Evangelizing Jesus…

The subject around here this week was children, and especially today:

–On the phone with my mother on her birthday, I noted, “ I’m appalled at the low-level of Catholic faith formation…” Her reply, “Well, the parents don’t know anything either…”

–On the Internet I read the story of a young woman describing her Catholic upbringing, saying, “I had grown up surrounded by the faith of my parents — studied it in school, practiced it at home and at church, and accepted it at face value. I never questioned it — it wasn’t a faith that was my own…”

–This same young girl is now a teacher and youth minister at a prominent all girls Catholic High School who describes her faith today:

“I will be the first to admit, and sometimes quite vocally, that there are many teachings, practices, and attitudes within the Catholic tradition that I don’t agree with. There are times when I’m not just disappointed by this Church, but I’m angered and wounded, and find myself pondering the questions I’m so often asked by others: “Why do you stay?” or, “How can you teach this?”

And the circle perpetuates.

On the drive to my confirmation class this afternoon I realized I was tired. Exhausted, really… Thoughts on our need for true evangelization soon turned into realizations of my own ineffectiveness this year teaching the faith at home and religious ed. at church. There was a contradiction between the Joyful mysteries and my heart as I drove along praying my rosary.

Before class began I noticed a young Asian boy sitting across the table from me. His family is new to the parish, and I didn’t know much about him, In fact, I thought he was a new student, or visitor. I observed him as he talked with the DRE next to me. There was something special about him. The way he talked reminded me of one of my sons. “You seem to be very intelligent to me.” I said. He just looked at me. “What’s your name?” I asked. (I’ll call him Jesus here…) “Jesus”, I said, “how well do you know the faith?” “Faith?” He replied. There was some silence for a bit, and looking back up at me we launched into this conversation:

Jesus: “My mother is dead.”

Jesus: “My father shot my mother and killed her, and he’s in jail.

Me: “That must have really hurt your little heart Jesus, huh?”

Jesus: “Yea.”

Me: “I know how you feel, I lost my father when I was young. That hurt my heart too.”

Jesus: “My mother told me that I shouldn’t cry for her.”

Me: “Oh, no, Jesus, it’s okay to cry. You loved her right? It’s a good thing to cry.”

Jesus: “I did.”

Me: “Did your mother have faith?”

Jesus: “What?”

Me: “Did your mother believe in God?”

Jesus: “Oh yes, she told me that her spirit would be looking over me.”

Me: “Do you pray for your mother, Jesus?”

Me: “You know, that’s why it’s good to know your faith.” To know God exists.” “Before I had faith I didn’t believe, to me my father was just, well, gone, that was that, the end; I wasn’t aware that we have souls. That my father had a soul which was with God, and at the end of time God will reunite–as with each of us–our souls to our bodies.” “And we shall be like Jesus.” “You know Jesus rose from the dead, and His body is glorified.” “We shall be like that.”

Me: “But you can help your mother through your prayers, now.” “We don’t know the state of our parents souls, she may be in heaven already, or in purgatory, which is why it’s always good to pray for our parents.”

Jesus: “What’s purgatory?”

Me: “Jesus, it’s like a cleansing fire of God’s love.” God is a pure spirit, and He cleanses us before entering into heaven.”

Jesus: “I hurt my ankle playing basketball at school today!”

Me: “You like to play basketball, Jesus?” “Me too!” And I showed him a knot on my ankle from twisting it playing.

Jesus: “I played baseball too!”

Me: “You’re kidding me, right?” “I played baseball as a kid too.”

Me: “What team?”

Jesus: “The Astros.”

Me: “Astros, huh? I played on the Angels.”

Jesus: “Sometimes I get real angry.”

Me: “Really?”

Jesus: “Yea.” “Really angry.”

Me: “That’s when you need to pray hard Jesus.”

Me: “Hey, we should get together and play some basketball together.”

Jesus: “Can you shoot 3’s still?”

Me: “Yea, I still can.” “Well… at least for the time being.”

These are the children we’ve heard about…

END OF POST

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