I recently asked a mentor in ministry to recommend a retreat emcee. Rather than replying with the qualifications of her most accomplished colleagues or students, she named two people who could lead the retreat “without getting in the way.” As I recall who broadened and deepened my understanding of the Catholic faith, they are either people without social and educational distinctions, or people committed to the hard, ongoing work of putting their qualifications and education at the service of their baptismal call to live the Gospel. They are people like John the Baptist, free to actively point others not toward themselves but toward Christ. John the Baptist’s preparation for ministry in the desert is particular to his circumstances. Still, his presence to others without getting in the way and service that intentionally invites Christ into his efforts is a model for ministry.
I’m currently competing with myself to see how many days I can go without grocery shopping. I’ve used food that has worked its way to the back of the pantry, previously hidden and overlooked. Reduced trips to my local co-op have helped me take stock of what’s already in my kitchen. Limited grocery shopping is just one of many changes that have dramatically increased the amount of time that I spend in my home. In turn, the challenges and gifts of staying at home have increased my understanding of the reason for the monastic vow of stability.
Editorial Note: This post is a part of our saint devotion series, in which one of our staff or faculty members explores their relationship with a particular saint.
Saint André Bessette was a Congregation of Holy Cross brother with a deep veneration to St. Joseph, whose intercession André attributed to the many physical healings he witnessed. André’s post as door-keeper at Notre Dame College in Montreal, Canada evolved when people began to experience physical healings after meeting with him. Eventually, André saved up $200 from his work as a barber to build a shrine to St. Joseph across the street from Notre Dame College, where he met and prayed with pilgrims seeking healing. While there is little in common between André’s ministry in Quebec and mine for Echo, the McGrath Institute’s two-year graduate service program, I am regularly inspired by André’s presence to the other, and his confidence in directing others to Christ.
Like the majority of Thanksgivings since I moved from the east coast to South Bend for grad school, I will be away from my family. In response to my absence, I will once again call home, be placed on speaker phone and passed around the table while I do my best to hear the person on the line. My initial plea, “No, not speaker phone,” is most often lost in the shuffle.