April 5, 2016

Beloved:
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,
who will judge the living and the dead,
and by his appearing and his kingly power:
proclaim the word;
be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient;
convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.
For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine
but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity,
will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth
and will be diverted to myths.
But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances;
put up with hardship;
perform the work of an evangelist;
fulfill your ministry.

2 Timothy 4:1-5

 

Today, because I went to Mass at St. Vincent's, our readings were different in celebration of his feast today, so this was the first reading I heard.  St. Vincent Ferrer was what I like to call a "rock star preacher." His words were so moving that he brought many people, even powerful princes, to repentance. Hundreds of the faithful followed him around Europe. Because of his great faith, he was able to perform great miracles in Jesus's name, even raising people from the dead.

"Proclaim the word"--the command is simple, but it can be one of the most challenging tasks of our lives. On Sunday, I heard a homily that ended with the words, "Remember that if you bring a soul to know Christ, it will be the most important work you have ever done." I was rather taken aback the other night when I was telling a colleague about Frassati and she asked me with total sincerity what it was like to be a person of faith "when no one really is anymore." No one? We in the Frassati Fellowship know dozens and dozens of young Catholics, but to this woman I was a complete anomaly. And I once again came to the stark realization that our faith remains completely invisible to most people unless we engage in conversations that make us vulnerable, unless we have the courage to proclaim the word and to tell our story.

Did St. Vincent Ferrer have less to lose than we do? Did he simply have the good luck of living within a "believing society"? Wasn't it the Middle Ages, when everyone was a holy roller and people didn't really look twice when someone stood up in the town square and started preaching? I think we like to tell ourselves these things, but I can't believe that human nature has changed so drastically that it didn't take some intense effort on St. Vincent's part or that he didn't experience the least bit of discomfort or awkwardness as a result of his decision to become a preacher. His burning love for the Lord is the same that burns in the hearts of men and women here and now, the same that burned within the disciples who saw the Lord face to face. What will we do with this burning love? How will it change us?

Prayer to St. Vincent Ferrer:

Most faithful St. Vincent, you who with so much zeal extended the faith of Jesus Christ, grant, I pray you, that uniting my works to my faith, I may have, like you, a living faith; that till the last moment of my life, I may desire to live and die in the faith which you had, and that, like you, I may be able to say to my Lord: "I believe, O Lord, I believe."

Frassati NY