Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Eucharistic Revival Series: Eyewitnesses to the Christian Vocation

When I was in high school back in the 1970s, our Sociology teacher conducted an experiment using a very large group of the student body. The experiment centered around understanding how witnesses to an event perceive things differently.

A senior student would go to the back of the kitchen and change out of his uniform.  After that, he would don a ski mask and then drop a large tray in the kitchen, making a large crash. He would then run out of the kitchen, meeting another student in the Sociology class and overturn her tray. He would run across the cafeteria screaming at the top of his lungs and run into another Sociology student and then run out of the room.

Afterwards, the principal explained to those present that this was an experiment enacted by the Sociology class. Other students handed out a survey to all the students in the cafeteria, asking them about what they experienced. No eyewitness could speak about their experience until they finished the survey.

The Sociology class reviewed the surveys and discovered that only 60% of the students accurately answered the survey according to what took place. This is far below the 79% typically associated with similar case studies. This discrepancy proved to the students that at times eyewitness testimony is not always reliable.

I am reminded of this experience as I continue my series on the Eucharist. In Eucharist: Celebrating its Rhythms in our Lives by Father Paul Bernier, we read, “What we have here is a witness spirituality. The example of Christian love and service that builds the community is the most powerful message that we can give a world starved for meaning. Our life-witness can change the world. This is the Christian vocation. The letter [1 Peter] was written to remind the baptized that we are united in baptism in order to exercise discipleship in the midst of the world.”1

As we are sent out during the closing of the Sacred Liturgy, we are to witness to the truth that we heard about not only in the Liturgy of the Word, but also what happens during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. We are fed and nourished to take the gift of this sacred event out to the world that is absolutely starving for a message of hope, a message of love and a message of faith. We can indeed change the world. But this is done one person at a time in an interconnected relationship that reaches beyond our wildest dreams.

Our witness is not just a “pointing” and declaring what the Church teaches, but is found in action and word within our life. Father Bernier calls it a “Christian vocation” to live as if your feet are planted in this world and your heart is in heaven. This is why we live out our faith through our hands in service and use our words with love.

Some time ago, an adult asked me a question, “Sister, why did you enter religious life and why do you stay?” In answering the second part of that question for him, I “owned” the vocation to serve that is rooted in how I witness to my baptism. I truly don’t believe that the average Catholic even thinks about this. How are we to witness something that we don’t own or haven’t experienced?

So, I am writing this to challenge you to increase the statistic of being a witness. It is my hope that 100% of you witness to what you experience at Mass; Jesus self-gift and love that impels us forth to change the world.

What do you think?

1 Bernier, P. Eucharist: Celebrating its rhythms in our lives. Ave Maria Press. 1993. P. 144.

By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, The Catholic Witness

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