Path #5: Shared Experience with Jesus
Once your prayer life and sacramental life is in order, you’re ready for the next step to the heart of a missionary: shared experience. After all, solid relationships deepen and grow with two key elements: communication and shared experiences. In our relationship with God, prayer is the communication part. A mission is the shared experience.
Time and again, the most joyful missionaries I encounter, bubbling over with their street stories, tell me, “Steve, I felt Jesus’ presence there with me!” Indeed, while our “His thirst for souls compels us”, and drives all of us missionaries to endure at times very difficult conditions and circumstances, one of the great rewards for the missionaries is feeling the presence of God alongside us. For me, there is nothing more real, more confirming, of God’s presence than when I feel Him alongside me, helping me bring in a lost soul.
I often smile when I meet someone who worked on the mission, perhaps several years ago, and who excitedly blurts out how, years later, the experience is still having a profound influence on their lives. Their memory of some particular encounter with a soul, which might have lasted only a few minutes, but in which they saw the face of Christ, lingers, clear as ever.
Captured below is an excerpt from a short essay from Carlito Sanzo, one of those determined 12 year old missionaries who appear briefly in a story in The Missionary:
"…Another activity I like to do is to help at the New York City missions where we try to help Catholics who have drifted away from the Church. My job is to stand in street corners in the middle of SoHo and ask people who pass by if they are Catholic. After many no’s, there is an occasional yes and this is my time to act. With a big smile I ask them if they would like a rosary, a mass schedule, and then offer them an invitation to go to confession. I did not realize the importance of what I was doing until one man accepted the invitation to confession and with a nervous face entered the church. When he walked out, he looked like a different man. He looked at me and gave me thumbs up.
I knew that this man’s Holy Week would be special. I learned that any small act can make a huge difference in someone’s life."
Carlito Sanzo July, 2015