Recently, a fellow member of the Catholic Press and I were greeted with an unexpected religious grilling of sorts while visiting at a St. Paul coffee shop. While the scenario was not one out of the ordinary, the questions that followed me home weighed heavier than they ever had before.
The woman, a local event planner, had noticed one particular article among an abundance of newsprint covering our table. A front-page story highlighted the proposed Archdiocesan closing and clustering of many parishes prior to any formal announcement. She was convinced that if she were commissioned to orchestrate a large fundraiser, there would be no need for such drastic measures. We both assured her, at the time, it was nothing more than speculation and likely had to do with a variety of issues, not entirely limited to financial reasons.
Immediately, she inquired whether or not we worked for the church. How could we possibly know more than the newshounds of the greater metro area? Well, where did you go to school? St. Thomas. What did you major in? Catholic Studies. Oops, all it took were our wry smiles and subtle nods of the head for the floodgates to her years of Catholic inquiries to come pouring out.
An hour later, mentally exhausted, we left having fielded everything from Church teaching on contraceptives to celibacy and each hot button issue in between. Feeling a bit defeated in the certain inadequacies of our responses, we packed up to leave. Upon exiting the establishment, we declined another party's invitation to sign a petition in support of gay marriage.
Our two opportunities to witness that day left us feeling insufficient and a bit like the minority. It prompted us to ask why, despite all of our logic and reason, no matter how fundamentally we may present the faith, our efforts can seem so futile. Furthermore, we wanted to know, why don’t people just get it?
Perhaps the more pressing question: Why don't I?
The morning’s encounters remained at the forefront of my thoughts all two and a half hours of my drive home that day. The question on my mind? Is this what it means when Carron speaks so frequently of changing the I first?
I know it must be so, but what am I to do in the interim with the sense of urgency that I have for every person I encounter to fall in love with the faith as deeply as I have?