This past Lent my office together with the parishes offered a three-day retreat with lay evangelist Richard Lane on evangelization. He challenged us in the pews to be enthusiastic about our faith. Be happy. Be enthusiastic. Share your stories.
Pharrell Williams was brought to tears of joy at Oprah's show when she showed him a video of people from around the world singing or dancing to his song, "Happy." There is something so special about this song that came deep from his heart.
There is one thing we all want in life and that is to be happy. There is nothing you can do to take that happiness away. No matter what you try to throw at me, I'm going to be happy.
That is what Jesus did for us, with His resurrection. He gave us that ultimate happiness. No one can take that away.
Last month we saw the deaths of two from a parish family. As it would be in other parishes throughout our diocese, when a family member dies there was some sadness. Yet our happiness lives on in our faith that the Lord has prepared a place for us. We were happy for them because we believe in the resurrection. Their funerals were truly a celebration of their lives as we believe that the Lord welcomed them both into heaven.
One man was 54 years old and had Lou Gehrig's disease. I believe he is a saint. The other died suddenly after having open heart surgery. He came to church every Sunday and his witness and love for Jesus will carry on in his children and grandchildren.
Mr. Lane preached on the need to be enthusiastic about our faith; we need to tell our stories and our testimonies. On the last day of the retreat the speaker heard Sister Karen Klimczak's story, by a parishioner from SS. Columba & Brigid. He told us that the Spirit led him to the peace garden. He read in one of the plaques that she had written in her journal 10 years ago that she knew that some man was going to take her life. Even though she knew this, she continued her ministry; she was willing to lose her life so that she would be saved. The speaker said, "You can be an instrument to the world. Each one of us is a specific instrument. We can be an instrument of death and destruction, or we can be an instrument of divine destiny." Her love for Jesus was so great, that she would happily give her life for Him.
During the retreat Lane called up four African-American youths, ranging from the age of 13 to 17. He said they are the most endangered species in the United States and many don't even know it. He said, "In the state of Missouri, three will go to jail before the age of 22." He went on to say in most urban areas one of them will not make it to his 24th birthday. Pointing to another, he will not live to his 28th birthday and then pointed to the third youth and said, he would not live to his 30th birthday. He pointed to the fourth young man and said, statistically, that he is the only one who will make it, if he has a firm foundation. Then he asked, "What are we doing to change our world so that they have a safer world to live in?" The Lord is counting on us, with His help, to make the changes. In order for us to change what is on the outside we need to change what is on the inside. If you trust in Jesus, He will give you Living Water. He has given us all the power we need in the Holy Spirit to make the change.