The Living Rite column explores what you will see, hear, taste, touch or smell while at church this weekend.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to take some days off to travel to Evansville, Ind., to visit my niece and her family. I stopped for a lunch break in Kankakee, Ill., and ran head on into a living version of the Gospel we hear this Sunday. As I left the restaurant a man sporting a noticeable cross around his neck came up to me saying “I have something for you.” I expected to be given some type of Bible tract, but instead he handed me a beautiful medallion of St. Michael. I was elated since Michael is one of my “go to” patrons. Having this remembrance of him with me on my trip indicated to me a particular gift of protection. We conversed for a few minutes, I mentioned Oshkosh and he responded that he “flew” into Oshkosh every year for the EAA. So who knows, perhaps I was entertained by an angel.
As I continued on my trip, the medallion of St. Michael lying next to me on the seat, I thought about the fact that I do little more than acknowledge him in the prayer to St. Michael. As I thought more about him, I felt a renewed interest in this saint, in the work he is commissioned to do both in heaven and on earth and in the intercession he does on my behalf. The medallion was turning out to be more than an interesting trinket I was given on the journey.
In each of our churches, there are beautiful images and statues, with our Blessed Mother probably being the most visible. Holy Mother the Church has given these images to us saying, “Here I have something for you.” Look around your church. What image of Mary or a saint are you particularly drawn to? Take time to approach that image, study it and pray to the one represented by it. What is it that attracts you? How engaged have you been in your relationship with this saint? What influence on your own life does this saint have? Looking at the image, is there anything that is stirred within you, calling you to model your life to that particular saint?
Cherish the liturgy and the church in which it is celebrated. Both are a means to inspire and strengthen you. Our Gospel for the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time, tells us that Jesus sent 72 before him to ready the way before he came to a village. At every liturgy we hear proclaimed “… Christ will come again.” It is clear, now is our time to do the same. Unify yourself with the communion of saints, our fellow Christians who have gone before us after giving witness to Christ through a lifetime of faithful service to him. Believe that they are near to us with compassion and love, and are constantly interceding for us.
Secure in that knowledge, may we become emboldened enough to act on this Sunday’s Gospel, perhaps even carrying in our pocket several medals or holy cards of a favorite saint to hand out to strangers saying, “I have something for you.”
Zahorik is pastoral associate at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Oshkosh.