I wish you all a Happy Second Mystery of the Holy Rosary. That’s of course Our Lady’s Visitation to her cousin Elizabeth. It is the title for my home parish in Pennsylvania (Our Lady of the Visitation in Shippensburg), where I received Confirmation and countless Holy Communions. The Visitation was Mother Teresa’s favorite mystery, I think: she was fascinated by this “first Eucharistic procession” in history, inspired by Our Lady’s carrying Jesus to her husband immediately after she received Him at the Annunciation (see for yourself, in Luke 1:38 and 39). She didn’t keep Him all for herself. She took Jesus into the streets, and gave Him to another who needed Him.
Taking Jesus into the Streets
What happened last week in San Francisco proved that my parish is capable of doing the same. We kept the Blessed Sacrament on the altar from Friday morning to Saturday morning, and more than enough people kept Jesus company throughout the day and night. One family even came back the next day to do another holy hour from midnight to 1am—had to tell them it’s only once a week! Now we can keep Jesus in the chapel every week for 24 hours.
But something else happened. We had a Corpus Christi procession through the streets; we brought Jesus out to the vast majority of people who would never think of coming inside our church to meet Him. Jesus commanded us to evangelize, but most Catholics would never think to make it their business to publicly witness to Christ. “Go out and teach all peoples….” Jesus told us; what part of “go” do we not understand? Why does Christ impose this obligation on us? Not because he “needs” us to promote his Gospel, but because we need to express our faith. The Christian who does not give it away sees his faith die within him. We need to tell others what God has done for us, or we gradually cease believing it ourselves.
Witnessing in the Streets
There are many ways one witnesses to Christ. One powerful new movement is called “St. Paul Street Evangelization.” Over 200 chapters have formed around the world over the last five years. One of our parishioners gave me the book and told me that we need to at least try this in San Francisco. It’s as simple as gathering a little team of five or six, reading the book, getting some online training, and then setting up a table in a public place for a few hours. We are thinking of the Farmer’s Market a few blocks away. We offer rosaries, medals, pamphlets, and personal witness to anyone who is interested. We don’t confront; we let them come to us, and simply tell them what God has done for us as Catholic Christians. We may get to apologetics if that is needed, but we begin simply by witnessing to the joy of knowing Jesus and His Church. Keep us in your prayers, please.