November 25, 2011

The ‘parable of the iPod touch’ applies to faith sharing

Mike Patin used humor and storytelling to connect with the 23,000 people who attended the Nov. 18 morning session at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis during the National Catholic Youth Conference. (Photo by Rich Clark)

Mike Patin used humor and storytelling to connect with the 23,000 people who attended the Nov. 18 morning session at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis during the National Catholic Youth Conference. (Photo by Rich Clark)

By John Shaughnessy

Before he shared “the parable of the iPod touch” to make a point about faith, Mike Patin used a touch of humor to connect with the 23,000 teenagers at the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis.

Patin recalled a moment from trying to teach the Catholic faith to small children at his Louisiana parish—a time when he asked the boys and girls, “Where is God?”

One boy kept waving his hand, a boy that fit Patin’s belief that “every class has one person you should not call upon.” Still, in a moment of kindness or weakness, Patin called upon the boy.

“He looked me square in the face and said, ‘God is in my bathroom,’ ” Patin recalled in his rich Cajun accent. “Now, I’m over 50 and hard of hearing, and I thought it was my hearing so I said, ‘What did you say?’ He said, ‘God is in my bathroom.’ I said, ‘What do you mean God is in your bathroom?’ He said, ‘Every morning, when I wake up, to go to school, I go out in the hallway, and my daddy is banging on the bathroom door, ‘My God! Are you still in there?!’ ”

The crowd inside Lucas Oil Stadium roared with laughter during that morning general session on Nov. 18. The laughter continued as Patin, the keynote speaker for the session, began his parable of the iPod touch, an electronic device that can shoot video, make video calls, and play music, videos and games.

Patin shared how he received the electronic device as a Christmas gift last year from his 19-year-old daughter, Megan. He also shared how he received a stern lecture from her when he was so intimidated by the device that he first decided to use it as a paperweight and then as a door stopper.

“She said, ‘Excuse me, do you know how much I sacrificed for you to have this because I know what you love? Do you know how hard it was for me to give up certain things so that you could have this? Do you know what you can do with this? You can listen to music, you can do videos, you can download applications, you can have

e-mails, you can download games and play ticked-off birds or whatever it’s called.’

“I looked at her and said, ‘Yeah, Meg, I got it, but there’s so much in there. I don’t know how to run it all. I’m not going to use half the applications that are there. Meg, it’s just all right. Let it go.’ She said, ‘Yeah, you can use it as a doorstop, but you know that’s not what it was made for, and you’re insulting me.’ ”

After mentioning how “it’s something when your daughter dresses you down,” Patin made the connection for the audience between his fear and uncertainty in using the electronic device and many people’s fear and uncertainty in sharing their faith.

“Everybody in here is an iPod, but some of us are playing like we’re a doorstop, and some of us are playing like we’re a paperweight because we’re scared to take the chance to really be what we were made to be,” Patin told the audience. “St. Catherine of Siena said, ‘Be who you are called to be, and we will set the world ablaze!’ ”

Patin said he understands how people get caught up in comparisons to others, leaving them with the feeling that they’re not the right person to share their faith.

“But your playlist is not supposed to be like the person next to you,” he said. “Because I guarantee you, there are some of us here who are like, ‘Share Christ? Not me. I’m too shy. I’m too short.’ ”

He paused and then challenged everyone, “Be who we were called to be.”

“You’re going to hit places I ain’t ever going to be able to hit—the mall, Facebook, your friends, your school,” he continued. “I’m asking you as a teenager who’s struggling and trying to find Christ and working at staying connected to learn to use your style, your playlist.

“We share Christ by giving our care and our gifts and our talents to others. Do you understand that you’re the hands and the feet [of Christ]? Are you willing to make room to let him in, and let him use you so you can leave this place and be his presence out there?”

Holding the iPod touch, Patin shared one more thought.

“I got to play it. I ain’t a doorstop.” †


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