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Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin
April 12, 2002 Issue

God's grace is found in everyday life

Recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread and the opening of hearts

April 14, 2002, Third Sunday of Easter

By Bishop Robert Morneau

Bishop Robert Morneau
Robert Morneau

Questions for reflection:

1. What are our obligations and duties to other people?

2. What is our vocation (more than job or career)?

3. How do you live the "little way?"

Walker Percy (1916-1990) was a prolific writer both of novels (The Moviegoer, Love in the Ruins, Lost in the Cosmos, The Second Coming) as well as articles dealing with linguistics. Percy was also a convert to Catholicism, along with his wife. One of the most formative factors of Percy's conversion was witnessing a college classmate rise early for weekday Mass. Other influences on his conversion were scripture, the tradition of the Church, the great Christian writers.

In a sense Percy took on the role of an evangelist in that he pointed out to our times the shallowness of our contemporary values that have separated freedom from truth, sexuality from love, spirituality from religious practice. Annually, Walker Percy would make a weekend retreat at a Jesuit retreat house in Louisiana and there he heard again and again the message of Jesus and how to recognize him in the breaking of the bread.

In Patrick Samway's biography Walker Percy: A Life, we are given an insight into a person whose life was influenced by Jesus, the Lord who keeps meeting us on the road. Three passages offer good Easter reflections.

"What does studying Jung have to do with justice and my obligation to other people" (332)? The disciples on the road to Emmaus did not understand the meaning of Jesus' life. A major part of the kingdom is justice. We do well to ask what our daily living -- our business transactions, our table conversations, our recreation - have to do with the obligations and duties we have toward others. The Jesus revealed on the road to Emmaus is a man for others. Justice, as the Church documents remind us, is a constitutive part of the Gospel message.

"But let us speak of vocation. What one ends up doing with one's life is surely one of God's mysteries. A good deal of luck, good luck and bad luck, is involved as well as, God's providence" (402). In the Acts of the Apostles we see Peter boldly proclaiming the mystery of Jesus. Peter's vocation was a great mystery. But far more than luck or coincidence was behind it. God called this fisherman, weak and vulnerable and determined, to be an evangelist and apostle. Though betrayal was part of the mix, Peter humbly accepted the Lord's forgiveness and was given leadership of the Church. God calls all of us, our providential God, to proclaim Jesus by living Gospel lives.

"The peculiar virtue of New Orleans, like St. Theresa, may be of the Little Way, a talent for everyday life rather than heroic deeds" (272). The road to Emmaus is a Major Way, the way of Jesus. Yet it is also a "little way" -- the way of finding and responding to grace in ordinary things. God's grace is at work when families gather at table, when friends stroll through a park in conversation, when visits are made to the hospital and prison, when the homeless are given shelter and the hungry are fed. Herein we recognize Jesus -- the breaking of the bread and in the opening of the human heart. A little way! Rather major, in my estimation.

Walker Percy loved language and he used it to express truth. Jesus, the Word, is God's language to us, indeed, God's truth. When truth is found, we are set free.

(Bp. Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay.)

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