Earlier this week, I was struck by a line which appeared in an obituary an eulogist wrote for a friend who had died unexpectedly. Addressing his remarks to his deceased companion he wrote: “In a world alarmingly adrift, a world hungry for good news and desperate for such a message, you have shown us that life is good. You are an evangelist.”
There are many ways of evangelizing. Many preach the Good News with words and this, of course, is important – especially when one considers the significance of “the Word was made flesh.”
But, many others preach the Good News through the example of their deeds and their evangelization is a consequence, rather than an objective, of their witness to the faith. Consider those who – knowingly or not – perform the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. These, too, through their quiet manifestation of compassion evangelize, or demonstrate that love which is a reflection of divine love. Or, consider, for example, young parents who in spite of cultural ridicule or the distraction of daily responsibilities follow through on their duty to bring their young children to Sunday Mass. These, too, are evangelists for they are giving witness to something more important in their family’s life than comfort, acceptance and convenience. Evangelization has many forms
The Laboure Society offers an intriguing example of one.
Most of us are unaware of the number of individuals, men and women, who are in the process of discerning a religious vocation. There are more than the media would have us believe and the numbers are both surprising and encouraging . But, we are also unaware of a daunting hurdle these would be religious sisters and priests have to surmount: namely student loans. Many if not most of these “aspirants” are burdened with debt incurred as a cost for their graduate and post-graduate education. They have discerned a religious vocation and have been accepted by diocesan and religious Order authorities. What prevents them from ordination or the profession of final vows is personal debt.
Largely through the instigation of one man, Cy Laurent, there is now an organization which endeavors to help these vocation-rich but debt burdened “aspirants.” The Laboure Society – www.LaboureSociety.org – is a relatively new national movement which helps these aspiring nuns and priests raise funds to discharge the personal debts of a group of candidates for the religious life. The Society trains these individuals in “ethical fundraising” so that they can share their personal vocation stories and participate in building a culture of vocations. Through individual encounters with family, friends and others, the aspirants raise funds not for themselves but for a “class” of aspirants. The result of their combined efforts is the realization of sufficient funds for all in their “class” to move forward in the realization of the vocations.
What would be immediately apparent to anyone who experiences an encounter with one of these aspirants is the evangelizing power of his or her witness. Their purpose is to raise funds to facilitate the fulfillment of vocations generally. But, a precious if not intended consequence of their campaign is their personal witness to the faith and its own evangelizing power on the listeners with whom they share it.
Fresh ideas, fresh approaches, fresh enthusiasm – all evidenced by the Laboure Society – contribute to the advance of the Kingdom.