July 25, 2008

Serra Club vocations essay

Priests, deacons and religious lead others to Christ

By Grace Moore (Special to The Criterion)

Grace MooreGod works miracles through many religious and devoted people in the Church.

He brings kind, godly fol­lowers to us every day in order for us, his servants on Earth, to become as close as possible to him and our faith. God wants us to be close to him, and the people in our lives do truly make a tremendous difference in our faith journeys.

Deacons, priests and religious brothers and sisters demonstrate their faith in God by leading others in their everyday lives to Christ. Those same people cast their nets, fetch for followers and show them the way to Jesus.

I believe that those who chose a religious path show their trust in God by having the confidence and the faith that he will lead them through everything in their lives, and with that same trust they are also able to lead others to him. Having that conviction can alter and change lives with the guidance and faith of the religious.

The wonderful story of a troubled, young man told by my priest at St. Luke the Evangelist Parish, Father Jonathan Meyer, will stay with me forever.

The young man was searching in his life. It was almost as if something was missing. The man didn’t believe in God, but he wanted to serve the poor. In particular, he wanted to serve the poor with Mother Teresa of Calcutta. So a Catholic friend asked him to pray to find God on his journey with Mother Teresa.

So he prayed. Days passed in India and finally Mother Teresa came to him. She asked, “So, you want to see God? Follow me.” He obeyed and they walked to a street where an old, poor, disgusting man lay in his own urine and feces.

She then commanded her visitor to pick him up. He wanted to refuse but knew he couldn’t. With the man in his arms, he followed Mother Teresa. The Missionaries of Charity sister then instructed him to bathe the old man. He placed the man in a tub filled with water, closed his eyes and began to wash him.

The smell was unbearable and the water was filthy so he kept his eyes shut in revulsion. Mother Teresa commanded him, “Open your eyes and you shall see God.” He hesitantly opened his eyes and the water was clean.

Stories like this help all who are touched by them to embrace God. That lost man with no faith was hungry inside. Mother Teresa knew that God was with that Indian man on the verge of death. She knew that it was our duty to cherish, help and protect God’s children just as Christ would do for us.

Mother Teresa led that young man to Jesus through helping the poor. The inspirational religious sister was one of the most amazing people because she was the cause of many conversions, casting her net and bringing people to God.

Over Christmas break, the eighth grade was given the task to read the book Lessons From the School of Suffering by Tammy Bundy and Father Jim Willig. The moving book explains Father Willig’s struggle with cancer.

Reading the book made me feel closer to God. Through Father Willig’s entire journey with this illness, he never once fell away from Christ as he easily could have, but strengthened his relationship, trusting in him.

While ill and suffering, Father Willig brought in many people who were falling away from the Church. I look up to Father Willig and often think about what he endured, remembering how through his suffering he was united with Jesus, as I try to be in my own life with my non-comparable petty struggles. He has passed on, but his profound words continue to lead many to Christ.

Grand gestures like the story of Mother Teresa and Father Willig’s cancer struggle are not the only ways we can become close to God through being deacons, priests or religious brothers and sisters.

Every week in Mass, we witness a miracle and many of us do not even pay attention. Sometimes we are too caught up in our busy lives to even notice the significance in the transformation of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. Through the Mass, priests and deacons are leading us to Jesus, which is something many people from other churches could not even dream about.

We are so fortunate to have those who choose religious vocations in our lives. They devote their entire existence to Christ, leading and guiding others to know him better. They are the reason I am close to Jesus today.

Although some may never even realize it, God brings these people to us. But it is our choice to either follow them to Christ or turn away.

The young man who went to see Mother Teresa did not even have God in his life, but through that amazing sister, whom he followed, Christ is now his Savior. Father Jim Willig is a role model because, during his uphill battle with cancer, Jesus and prayer were his guides, just as they should be in our lives.

I am most grateful for these and other deacons, priests, and religious brothers and sisters who have cast their nets to bring people, including me, to Christ.

(Grace and her parents, Michael and Dana Moore, are members of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis. Last spring, she completed the eighth grade at her parish’s school and is the eighth-grade division winner in the 2008 Indianapolis Serra Club Vocations Essay Contest.)

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