Monday, May 4, 2009

Encountering Catholics

My high school years brought some unique encounters with Catholic thought and practice. My sister and I were waitresses in a café. Our boss was a very devout Catholic. She never talked to my sister or me about what Catholics believe. I’m guessing she realized the sheer impossibility of changing the minds of her two employees, the only non-Catholic employees in the place, and the daughters of a Protestant minister to boot.

But here’s what I can tell you about Pauline. Whenever a priest or sister ate in the café, their meals were always on the house.

Pauline was a single mother and she never missed Mass. Her husband had left her years earlier, and moved into a place directly across the street from the restaurant – with his new wife. Pauline ran that restuarant for many decades, working harder than anyone I've ever known, and her husband and new wife were just yards away. Pauline could see them from the front window, the two newlyweds sitting at the poolside of the KOA Campground that he'd gotten in the divorce.

Pauline never remarried. Never. Looking back, I realize that this isn’t because she never felt lonely or rejected or in need of companionship. But there was one companion she would not relinquish, and that was her Eucharistic Lord.

If you are in this same place, forgotten and rejected by the one who promised to love you forever, I encourage you to remain faithful to the Church. You never know who might be watching, who might be taking mental notes. How you handle this crisis will not only affect your soul - it might affect the soul of another person. You just never know who's watching.

It is easy to be faithful when things go right, but that rarely gets anyone’s attention. But if you remain faithful when things go tragically wrong, that’s when your witness speaks the loudest.


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