Be prepared! During an eighth-grade confirmation party, a boy timidly asked me to explain the Catholic faith to him — he was not a member of the religion and had been invited to the event by a friend. As I shared a few essential thoughts, I noticed a smile developing on this young man’s face. We spoke for a few minutes — and it seemed to make a difference to him.
Be open! While I was riding the Metro-North train one day between Manhattan and my Westchester County town, a middle-aged woman sat down next to me. I felt the Holy Spirit asking me to engage in a conversation, so I said to her, “Excuse me, but I was curious if you are Catholic or Christian?”
When she looked a little startled and asked me why I’d asked, I responded that as a Catholic priest, I tried to be open to see people as souls who God put in my path.
She responded, “Actually, I do not know if I was baptized, but I certainly was not raised in any organized religion.”
I asked her if she’d ever prayed to God before.
After a moment she responded, “I did consider praying once, but I have never prayed to God.”
For the next 20 minutes, we talked about how much God loved her and how she could connect with Him in daily prayer. Tears welled up in her eyes, and I could clearly see why Christ had asked me to be proactive with this particular soul.
I asked Paul Cronin, a member of the Lumen Institute, an association of business and cultural leaders in New York, to write about this topic, as I know it touches a chord deep in his heart. This is what he shared:
“A few years ago, a customer named Dan — and now a good friend — called to meet me for breakfast at his office. I was thinking this was a business discussion and perhaps an interesting deal to be discussed. But more importantly, he asked me two questions: Was I open to Jesus Christ, and what was my role as a husband and father? The discussion was a life-changer for me — thank you, Dan — and led me to join the Lumen Institute. I still think back to that morning, and recently it came to mind again when thinking about the word ‘open.’ We are open for business. We are open-minded about the opportunities to successfully grow. We are open to new ideas.”
He continued, “Then I was thinking about Pope Francis and the openness that he is bringing to the Catholic world. Maybe it is a change that is challenging in some corners, but it is a desire to be open, to show love, and to be known as followers of Christ — to be Christ-like. I believe most, if not everything, I work with and for — including my teams — know that I am open for business. But do they also know I am a Catholic Christian and know what this means? How would they know? Do I speak about it? Do I act in a way that people might know or understand that it comes from being a faith-filled follower of Christ? Am I open with my faith?”
Cronin added, “I know I can do a better job and find the opportunities to ensure all those I encounter know where my values come from. My faith forms my character, and together they form my leadership. At Easter, when I hear the Gospel again — about the rock having been rolled back — it will not only be another reminder of ‘open,’ but also the start of a renewed spirit and the realization that Jesus suffered, died, and was buried — but rose again for all of us. With that optimism, I will be open with my faith,” he concluded.
Christ wants to share His love and His friendship through all of us.
There are so many lost, confused, and anxious souls out there who yearn for His love and peace, and He often puts these souls directly in our path. Are all of us “open for business”?
Fr. Michael Sliney, LC, is a Catholic priest who is the New York chaplain of the Lumen Institute.