"A lay Catholic perspective"

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From Out of Town

by John Lewis


D ID YOU READ the November/December 1996 issue of the Olive Leaf? It was the one on forgiveness. I was tremendously impressed that others had written the very words that I had intended to write, so the following is what I am writing but the good stuff that I meant to write is on the other pages. It's like my life, I missed the mark.

Living my faith never comes easy to me. But when I am with a crowd of other people who love Jesus I feel right at home and nod wisely at all the right times, raise arms in praise and generally look good. It's when I am out in the world that I fall apart. Could you guess that I am a believer by the way I behave or by what I say?

At the Christmas season I think of my friend Horace. We exchange Christmas cards and each year he sends me a beautiful English calendar. I met Horace over fifty years ago when we were teenagers, we lived in the same barrack room for a while. When I wanted to get in touch with him after many years I wrote the Salvation Army in Birmingham, England. They sent me his address immediately; he is still a member of the band, and a faithful worker. Now that Horace is retired from the electricity board, he continues serving the poor with joy. He delights in his wife and children. Horace is the kind of person I would like to be. When the boys in the barrack told coarse jokes or taunted Horace about the band and the banner, he did not respond in anger. I remember "onward Christian soldiers, not too fast in front" was a popular jest. Praise God for Horace's zeal and witness.

Saint Pachomius had a similar experience; while serving in the Roman Emperor's army he was impressed by the behaviour of some people he was billeted with. The result was that he converted from being a pagan to being a great leader in the early Church. He is sometimes credited with being the originator of organized religious community living. We never know how our actions will ripple on down through the centuries; there may be people living in community in Winnipeg who have their roots in the River Nile seventeen hundred years ago. In the Church we have a wonderful family, its called the Communion of Saints.