Skip to comments.Announcing New Life -- Christians are called to be not only defenders of life but also restorers
Posted on 07/21/2002 6:37:55 PM PDT by Salvation
Announcing New Life
Christians are called to be not only defenders of life but also restorers of life. by Father Tom Forrest, C.Ss.R.
In this story of the raising of the dead son of the widow of Nain, Jesus reveals himself as a conqueror of death. He comes upon a scene of terrible sadness and changes the anguish of death into joy, the pain of separation into the thrill of reunion. The same power that on this occasion brought a dead boy back to his mothers arms, on many other occasions brought sons and daughters spiritually dead through sin back to the loving arms of a heavenly Father.
As evangelizers, we too are called to be conquerors of death, communicators of new and abundant life, renewers of the human condition as we lead people to rebirth and re-creation. This story of a widow who lost both her husband and her only son to death offers a model of our task as Christians, people of God and servants of his people.
Heralds of Good News. All sin does damage to our lives as children of God. It can even destroy life completely. We have all been born into the death of original sin and must be brought to life by baptism. Those who suffer the death of personal sins must be brought back to life by faith in the victory of Christ. Its our job as Christians to be heralds of the good news, to proclaim to both the physically and spiritually dead that they can come back to life.
The world has never heard happier or more important news. This is more important than any announcement made by Sigmund Freud or Dr. Jonas Salk. We can come back from the dead! We can come back from our wounds, weaknesses, and sins to the health and innocence of the children of God (1 John 3:9)!
In athletics, business, and politics, people work with incredible enthusiasm and determination in their quest of fame, money, power, and pleasure. But no one ever had a goal comparable in importance to that of a Christian as a restorer of life. We are chosen and anointed instruments of nothing less than the resurrection! We are chosen to speak words of life, words of hope, words of rebirth and re-creation, to those who are spiritually or emotionally dead or dying. We are chosen to speak the way Jesus spoke to the dead son of the widow of Nain. We have been chosen to echo Jesus proclamation: Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die (John 11:25-26).
These words have meaning for the here and the hereafter! God the Father raised his crucified Son from the dead so we could rise with him to a new life, the life of Gods children, life in abundance (John 10:10). That life begins with belief, and belief begins with clear proclamation: How are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? (Romans 10:14).
A Culture of Death. The world needs to hear this proclamation of the new life that is ours in Jesus Christ. People can be so misled and confused by what Pope John Paul II calls the culture of death and see death as the easiest solution to many of our problems. Or they can lose their sense of the reality of death as newspapers and news programs bombard their minds with the latest tallies of deaths resulting from wars, acts of terrorism, racial violence, state executions, murders, assisted suicides, and the millions of abortions.
But these are not the only deaths over which we have to proclaim victory. There are also the deaths of marriages, killed by a love turned to hatred or put to death by the suicide of a quick decision to divorce. There are all the suicidal deaths through addictions to drugs and alcohol, the plight of those whose hope has died completely. Vital relationships are dying every day as people allow the tiniest word or slightest offense to end a valuable friendship.
All over the world, peace is dying because nations and cultures do not see their differences as gifts to be shared but as divisions to be resolved through war and death. They have no sense of the forgiveness we have been sent to proclaim!
Messengers of Hope. God is calling us to an action so vital and practical that it can make the difference between life and death. Our task is to be conquerors of death in this valley of tears (1 Corinthians 15:54-57; John 16:33; Revelation 21:4). Like Ezekiel, we must prophesy life back into the dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14). Like St. Paul optimistically calling out Dont worry! after a young boy took a fatal fall from a window (Acts 20:9-12), we must pray to bring back to life all those who have suffered a fatal fall from grace. And like Jesus commanding the mourners, Go away! once he reached the home of the little dead girl (Matthew 9:24), we must restore hope to all those who are trapped in despair and grief.
Jesus commanded his disciples, Preach as you go, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, raise the dead (Matthew 10:7-8). This is exactly what we are doing when we evangelize. We are administrators of the only healing available to those spiritually dead through sin. We are the resuscitators of those dying because of failed relationships, disordered emotions, or overpowering passions. Do you want to know what a Christian is? A Christian is a messenger of hope, an angel of light, a communicator of life with a voice filled with optimism and joy.
