits a person can undertake, and we should pray that this gathering continues to bear fruit for many years to come. The Christopher News Note Finding Christ in Community features stories demonstrating how lives are transformed when we reach out to one another to build community. One story tells of an elderly couple and a young woman they met who was new to their city and feeling very alone due to circumstances in her life. This couple got her phone number, invited her to their home, introduced her to new people, and sent her beautiful cards during the holidays to cheer her spirits. Recalling that time, the young woman said, “In a time when I was so alone and lost in a new city, a simple conversation opened up a whole path to healing. I felt so loved by these people who truly took a stranger into their hearts and embraced her. It not only nourished my physical and emotional needs, but showed me what the face of Christ looks like, and inspired me to be that person to others.” In his spiritual classic No Man is an Island, Thomas Merton explains how cultivating a relationship with God will help us to build healthy relationships with others. This idea is exemplified in the story of the young woman. That elderly couple showed her the face of God through their compassion, and then she became ready to reach out to others in the same spirit. In Matthew 16:25, Jesus says, “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” This is the lesson that all those who decide to live in service to others have learned, and there’s really no way around the fact that this is the only way to true and lasting happiness. The path of service is the path of the saints, like Catherine of Siena, who once wrote, “If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire.” She proved this statement to be true through the life she led in 14th century Italy. As a young woman, she was devoted to caring for the poor and the sick, and she attracted followers who joined her in this endeavor. God kept calling her to greater involvement in community building to the point where she wound up brokering peace deals between the waring Italian city-states of her time. Like Catherine of Siena, we are called to set the world on fire with a love for God, and the best way to do that is to allow God’s love to shine through us in our relationship to others. Heroic Catholics of our time are embracing this path of service, and we are so blessed to have them in our communities. So let us look to their leadership for inspiration and join with them in reaching out to others to share the love of Christ that is alive within our hearts.
For free copies of the Christopher News Note FINDING CHRIST IN COMMUNITY, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: email@example.com