laughterThe other day I was at the meat counter in the supermarket and a young black guy with the name tag “Desmond” said “Hello Father!”

He’s wearing a hair and beard net because he’s handling food. He’s bright and is cheerful, upbeat and helpful.

Because he calls me “Father”, I ask, “So are you a Catholic?”

He smile, “No.”

Me: “I can help you with that.”

He laughs and says, “I’m not big on religion. I believe in God and try to do good. I reckon that’s enough.”

“That’s what an awful lot of people think, but do you mind if I give you something to think about?”

“No, I don’t mind.”

“Well, you see, the spiritual life is a long, hard journey, and you wouldn’t want to go on a journey without a map would you?”

“I guess not.”

“The formal religion with all the rules and stuff. That’s like the map for the journey. The journey is the most important, but you need a good map.”

He’s listening. “OK”

“Or think of it this way. You’re playing the game, but you need a rule book and a referee right?”


“Well, the formal religion gives you the rule book and the referee for the game. It’s the game that’s important, but you need the rule book and the ref or you don’t really have much of a game.”

“That’s cool.”

“I need a couple of those sirloins for the grill.”

“I’ll get those for you. Thank you Father.”

So I tell you that story because, it seems to me, that this is one of the most effective ways to evangelize: not preaching hellfire and brimstone all the time (although there is a place for that) but to watch for conversations and openings. You don’t have to have all the answers, but you need to have a bit of courage and a good bit of enthusiasm and joy.

Why joy?

Because real joy is absent in our world. Have you noticed? Continue Reading