We are sent to cry out Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:55). We are to lead every Lazarus we find out of the tomb. We have a message that can transform even the inescapable reality of physical death into nothing more worrisome than a peaceful transition to a better life. We are sent as salt to restore flavor to a world gone sour with too much sin and death (Matthew 5:13). Salt is a preservative. Our job is to keep the world preserved from going bad and dying the death of despair.
We are sent as light to people so blinded by despair that they are unable to forgive others or even to forgive their own sins. We are sent to carry hope, the healing message of the Father of life, to all his beloved children threatened by either the attraction or fear of death.
Passing On the Torch. There is a living Savior to announce, the conqueror of death, the giver of life who calls himself the way, and the truth, and the life (John 14:6). There is a world to be saved, sin and death to be overcome, families and nations to be kept alive in hope, children to be protected, crimes and wars to be avoided, hunger and injustice to be ended. There is a humanity in need of healing, peace, and love. There are millions who need a new life, millions in need of resurrection.
Because the whole world needs us so badly, we cant surrender to discouragement. The world has enough of that already! We must be vibrant, enthusiastic, and dedicated Christians of the gospel of Life. Our task is to pass the torch of life to our fellow Christians and to all people, setting them on fire with joy to share with others the thrilling and totally satisfying life of Christ. We are leaders of Gods Easter people, ministers of nothing less than resurrection.
May we see the dead coming back to life as God uses us as his chosen instruments of the new creation! May the Holy Spirit, who gave life to the church, empower us. May our dear mother Mary, who gave life to the Savior of the world, inspire us to go and bring the dead back to a life destined to last for all eternity, together and alive in Christ. We can bring a world lost in the darkness of death back to the Light of Life!
Any thoughts from any of you?
I love that part! Thanks for posting such uplifting articles. They are an oasis sometimes.
Thought the following story from the webmaster at www.spiritdaily.com, would surely be an inspiritational example of evangelization.
By Michael H. Brown
A little over ten years ago I attended a pro-life conference in Chicago and there met a man named Thomas S. Monaghan, who at the time owned Domino's Pizza, a major-league baseball team (the Detroit Tigers), and a software company. Back then he was said to be worth $600 million but ended up a billionaire.
I was impressed with his wealth, of course, but more so with what he decided to do with it. He said he planned to divest his companies and dedicate the rest of his life to serving his faith, which is Catholicism. He told me two of the very highest points of his life had been meeting the Pope in his private chapel (where Monaghan received Communion from the Pope's hands) and being present for an apparition at Medjugorje in Bosnia-Hercegovina. After his spiritual awakening, Monaghan halted construction on a home that if I recall accurately was to be located in the Ann Arbor area and cost more than $30 million.
The house, I gather, ended up significantly smaller, and true to his words, Monaghan ended up selling both Domino's and the Tigers. He has taken his fortune and used it to build missions or churches in Third World countries like Nicaragua (where he paid three-quarters the cost of a new cathedral) and has founded Ave Maria, a Catholic law school in Michigan. This man who could easily have afforded a fleet of his own jets has also taken to flying coach, and has started up an organization for Catholic CEOs that focuses on spirituality. One newspaper quoted him as saying that the idea came from "divine inspiration." His new goal, he says, is to "die broke."
Obviously, Thomas Monaghan is not going to end up on the street, but it was his way of saying that he planned to allocate most of his money in service to God. I don't know the accuracy of every little detail, but the point is that he is following what Jesus asked of the rich man (Matthew 19:21) and is doing what we all, rich or poor, are supposed to do: take gifts we have been given and use them for the Lord and the betterment not of self but of mankind.
It is time for more CEOs -- for all CEOs, for all wealthy people, and for everyone else -- to wake up to what is right to do with their money. I don't know if everyone is meant to take the exact same course but do you realize how many kids in the Philippines or Pakistan or India or Tanzania can be fed with $1 million -- which is what countless rich Americans spend every year on their yachts?
This is a sin greater than what our "Christian" society will acknowledge.
The Pope himself sternly warned in 1999 (during his trip to the U.S.) against a runaway free-market system and a "purely economic conception of man."
