Have you ever had one of those days at school or work and think “Man, today just needs to be OVER. I literally can’t even anymore. This is NOT the best use of my time, and it’s a detour to what I really want to do.” There was a stretch of time in my life where those days outnumbered the days that went by too quickly.
Recently, I picked up some auxiliary work fulfilling orders in a warehouse on the weekends from 6:00 AM-4:30 PM. From 4:31-4:59, I get in my car, grab something from the nearest fast-food restaurant, then drive (at a reasonable speed) to 5:00 pm Mass, right before helping lead LifeNight at our local LifeTeen program.
I know, eating with less than an hour before Mass isn’t ideal. It’s better than being hangry during Mass, and then going back in line for seconds on Communion because it’s the only thing you’ve eaten in hours. Father, forgive me!
Anyways, enough about my eating habits, more about this “detour” in my journey in the Faith.
Working in a warehouse isn’t the job I want, but it’s good, honest work, and it’s helping me get from Point A to Point B. To say that I don’t always lead in with “the best version of myself,” is an understatement. All I want to do is the monotonous task for 10 hours, clock out and go to Mass. However, the on-site EMT- who we’ll call Ray, since that’s his name – said something that caught my attention.
“So man, like, what do you do?”
Psssssh. What a loaded question. Well right now, I’m on a water break, since Ray always harps on us about staying hydrated. Ray is one of those guys you meet where you think “I can’t put my finger on it, but that’s a good dude. I like him.” Since he asked me on a Sunday, I answered with the first thing that came to my mind.
“Well, I’m really involved in my church. I work in a youth group program on Sunday nights, and teach 2nd grade Faith Formation on Monday nights. Oh, and I have a dog and a girlfriend. So, hanging out with them too I guess.”
After going a couple of rounds and establishing that I go to Holy Family Parish (HFK) in Kirkland, and that it’s a Catholic church, there were a couple of things that Ray said in our conversation that really stood out to me:
“Oh man! That’s awesome! You hustle from here straight to church after every Sunday shift? I should really do the same – I stopped going after they moved me to working Sundays.”
“It’s so nice to find another Believer up here!”
“Woah – you have a Youth Group program? I didn’t even know Catholics even did that.”
What I thought when Ray said that last comment:
“Ummm, word? What do you think it is we do if that wasn’t the case? Just sit in cold pews and consume Catholic Guilt for an hour a week? What kind of comment is that?”
What I actually said:
“Yeah man! I’m a big fan of it. Catholics aren’t the best at marketing what we do – we get it, and we’re working on it! But our 5:00 pm Mass is actually geared towards youth and young adults, since it’s Praise and Worship! I really like what I do.”
Before I went back to working, Ray made it a point to let me know he had read a book once about someone converting to Catholicism, and ended by saying “You know, I wanna check out your church. I’ve never been to a Catholic Church, but you seem all about it.”
10 minutes before my water break, I thought about how much I disdained my job, and how much longer I would have to work here and how I couldn’t get out of here fast enough. After chatting with Ray, I realized that interaction was a huge part of why I was working in that warehouse. It was my opportunity to evangelize and advertise my faith. Funny how a single interaction changes my perception on things.
My mentality changed from “just another worker bee” to “Snap, I’m Catholic – better act like it.”
Ray referred to HFK as “your church.” As corny as it sounds, yeah – it is. But that isn’t 100% the case. It belongs to everyone. I think we sometimes lose sight that catholic means “universal,” and that it’s our job to share the church with everyone. They don’t always stumble into the Parish doors on their own.
It’s really easy to stay within our church communities, have Catholic friends and strain our arms patting ourselves on the back and think “yeah, I’m growing in my Faith.”
Running into Ray reminded me that I’m Catholic, all the time. Not just during LifeTeen, not just on Sundays, and not just when I pray before a meal. I’m always Catholic, and I shouldn’t be afraid to lead in with that and invite others to a relationship with Christ and the Church.
There’s one mantra I’ve been repeating over the last couple of weeks to myself, and I think it really helps me in being the “best version of myself.”
“If I was the only Catholic anyone had ever met, what would they think being Catholic meant?”
Your own answer may surprise you.