The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Little Slice of Heaven

Our parish held its ministry fair today. There are some sixty ministries within our parish, and while not all were represented in the school gym, a good representation of all the service organizations were present. I suppose it's typical with just about any parish in that the 80/20 rule applies. Twenty percent of the parishoners perform the ministries that make the parish function. The rest are, well, still finding their way. While the masses filed into the gym for free coffee and doughnuts, the one's who serve lined the periphery of the space displaying information about their various ministries and encouraged those who casually strolled by to perhaps consider a fuller participation in this body of Christ.

What is really magnificent about getting a critical mass of the twenty percenters is that I believe one gets a glimpse of Heaven. Here you have a room full of people who serve not for money, or pride, or self-advancement; but rather for the very fact that they believe, or perhaps even better, they know. This group of people has come to understand today's Gospel, Mk 9:30-37. We are here not to serve ourselves but to offer our gifts from God to each other.

I suspect Heaven is quite different from what typically get portrayed. People think of a place where all their dreams come true and they receive everything they ever wanted. It is perhaps a materialistic view of Paradise. Yet viewing the givers, the doers of our community; and seeing the joy in their eyes as they talked about their ministries; I belive Heaven is a continuous, joyous giving of self. It must be an eternal exchange between you and the entire body of Christ. Imagine an infinite magnification of the good feeling you have when you give someone a special gift. That is how I see our final destination. It's not a resting place at all. There's work to be done. It is active self donation at its most pure. A total surrender of self to the love God gives to creation. You in essence are a willing conduit for the transmission of that love.

As I looked around the gym at the apostolate of the laity, I knew nearly everyone. So many I had shared the Eucharistic meal with; discussed issues with; worked on causes with; prayed for; asked for their prayers; laughed and cried with. They are my spirtual family incarnate. It is my hope that on the day of my own death, when Christ calls me home, it will be these blessed few that greet me as I pass through the thin veil that separates Heaven and Earth.

There is a real joy in giving. My prayer is that the eighty percenters who don't particiapate in any ministries will one day experience the gift of sharing their own lives in service to Christ and be able to see for themselves just a small sliver of the beauty that awaits them at the end of this earthly journey.


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