A basic tenet of Christianity is that one cannot serve both God and mammon -- yet this is precisely what a majority of Americans, perhaps a large majority, now do. Too many have become slaves to gold and bonds and the stock market, not realizing that the Catholic Church has long taught that capitalism can become as evil as socialism and that it is wrong to compete selfishly or to gamble or to gouge each other -- to take advantage, to charge "whatever the market will bear."
As historian Barbara Tuchman recounts, our Christian forbearers stated "that profit beyond a minimum necessary to support the dealer was avarice, that to make money out of money by charging interest on a loan was the sin of usury" and that "prices should be set at a 'just' level, meaning the value of the labor added to the value of the raw material." In Church history, usury was considered to be the charging of a higher rate than was absolutely necessary. Take a look at interest payments on new homes or what credit-card companies charge and see if there is something fundamentally wrong with the modern system.
This may seem radical, but it is what is taught by our Church. In a right world, a man makes good money for providing legitimate societal benefit.
But this is not what we see in the modern world. Today we see executives who cart off not millions but tens of millions from companies that aren't even viable and that they did not even start and who when you really look at it produce nothing.
I remember when I lived in Manhattan in the Roaring Eighties and 25-year-old kids who were working the foreign exchange desks down at the World Trade Center could afford limousines and big nights out and I remember the commodity brokers who were sapping the systems while the farmers who actually grew the product were going bankrupt.
Contrast this with Jesus, Who Himself is never recorded to have owned anything but the clothes He wore and the scars from His cross.
I know plenty of wealthy people who are very decent -- and excellent Catholics. Being prosperous doesn't make somebody evil. And being poor doesn't make someone good.
But as Jesus said, how difficult it is for the rich to gain direct entry into heaven.
Tom Monaghan? I don't know Tom Monaghan. We met that brief time. But I'll never forget him. To me, he's an American hero, or at least a great example of a Catholic businessman. The last time I saw him in the news he was proposing to build what might be the world's largest Crucifix (or at least the tallest free-standing one in the West). The proposed 25-story crucifix, planned for the law school campus, would be taller than the old General Motors Building, taller than the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and just 51 feet short of the Statue of Liberty's torch.
I don't know if he's going ahead with that plan, but I know if more CEOs followed his way an awful lot more of them would find their way through the eye of the needle.
Please notify me via Freepmail if you would like to be added to or removed from the Alleluia Ping list.
You will do it! The Small Church Communities sounds OK -- I am just very partial to the Disciples in Mission small group formation.
Dear Mary Foundation Visitor,
John Corapi's Amazing Story" is just that: amazing. You'll have to listen to it yourself to appreciate how one man can go from the utter depths of despair to the heights of supernatural happiness.
Because it was the first recording released to the general public featuring Father Corapi, virtually no one in America knew who he was at the time. Of course, Father Corapi has since become one of the most influential Catholic speakers of our times, appearing at countless conferences, parish missions, and regularly on EWTN, the global Catholic television network.
I often compare Father Corapi to Saint Anthony, who also had the ineffable power of God fueling his speaking ability, giving him supernatural influence beyond the meaning of his words.
You'll find out exactly what I mean when you hear the incredible story of his life. But first, I want to tell you what happened to me when we recorded "John Corapi's Amazing Story."
In 1983, while I was an undergraduate at the University of Notre Dame, a group of students and I decided to consecrate our hearts to Immaculate Mary as members of the Militia Immaculata. One of the men in the chapel that day, was Tony Anderson. After graduating, Tony entered a small and dynamic new congregation called S.O.L.T., the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. It just so happened that Father Tony studied to be a priest alongside an unusually talented man with a water-well-deep voice, and they had just been ordained, side by side, in Rome.
Father Tony gave me a "bootleg" recording of his fellow priest, telling me, "You have to listen to this guy. His story is amazing." So I listened. I was so moved that I loosely based a character in my first novel on his story. And the Mary Foundation decided to introduce Father Corapi to the world. And now you can get to know him, too.
