Saturday, June 26, 2010
This morning our novice from Poland, Sylwia, informed me that our Polish Sisters' website has a link to this blog. I am honored to be selected by our Polish Sisters. I know how to say "thank you" in Polish, but I can't spell in Polish.
As World Cup soccer fans approach the final matches, excitement grows. I am a "partial US Soccer Team" fan. (By partial I mean my soccer enthusiasm heightens during the world cup and wanes when the World Series begins.) However, I am sorry that Team USA was knocked out of the running today. At least they reached the finals!
I saw that the US played Slovenia, a much smaller country. I had the privilege back in the 1990's of presenting an eight day seminar on parish evangelization to members of two Slovenian parishes in the Cleveland area. I remember that it was a frozen week in February which turned the waves on Lake Erie into mounds of stiff whipped cream. Once inside the classroom where I presented, the atmosphere was warm, friendly and full of enthusiasm. I discovered that the majority of my audience was made up of people who had grown up under Communist rule. Since formal religious education was forbidden, many of them learned their catechism outdoors. They relied on various forms of disguises to learn the Faith. Their parish priests often dressed as farmers while they taught their students, as both the teacher and learners worked back and forth, fences between them.
One of the men experienced the terror of being lined up before a firing squad of Communist soldiers. At the last minute the commanding officer called off the execution. For that man his near death escape meant an ongoing deepening of his prayer life.
The Slovenians whom I taught loved to sing. I had some English hymns woven into my program. One of the Sisters in my community suggested that I ask them to sing their own Slovenian hymns. Allowing them to sing in their own language enabled them to participate more fully and with great gusto. When we asked for volunteers to come door-to-door with us to meet people in their homes, more answered the call then we had dreamed of. Sister Diane, one of our Sisters, followed up the seminar by carrying out a parish visitation program accompanied by an Ursuline Sister who had attended my evangelization course.
The Lord was extra good to us during that course. On the "visitation" Saturday as we went door-to-door, the temperature rose to above freezing. After sub zero weather, it was almost like a Spring day.
I will always remember the Cleveland Slovenian evangelization team. Their faith had become so much a part of them, they were willing to die for it.
It is very enriching to be part of this universal, truly "Catholic" Christan faith. As the World Cup winds down and folks go back to their own homes, may they experience not only a deeper love for their sport, but a deeper appreciation of the love of God that binds us together as one family. Let us pray too for the leaders of the G-20 nations meeting in Toronto. May they focus not only on themselves, put on those nations struggling with famine and grinding poverty.