Calena, Blaise and I attended the PROCLAIM Conference on the weekend of October 23rd-25th in Lafayette, Louisiana.
The PROCLAIM Conference was started by Family Missions Company (FMC). Their website is https://www.familymissionscompany.com
I invite you to allow these thoughts to annoy you. Father Nathan O’Halloran, the presiding priest of the PROCLAIM Conference, said that the Holy Spirit often smells bad to us, but does great good to our souls: like fertilizer spread out to rejuvenate a field. Here are our three most important take-aways from the conference:
1. God is Generous: Am I?
We are a rich nation. We have it all. One great temptation that we are susceptible to is indifference. We need to start giving not out of excess, but to a point that actually impacts our lives. Why go out to eat or fast food five times a week when we could eat simple meals at home? Why have three plasma t.v.’s in our home? Why upgrade our kitchens when they are already getting the job done? Why own two properties? Christians with much are not invited, but responsible for providing for the physical needs of those who are in need.
“We need to start putting our money where God’s heart is.”-Joseph Summers, the Director of FMC
In Sarah Granger’s talk, she told a story about a family in the Philippines who recently became missionaries. They came from a humble upbringing. They were recently struggling to fundraise their own living expenses. They received a check for $3,000 from a benefactor in the U.S., which would give them a good security and peace of mind in starting out their journey as missionaries. Immediately, they gave it all away to a family who was living underneath a destroyed house and literally starving to death. The generosity of these poor Filipino missionaries saved a family! Frugal solidarity teaches us that our second coat is not meant for the closet, but for someone else.
“The Poor are the Most Merciful to the Poor.” -Sarah Granger
2. Frugal Solidarity
Frugal Solidarity can be defined as an awareness and response that the money and goods that I possess are to be used to serve my basic needs and the needs of others, especially those in need – even to the point of withholding some of my needs for those in a more desperate situations. This idea is central to the Gospel message. “He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he has food, let him do likewise.” Luke 3:11
It is easy for us to forget this or dust it off our shoulders. I urge you to listen to the words of Pope Francis on ‘Practical Relativism.’ He is speaking to those who work within the Church, but I think his words apply to all people:
“Pastoral workers can thus fall into a relativism which, whatever their particular style of spirituality or way of thinking, proves even more dangerous than doctrinal relativism. It has to do with the deepest and inmost decisions that shape their way of life. This practical relativism consists in acting as if God did not exist, making decisions as if the poor did not exist, setting goals as if others did not exist, working as if people who have not received the Gospel did not exist. It is striking that even some who clearly have solid doctrinal and spiritual convictions frequently fall into a lifestyle which leads to an attachment to financial security, or to a desire for power or human glory at all cost, rather than giving their lives to others in mission. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of missionary enthusiasm!” (Evangelii Gaudium or Joy of the Gospel, paragraph 80)
3. Four Billion People
Today, this is how many people have not yet heard the message of Jesus on Earth. On top of this, we have many Christians in third world countries who have great spiritual and physical needs.
We need more families, religious, and young adults to become missionaries. We need more people to follow the words of Jesus, who calls us to go out to all the world, to leave our home country, to give up earthly comforts, and to preach the good news to the poor.
St. Francis Xavier, a Jesuit missionary who converted to Jesus while at the University of Paris, said while working in the missions:
“Many, many people hereabouts are not becoming Christians for one reason: there is nobody to make them Christians. Again and again I have thought of going round the universities of Europe, especially Paris, and everywhere crying out like a madman. Riveting the attention of those with more learning than charity: What a tragedy: how many souls are being shut out of heaven and falling into hell, thanks to you! I wish they would work as hard at this as they do at their books, and so settle their account with God for their learning and the talents entrusted to them.” –St. Francis Xavier
May more of us, starting with myself, follow You, Jesus, by giving our lives in service of those closest to Your heart. May we bring joy to Your heart, which is saddened by our indifference to those in need. Please inspire us. Help us to know that as we begin to lose our lives, we see that we are actually beginning to save them. Pour out Your love and Your grace into our hearts.