Since then, Father Corapi has given his testimony many times to many audiences, but I'll never forget the day we recorded "John Corapi's Amazing Story" for the Mary Foundation. He happened to be in his hometown in upstate New York. We met with a group of people in the grammar school gym where John had played as a young boy. I set up the recording equipment myself, off to the side, on the hardwood floor.
While Father gave his talk, something happened to me that has never happened before or since. There is a part near the end of the talk where Father Corapi implores listeners to "Answer the call!" You'll know it when you hear it. It's powerful.
During this riveting section, even though I was alone and off to the side in a stale-aired gym several yards from the nearest listener, I smelled the most beautiful fragrance I've ever smelled in my life. It was overwhelming, like heavenly flowers. I looked around to see if someone had spilled a bottle of perfume near me. No one was nearby. There were no flowers in the gym, of course.
The fragrance graced my nostrils for several minutes; it dawned on me what was happening. I had heard stories about the "gift of fragrance" before, usually the scent of roses to indicate that Our Lady was nearby in a supernatural way. Now it was happening to me, Bud Macfarlane, just another guy from New Jersey!
I'm not the kind of person this type of thing happens to. And I'm not a "flowers" kind of guy. I don't like perfume, but this fragrance was different. It was powerful but not in a way that was off-putting. It was as if I was inhaling Beauty itself. It was, in a word, miraculous.
After the recording was complete, I thanked Father Corapi, then went to the people who, although far away, were seated closest to me. They had not smelled anything out of the ordinary. I told Father Corapi about it, and he just nodded in a knowing kind of way.
I drove back to the Mary Foundation, recording in hand, knowing for certain that we had something that was going to help countless souls. And so it has. As I look back on the experience, I often wonder exactly what kind of flower I was smelling.
What it the fragrance of a rose? No, it wasn't roses; I know that smell pretty well, since roses are the only flowers I buy for my wife. The more I reflect upon that incredible day, and every time I listen to "Father Corapi's Amazing Story," the more certain I become that the lovely fragrance from heaven which I smelled during the recording was that of...lilacs.
When you hear "John Corapi's Amazing Story," you'll understand the significance of lilacs.
I warmly invite you to experience this miraculous talk in your own way by requesting your free copy today.
With Immaculate Mary,
Bud Macfarlane, Jr.
On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.
Such large crowds gathered around him
that he got into a boat and sat down,
and the whole crowd stood along the shore.
And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying:
"A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,
and when the sun rose it was scorched,
and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.
But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit,
a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
Whoever has ears ought to hear."
The Parable of the Sower as an inspiration for all who evangelize! (All of us, BTW, as we go through our daily lives in our homes, churches, workplaces and society in general, spreading the Good News of the Risen Jesus Christ.)
The World Needs the Good News
How to Reach Others with the Gospel
Be Natural and Open. In your conversation with friends and acquaintances, share naturally. Dont worry about getting all the theology right, just speak from your heart about the Lord. Talk freely about your Christian activities. Dont be afraid to offer a godly perspective on the news or current affairs.
(1 Corinthians 2:1-5; 2 Corinthians 2:14-17)
Speak Personally and Sincerely. Be courteous and gentle as you speak about your experience of Gods love, his mercy, or his power to change your heart. Avoid religious jargon. Be careful not to be critical or judgmental, but simply share what you know to be true, and let the witness of your life do the work of convincing.
(2 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:6-8)
Pray. Intercede with love and compassionand with patience and perseverancefor those with whom you are sharing the gospel. Dont just pray for a deeper conversion, but pray for their everyday needs and for the other challenges they are facing in life. When you do have an opportunity to talk about the gospel, ask the Holy Spirit to give you the right words and the right heart. Also, ask the Lord to send more laborers into the harvest.
(Matthew 9:36-38; 10:19-20; Philippians 1:8-11)
Go with Urgency
Go! I have a job for you! I commission you and I send you forth and expect you to produce abundant fruit.
The word Go! is used 1,514 times in the Bible. It appears 233 times in the New Testament, and 54 times in Matthews Gospel alone. Jesus says, Go, and be reconciled with your brother (Matthew 5:24). . . . If any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles (5:41) . . . . Go to the other side of the lake (8:18). . . . Go to the lost sheep (10:6)
. . . . Go tell John (11:4). . . . Go, sell all you have (19:21) . . . . Go, invite all you meet (22:9). And finally, Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations (28:19).
