This beautiful summer morning, I took my ever-mischievious dog for a walk. You know the kind of dog: unless walked 1 hour per day, the pooch begins to manifest doggie depression, wreaking havoc all the live long day.
While walking along, I decided to take the opportunity to say my rosary. As I prayed, my Hail Mary’s matched the rhythm of my step. The Blessed Mother asked me this question:
“What if everyone knew you were a catholic?”
Huh? Are you talking to me?
My feverish imagination began working overtime on the concept. I pictured denomination labelling on every curb, alongside the house address. We would see “catholic,” “methodist,” and probably lots of “undecided.” There would be those who are proudly atheist or agnostic curbside as well. Maybe we would find the lost who would definitively declare they haven’t any idea which way to go on the subject. People could post beautiful yard signs with gorgeous art-work proclaiming the Good News. (Hey, why not? Political campaigns do it, so why not us on our own property?)
Would our own declaration of faith cause us to experience hate or ridicule, or would it prompt fruitful discussion among neighbors?
The movies and TV have long portrayed Christians as Bible-thumping fundamentalists who lack love for our neighbor, as black-and-white thinkers who have had our humanity surgically removed as we pronounce judgment upon poor unsuspecting sinners in our midst. We are portrayed as weak fools who trust in a fabled God who will rain down his anger on the world at any moment. Jesus is lost in the propaganda-filled equation. Of course, naysayers cannot possibly understand Christians without Him. Our relationship with Jesus provides a lens by which we view the world in a different way. Without the lens (the teachings of the Church), we either become blind, or we fill our eyes with the things of the world which threaten to blacken our very souls.
But what if our neighbors actually knew us by our faith? Could they actually persist in hating us after our “announcement” when they already know us as good neighbors? Or would it make their half-formulated picture about us more clear and complete?
While the media may work day and night to shame us, to try and make us reluctant to profess our faith, we need to stand up. Why should we be embarrassed by a dimly portrayed version of ourselves as seen in the movies? If we speak out in love for our fellow man, we need not be afraid. There may be reprisals if the words we use are not chosen with the utmost of care. You may need to reveal yourself and your catholic perspective slowly over time to your friends outside of the faith. It may take time for people to adjust to the new (Old) you, but take comfort in this: God has known your name since the foundation of the world. You are important to Him and have a very special part to play in your best role ever: YOUR LIFE!
Your life IS the billboard that people “read” all about you every day. Try as we might, as much as we are made to feel reluctant to reveal ourselves, you cannot hide the magnificent light inside, courtesy of your baptism. Even in times of doubt, people can still tell what God made (YOU) is of the finest quality, since He created you in His image. You can’t get better than that!
So to those who may be more reluctant to tell people at the water cooler at work that you are catholic, don’t be. Your faith, even when expressed silently in your actions and kindness, is most likely the anchor people rely on within friendships, in your neighborhood, even at work. God certainly isn’t one bit reluctant to claim you as His own, so don’t let Him down. No yard sign or spray paint on the curb need hide God’s child, and I for one am very proud to be the daighter of a King.