This week found me preaching in Springfield, Missouri at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church. It is a large Church consisting of some 1700 families. I was invited here by the Pastor, Monsignor Tom Reidy. Monsignor Reidy stated that he got my name a while ago from a parishioner at one of his former parishes, whose brother had heard me speak somewhere!
I love the opportunity of traveling around, meeting new people, watching how others celebrate the Liturgy and exploring unknown territory. Nonetheless, whether I am preaching in Missouri or Pennyslvania, whether it be New York or Washington, one thing always remains the same: PEOPLE ARE HUNGRY FOR THE WORD OF GOD; PEOPLE ARE HUNGRY FOR THE TRUTH.
I hear more and more from people who say that they WANT the truth preached to them. They don't want the Scritpures or Jesus' message watered down. In my case, people want to be taught, reminded and once again assured that our Catholic Faith is alive and well.
For the past four days, 900 to 1000 people have packed into this Church not so much to hear me preach, sing or tell stories. People have come together in this Church to once again rediscover, renew and be challenged in their own Christian journey. The people of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Springfield, reached out to me, a stranger in their midst, and together, we journedy these past four days through the joys, challenges, struggles and opportunities we have as being Catholics and Christians.
So many Preachers, Pastors, Teachers, Ministers and even Parents are so afraid of speaking the truth and worrying that what they preach may be rejected or result in a lack of tithing from parishioners. But haven't we always learned that "the truth will set us free?" Wasn't it Jesus who, when one of his disciples came to him sharing that people were disturbed at his teachings and that even some of his own disciples would leave, responded to this particular disciple by saying: "Are you going to leave too?"
There are always proper ways, methods and tools that can be used in communicating truth. However, the most important tool is CONSISTENCY. Being consistent in the message and realizing that YOU and I are NOT THE MESSAGE but the Messenger is the key to speaking truth effectively.
Tomorrow, I head back to REALITY, the day to day tasks of Parish Life. And in the same breath, the people who have flocked to this church night after night also head back to reality. It will be both of our tasks to live out what we have heard and to practice what has been preached; not so much from the talk that we talk, but the Walk that we walk.
P.S. IF YOU ARE EVER IN SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI TRY OUT: VALENTINES RESTAURANT, LAMBERT'S RESTAURANT, THE BASS PRO SHOP AND OF COURSE, ST. ELIZABETH ANN SETON CATHOLIC CHURCH!