The job of saying Go! is something like the job of the engineer who pushes the button that launches the space shuttle. As Christians following Jesus command to evangelize, we need even more thrust, even more power than that. We are not sending a space ship to the moon or to Jupiter. We are trying to bring humankind all the way to God, all the way to heavenly glory. Thats going to take a lot of thrust!
The first push came two thousand years ago from the Holy Spirit. Five minutes after the Spirit was poured out on Pentecost, he had the apostles down in the street evangelizing and baptizing three thousand new believers. I usually grow impatient when I see something requiring dynamic action and immediate response being left undone or done too slowly or done too late to make a difference. Thats how I feel even if the situation is just something Im watching in a movie: Unidentified planes are heading for Pearl Harbor! Oh, its probably just another false alarm. Help, officer! Someone is trying to kill me! Okay, but could I first have your social security number, maam? But I am excited and delighted when an emergency is met with dynamic and immediate action.
No Time to Waste. Do you remember, in every Tarzan film, how quick Tarzan was to come to the rescue? Whenever Jane or Boy was in distress, he came running faster than a deer, swinging through the trees faster than the apes. He knew the job was urgent. There was no time to waste. And he responded accordingly. To a far greater degree, Jesus saw his own mission as extremely urgent. Even as a young boy, he explained, I must be about my Fathers business (Luke 2:49). And when he gives the same message to us, the language he uses expresses urgency: Go out quickly . . . and bring in the poor and the maimed, the blind and the lame (Luke 14:21).
The angel also spoke urgently when he said to the women at the tomb: Go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead (Matthew 28:7). The angel seemed to be saying, No excuses or no hesitation now. Get going fast! After the ascension, another angel was equally urgent: Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go (Acts 1:11). That time, the angel seemed to be saying, And when Jesus comes back, hed better not catch you standing around doing nothing!
We respond with urgency when theres a fire, or a baby falls down a well, or someone has a heart attack. In an urgent situation, a late response is useless. When the chance to do something urgent is gone, its usually lost forever. Thats why its called an emergency. If an office is on fire, does the secretary say, Let me finish my mail first? If a home is on fire, does a father whose children are inside call the fire department a half hour later? Do the firefighters say, Well drop by after our coffee break? Do the firemen and the father calmly talk about the outside chance that the children may get out on their own . . . if everyone just keeps cool?
Doing Our Job. Very often today Christians and the Christian churches are too cool, forgetting Jesus warning: Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth (Revelation 3:16). We dont seem to realize that it is the Fathers house on fire with his beloved children inside! It is not time for just another quiet chat or another workshop!
The mission to evangelize is urgent. We are searching for the lost sheep of Christ, and there are wolves out there! A roaring lion is on the prowl, looking for those he can devour (1 Peter 5:8)! The world is in mourning, and we must roll back the stone to unveil the risen Christ for all the world to see! Without him, there is only darkness. Many people have totally lost their way. And we must bring them home as children of God. They could die without ever coming to know their heavenly Father.
What is our job as Christians? Why are we sent? Why does Jesus tell us, Get going!? Because he wants us to open the eyes of those to whom I am sending you, to turn them from darkness to light, from the dominion of Satan to God, that through their faith . . . they may obtain forgiveness of their sins and a portion among Gods people (Acts 26:16-18). What message are we bringing? There is no other name in the whole world given to men by which they are to be saved (4:12).
What promise are we given? Whoever brings a sinner back from his way will save his soul and cancel a multitude of sins (James 5:20). The first Christians had a strong sense of urgency: Every day in the temple and at home they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ (Acts 5:42). As Paul exclaimed, Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! . . . I am entrusted with a commission. . . . I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. . . . To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some (1 Corinthians 9:16-22).
Pope John Paul II also frequently reminds us that our task today is especially urgent: The urgency of the churchs mission is obvious (Mission of the Redeemer, 3). What moves me even more strongly to proclaim the urgency of missionary evangelization is the fact that it is the primary service which the church can render to every individual and to all humanity in the modern world, a world which . . . seems to have lost its sense of ultimate realities and of existence itself (Mission of the Redeemer, 2).
