“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
In Peabody Mass, there is marvelous mall called The North Shore Mall. It has changed a lot over the years. Shops, stores and eating establishments have come and gone. But one particular place has been at that mall since January 28, 1960. A place that stood out as an spiritual ouisis in the midst of a sea of consumerism and marketplace for material possessions. That is the Carmelite Chapel. After trying a sample from the chinese food outlet and grabbing some new clothes from Macys, you can head on down to Mass at 3:00PM. Of perhaps you might go a little early and go to confession. It is not just a little chapel but a pretty good sized one where one can go and receive the sacraments and sit in adoration and pray a rosary or invoke the many saints whose statues line the walls.
I used to go in their and pray a lot. Especially when I was on break from work. I used to work in the gift shop associated with the chapel. After praying you could come in a buy a confirmation gift or pick up a new book from a good Catholic author. I was graced to work in a place that allowed me to pray to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament very easily. The chapel was not the only job in which I had that opportunity to have Jesus so close by. I also worked at CatholicTV in Watertown Ma, where after going over the TV schedule for the network seen by several thousands of people everyday, I could take a break and go and visit Jesus. I could watch Mass as I was working and then go down and receive communion.
When I worked at a Catholic nursing home in Framingham Mass, five minutes from my house, I again encountered another place where Jesus lay in waiting for me to come and visit him. Again during breaks I would go into and kneel down and prop my head down on a bench and sit and let the silence of God engulf me. Every morning before I proceeded to the kitchen I would greet Jesus by popping my head into the chapel, right by the entrance, genuflect and greet my Lord and my God.
I recently moved to RI where I work in another nursing home. It also has a chapel in which there is a little red light on, next to a tabernacle. And I’m actually unsure if Jesus is really in there or not. There are marian statues and rosary beads decorating the walls, but is it Catholic? I ask this question because the place I work at is a Episcopalian nursing home. Well, it was set up as one, but it is more secularized now then maybe it once was. Regardless there is a chapel on the second floor with a red light on. So I kneel. Just in case. I walk walk up the stairs before I proceed to punch in for the day and genuflect. I do this everytime I walk by it, and before I go home for the evening. When I taught Catechism to middle school kids I taught them to genuflect in front of the Blessed Sacrament by telling them to imitate NFL player Tim Tebow in the way he would kneel during games. Just Tim Tebow in front of the tabernacle.
I often wondered if my kneeling would inspire some elder into thinking that ‘Yes, people still take God seriously.” Well it did draw attention from one of my young co-workers who saw me kneel.
“Your praying”? she asked me.
“Are you Catholic?” I asked.
“I’ve never been to Church”, she replied.
I said something like this in reply. “Well I’m Catholic and we believe as Catholics that God is really present in that chapel. He makes himself as bread and wine. Not just symbolically, but literally. As Catholics because we believe he is really there, we show reverence by kneeling or bowing.”
“Oh, Ok. That’s good.” she replied. Or something like that.
Will this seed inspire her to seek out more info about religion? It’s happen before. I read a story once in a Chuck Colson book that an atheist child in Soviet Russia got converted to God by watching the falling snow. So it could happen. Maybe years down the road. I pray for it to happen. But the overall point in this blog post is that by just being yourself as a Catholic, you can witness the faith to others. People at work have noticed that I wear a scapular and have indicated that I must pray for them all a lot. I actually admit I don’t pray for people as much as I should. But they take me as a person who prays. One of my co-workers who believes and takes Catholic faith seriously called me one morning to see if I could come in on my day off to help out. She woke me up. Later on she told me she thought I might have been at church when she called.
If you take your faith seriously and live it out, you can inspire others to wonder and ask questions about your faith. Without preaching or being obnoxious you can witness your faith by such simple things as wearing a scapular or miraculous medal, finger rosary beads, genuflecting when you see a tabernacle, going to the sacraments, reading the bible or a spiritual book. And when people ask, ‘Why are you kneeling?”, you can tell them.
Here is an example of how just being yourself can lead others to Christ and his church. Gaining Faith in College