I have preached on street corners. I’ve have preached in the middle of UNC-Charlotte with hundreds of students surrounding me. I have preached in pulpits and in Sunday School rooms. I’ve preached in the middle of the woods when no one was around to hear.
Yet so often, the words coming out of my mouth did not reflect what was held deeply in my heart. So often I said things which I knew, or at least felt, rested on shaky foundations. I’ve mentioned before about my experience preaching at UNC-Charlotte. I kept looking at the faces of those people who were confronting me with so many of the same questions I secretly held myself. I kept thinking, They’re going to know I don’t believe what I’m saying. I was sure my own deficiencies were apparent. I probably masked them by preaching louder.
Yet here I am. A year Catholic. Has it been a perfect year? Not by far. I’ve stumbled, and I’ve faltered. I’ve proved my own weaknesses more often than I would have liked. I’ve ran to the sacrament of reconciliation far more times than I would have anticipated. Yet I’ve run. I’ve stumbled, yes, but I have kept moving. And let me say emphatically . . . only by the graces of God. If it were not for the sacraments I would not be here today. The Eucharist has drawn me back when everything in me and around me was saying, Just give up. Reconciliation was there for me as I dejectedly walked into the confessional only to walk out again, feeling fresh and new and alive.
And it’s because of God’s strength, God’s graces in the sacraments, God’s word in the Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition of His Church – it’s because of these things that I truly, for the first time in my life, want to stand upon rooftops and proclaim His great love. I’ve had thoughts of going back to those streets, back to the college campus, back to those same pulpits and Sunday School rooms, only to proclaim that God’s plan for us is found in the graces given to His Church.
I hope a little bit of this desire comes through in my every day life. I’m sure that my weaknesses and the enemy’s efforts will, more often than not, cloud the reality that is this burning fire in my heart.