Lets Get Going! So lets go. Lets go with God: It was God who multiplied the descendants of Abraham like the sands of the sea, and the stars of the sky (Hebrews 11:12). When the early Christians preached to the Greeks in Antioch, The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number that believed turned to the Lord (Acts 11:20-24).
Lets go with the word: Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, like a hammer shattering rock? (Jeremiah 23:29).
Lets go together and without competition: It was as the apostles gathered together in prayer that they experienced the very first Pentecostand the beginning of worldwide evangelization. As Paul noted, Some preach Christ from motives of envy and rivalry, others do so out of good will. . . . What of it? All that matters is that in any way . . . Christ is being proclaimed. That is what brings me joy (Philippians 1:15-18).
Lets also go with courage: I am not ashamed of the gospel. It is the power of God leading everyone who believes in it to salvation (Romans 1:16).
But today, more than anything else, lets go with urgency! We are heralds of Christ, heralds of salvation. In ancient times, the news of a victory was carried by a messenger, a trained runner who sometimes ran himself to death to bring the good news as quickly as possible. How wonderful it is to see a messenger coming across the mountains, bringing good news, the news of peace! He announces victory and says to Zion, Your God reigns (Isaiah 52:7).
The World Is Waiting. A reliable messenger is refreshing to the one who sends him, like cold water in the heat of harvest time (Proverbs 25:13). We have very little time. Tens of thousands will die today without having heard of Christ, without coming to know their heavenly Father. If we work urgently, their numbers will be less and the number of the saved will grow. The Fathers house will be filledand the Father will be pleased that his Son did not die in vain.
So take off! Shoot for the stars! Shoot for the heights of holiness! And take as many as you can along for the ride. Ill see you when we get there! Ill see you in glory! And if you bring along a greater crowd than I do, I will only be delighted!
For now: Go! Go with urgency! Theres a whole world waiting to be evangelized, waiting for you. Go, chosen herald of Jesus Christ! Run with urgency! Run to win! No one ever had a greater opportunity or carried better newsthe good news that Jesus Christ is with us, freeing and sanctifying us until the end of time!
The word Go! is used 1,514 times in the Bible. It appears 233 times in the New Testament, and 54 times in Matthews Gospel alone. Jesus says, Go, and be reconciled with your brother (Matthew 5:24). . . . If any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles (5:41) . . . . Go to the other side of the lake (8:18). . . . Go to the lost sheep (10:6) . . . . Go tell John (11:4). . . . Go, sell all you have (19:21) . . . . Go, invite all you meet (22:9). And finally, Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations (28:19).
My friend PA [who is 72 today!] has a conversion story he shared with me, and wanted me to pass along:
Please keep our family in your prayers, always. Michelle, we have experienced two conversions to Holy Mother Church. One was our beautiful daughter-in-law Kim. She is a Cambodian that escaped her country and fell in love with our son Patrick Joseph. She always envied Pat's peace at Holy Mass. She was having a problem at her work and would go to their local parish and sit in on rosaries and other various prayers that they did at this wonderfuly parish. A wonderful nun noticed that Kim attended many of these prayer groups. She also noticed that on Sunday, Kim never went to Holy Communion with Patrick. This wonderful and observant nun confronted Kim one day and said, "Dear Sister, What is your name and why do you not go to Communion?" "Dearest Reverend Sister, I am a Budist and I am not a Catholic." The sister said, "Kim, you have been touched by the Holy Spirit and you shine in the eyes of God. I will sign you up with the next class. Michelle, to make a long story short, Mary and I were the God Parents for Kim. A lovely lady in the parish stood up for her for Conformation. And we all witnessed her First Holy Communion. Seven of our eight children and I cannot tell you how many grandchildren were there.
Isn't that great?? =)
A Sign of Gods Love
Papal Teaching on the Call to Evangelize
God is opening before the Church the horizons of a humanity more fully prepared for the sowing of the Gospel. I sense that the moment has come to commit all of the Churchs energies to a new evangelization. . . . No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples.
