I am taking a break tonight from sharing the "usual" reflective writings in order to share an event with you that occurred this evening. The Divine Author was truly at work composing a story that I could not script myself and one that brings so much joy, laughter, and a smile to my face ( as well as those I shared it with in my state of embarrassment!)
It is a simple and jovial story that presents a profound truth about how the "New Evangelization" is deeply rooted in the almighty power of our Lord and Holy Spirit. It is most effective through our humility, faith, and surrender. Often in seeking to evangelize we miss the ways in which God is truly at work already within us. Tonight was one those nights.
It all began when I became aware that Cardinal Collins would be speaking at a "Theology on Tap" event in Toronto (at The Duke of York). I was made aware of this event rather late and sent an email in haste to the organizers of the event, and was put in contact with a wonderful young lady from "Faith Connections" named Vanessa.
Vanessa sadly informed me that the event was full to capacity and that I would not be able to attend. I assumed it to be God's will, casually resigning myself to potentially complete some marking for my students. Early in the evening I received word again from Vanessa saying that they had cancellations and I would be able to attend. I made my way into the city and was hoping to arrive by the 7pm start time. I was aware that there was already a registered guest list and that I was to simply walk in and look for Vanessa when I arrived. I got to the door of "The Duke of York" and asked where the "talk" was. Had I known there were two different speaking engagements at this point I would have been more specific!
None the less I was guided upstairs to "the talk" , I entered the door greeted by a young lady with a list of names in front of her. I told her my situation, and she said come on in! I walked around alone there were camera's everywhere, specifically that of CBC.
It was now past 7pm and no sign of Cardinal Collins and I also found it quite strange that the room was full of mixed ages when it was supposed to be a 19-39 aged event! You would think at this point that I would realize I was in the wrong place...NOPE!
A man, who appeared to be an organizer of the event then approached me and said "you do not need to walk around by yourself why don't you share a booth with these young ladies." I sat down at this very booth with two ladies in their early twenties. We shook hands and began small talk, well, I actually began to talk and asked them what they did, to which they replied they go to the R.O.M. for some science media communications program. I found it an interesting correlation for them to be attending a talk on New Evangelization, but hey, who am I to judge?
Still, unaware that I was in the wrong place, I began sharing openly about how important sharing "our faith" is and being witnesses in the world. I spoke of my blog, and my interest in chastity speaking/education, and the importance of aiding to clear ignorance that is often presented to us. I talked about the interfaith dialogues in my public school setting, and of my encounters with atheists etc. These two girls did not interrupt me or motion to leave in discomfort. In fact, one of them asked me numerous questions and kept saying "this is very interesting"! I shared about our Blessed Mother and the Saints explaining how mistakenly "we" as Catholics are accused of worshiping "other god's" when it is veneration and not worship! These two young ladies listened intently, I assumed them to be among my Catholic sisters. In fact, I do not even know if they were, or are, or once have been. I told them the importance of prayer as a foundation to any evangelization that we even think of accomplishing. And that it is the Holy Spirit that guides us...
Then a voice came on the microphone interrupting our conversation (or actually, my one sided babble) and the lady welcomed everyone to "the Modern Science..something" talk! I was startled..and found this to be an interesting way of beginning an introduction for our Cardinal! My mouth dropped and I looked at these young ladies across from me and said.."Um is this the Catholic Theology on Tap talk" They looked and me and said "No, but, I believe there is another talk downstairs!"
At this point I was lost for words and apologized to them, explaining that I thought they were there for the same talk! Then again, I quickly realized while running straight down the stairs that I had nothing to apologize for, but rather, rejoice in. God allowed me to share the faith so candidly without intent, without any preparation, or "mission" in mind. He allowed this temporary ignorance so that the faith could be shared with these two young women.
I entered the packed room in the basement of the Duke of York, shared what just happened quietly with Lisa from "Faith Connections" who was standing at the door... briefly trying to explain myself. I then stood and listened to our very own Cardinal Collins with a huge smile on my face for what had just occurred (despite being half an hour late).
As I listened to Cardinal Collins speak about the New Evangelization, I was deeply moved, recognizing that the "New Evangelization" is truly within the hands of our Lord. It was He who equipped the Apostles and it is He who will equip us. May we all remain open in surrender, allowing Him to work, and even surprise us from time to time. This was truly a taste of "Divine Comedy" (C.C.)