Pope John Paul II, Mission of the Redeemer, 3
We cannot be content when we consider the millions of our brothers sisters, who like us have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, but who live in ignorance of the love of God. For each believer, as for the entire Church, the missionary task must remain foremost, for it concerns the eternal destiny of humanity and corresponds to Gods mysterious and merciful plan.
Pope John Paul II, Mission of the Redeemer, 86
The missionary is a person of charity. In order to proclaim to all his brothers and sisters that they are loved by God and are capable of loving, he must show love toward all, giving his life for his neighbor. The missionary is the universal brother, bearing in himself the Churchs spirit, her openness to and interest in all peoples and individuals, especially the least and poorest of his brethren. As such, he overcomes barriers and divisions of race, cast or ideology. He is a sign of Gods love in the worlda love without exclusion or partiality.
Pope John Paul II, Mission of the Redeemer, 89
For the Church, the first means of evangelization is the witness of an authentically Christian life, given over to God in a communion that nothing should destroy and at the same time given to ones neighbor with limitless zeal. As we said recently to a group of lay people, Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.
Pope Paul VI, On Evangelization in the Modern World, 41
An Interview with Billy Donovan
TWAU: What can you tell us about your early years?
Billy Donovan: My two sisters and I grew up in New York. We were a strong Catholic family who went to church together every Sunday. My dad also brought me to church on a regular basis just to talk to God. He was always telling me about the importance of faith.
My sisters and I really admired our parents. We admired the sacrifices they made for us and the way they were always challenging us to tackle our work head-on. They were very honest, straightforward people. They never deceived us or misled us, but were always truthful and plainspoken.
They were also very clear in telling us that we would face adversities in our lives. Things dont always go the way we want them to, but its the way we handle these adversities that determines the kind of people we will be.
TWAU: What can you tell us about the way your parents shaped your spiritual outlook?
Billy Donovan: As I mentioned earlier, my Dad made it a point to take me to church on a regular basis. Sometimes he took me just so I could be with him when he went to pray. At other times, he asked me to turn to God and pray. This was especially true when I would be going through a difficult time in my life.
We didnt have a formal time for family prayer, but Dad did make sure we thanked God for all the blessings he had given us, especially for our family. It was the witness of my parents faithshown mostly through their leadership and their lovethat had the greatest impact on me. Now that I have children of my own, I only hope that I can do for them what my parents did for me.
TWAU: How did you get into basketball?
Billy Donovan: For a number of years, my dad was my coach in the local CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) basketball league, so he coached me all the time. By the time I reached fifth grade, I had fallen in love with the game. It was the only sport I wanted to play.
I loved basketball, but I wasnt a superstar. I was the kind of player who had to work extra hard. As I got older, my coaches saw my willingness to work at it and so they took time for me, both during practice and after everyone else had gone home. They helped me take my limited talents to new heights.
These men were a great witness of generosity and kindness to me. They taught me how to be focused on a mission. They expected every member of the team to do their best for the entire practice. If it was a two-hour practice, then we were expected to spend all two hours doing the very best that we could.
TWAU: How did you get into coaching?
Billy Donovan: After I completed my education at Providence College, I went to work on Wall Street as a stockbroker. I must tell you that it wasnt much fun at all. In 1989, I decided to make a career change. I called Rick Pitino, who coached me at Providence and was then working at the University of Kentucky, and told him that I wanted to get into coaching. At first, he tried to discourage me, but when he saw how passionate I was about the game, he hired me to be his graduate assistant. I worked with Rick for the next five years. Then, in 1996 I accepted the head coaching job at Marshall University. Two years later, I accepted the job as head coach of the University of Florida.
As I look back on this path from a spiritual standpoint, I can see that God gave me a passion and a talent for basketball and then led me into coaching. He has given me this opportunity, and in my heart I know that I have a special responsibility which goes beyond coaching. I have a responsibility to help young people have faith in God and to put Christ in their lives. At some point, every young person will face some kind of adversity. I want to tell them that the one thing that will help them get through these challenging times is faith.
As a coach, I think its critical that my players trust me. They have to believe that I know what it takes to win. They also have to believe that I am helping them grow as individuals, not just as basketball players. I strive to build a personal relationship with each of my players. I encourage them to come into my office and feel free to talk to me about basketball issues, girlfriend issues, school, or anything else. I want my players to say, Billy Donovan isnt just my coach, he also cares about me as a person.
TWAU: What role does God play in your coaching?
Billy Donovan: God plays a major role. There are many times when I feel that Christ is using me to talk to the players. For instance, I tell them that we are on this team because God gave us the opportunity to be here. I tell them that God is in control of everythingof my ability to coach and their ability to playand that we need to put our faith and trust in him.
I dont pray for wins. I pray that our lives can be in harmony with God and with the way the Bible tells us to live. I pray for wisdom, knowledge, and strength. I ask God to give my team a good work ethic so we can do our best in preparing for each game and in playing the game. If this leads to a victory, then so be it.
TWAU: So, what about your family? How do you balance work and home, and what role does God play in your family?
Billy Donovan: Coaching isnt the easiest profession for a husband and father to have. I dont want to get so caught up in my work that I neglect the ones I love the most. I always try to spend quality time with each member of my family. When Im home I spend as much time as I can with them and try not to let work get in the way.
Spiritually, I want my kids to understand that we live in an imperfect world. Were all going to sin and make mistakes, but I want my family to know that we dont have to live in the guilt of sins. The best thing God did for us was to send his Son, Jesus, to die for our sins and save us so that we could be with him in heaven. I want my children to know how much Jesus loves them.
I pray that as my children grow older they will freely accept Jesus into their lives. I know that God will provide the opportunity for this to happen, but I also know that my children have to make a personal decision when the opportunity presents itself. Our family is young. As our kids grow older, they will have to make their own choices. For now, my wife Christine and I need to show them how important Jesus is to us, just as my parents did with me.
TWAU: Can you tell us a bit about what happened to you and Christine a year and a half ago?
Billy Donovan: In October of 2000, when Christine was nine months pregnant with our fourth child, she became concerned because all of a sudden, she wasnt feeling any movement from the baby. A few days later, our daughter Jacqueline was stillborn. It was the most devastating experience we ever went through. I cant begin to explain what Christine was feeling. She had carried Jacqueline within her for so long. For me, it was very hard to accept. I know Jacqueline is in a better place, but not having her with us really hurt.
When I asked, Why? my mind raced. Was it because I wasnt a good person? Did I do something to offend or upset God? Is God doing something drastic to get my attention? In hindsight, I dont believe any of that stuff now. We will never know why our daughter died. We would love to have Jacqueline with us and to watch her grow and develop, but for some reason God wanted her with him. This is the way we look at it. Maybe Jacquelines not being here is the best thing for her.
What happened to Jacqueline affected my outlook on life. I saw how fragile life could be. I saw how we are here on earth for only a short time. I saw how God wanted me to use every second of my life to do the best job that I could with my family, with the players and coaches, and in my life in general.
Ill never forget what it felt like for Christine and me to tell our kidsages eight, six, and threethat their baby sister wouldnt be coming home. It was very painful and yet, I believe that our great loss will bring us closer together as a family and closer to God.
TWAU: What advice would you give our readers?
Billy Donovan: I want people to know that God is good, all of the time. Sometimes we cant explain things. Sometimes we have severe problems to face, like divorce, prolonged sickness, or the loss of a job. In those times, the only thing that will get us through is faith.
Faith is believing without seeing. We have the Bible. We know that God is with us. We believe that he will provide the means to get us through every adversity. The Bible says that God wont give us something that we cant handle. Our faith and our relationship with Christ will carry us through each day.
At the same time, we have to carry our share of the load. I want to encourage everyone to try their best, no matter where they are in life. We have to try to treat one another with the same kind of respect and compassion that we would like to receive ourselves. Isnt that what Jesus taught us to do?
Finally, we all need to try and reach out to others and coach them. Perhaps at your office, or maybe as a Little League coach, or maybe in music. God wants us to share our talents and help others. If it werent for my parents and a few good coaches who went out of their way to help me, I doubt that Id be where I am today.
Obviously, Thomas Monaghan is not going to end up on the street, but it was his way of saying that he planned to allocate most of his money in service to God."
This should be interesting...it's pretty hard to OUTGIVE GOD. :o)
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