Sunday, February 2, 2014

Starting a Catholic Worker

A few days ago we launched and our site is live! And now welcome to the St. Francis House blog.  

Here we can keep up to date with the latest happenings at St. Francis Catholic Worker.  I mentioned the Madison Catholic Worker with a few people this morning and it was enthusiastically received.   It is a project that is in the thoughts and hearts of many in Madison, I think...  I encourage others to post comments with thoughts and hopes on a Catholic Worker project in Madison. 
I had an experience this week that was a well-timed motivator for encouraging this project along.   I have been a part of the Dane County Jail Ministry team for a few years.  This week five of our team went as usual to the Thursday night jail ministry.  The theme that night was “asking God for what you desire.”   I was not feeling particularly enthusiastic this week.  Sometimes I think the Rolling Stones might have gotten it right, “You can’t always get what you want” though you might get what you need.  But I was evangelized by one of the inmates at the end of our service who came up to me and said that the discussion reminded him of an old gospel hymn, “Jesus is on the Mainline”  Just call him up and if keep at it long enough you can get to God.  That is the point.  We might not get what we want but we will get nearer to God and God is ultimately the only thing that we really desire – God is the fulfillment of our deepest wants.  I went home and learned that hymn – which I discovered has been performed by everybody from the Mississippi Mass Choir to Aerosmith.
But the reason for my sharing this is that I was evangelized by that inmate on Thursday and found hope and encouragement through him.  Working with the poor can be like that.  We don’t offer much but we gain tremendously if the poor can forgive us our better-than-you charitable attitude and if we can open our hearts a little.  It is often the rich who have the biggest barriers because we think we have so much to loose if we let go.  But God is already there with the poor – so if we put up a barrier to poverty – we put up a barrier to God.  Can we lower our barriers even a little?  

I think this Catholic Worker project might be a way to do that.  By living closely with and being connected with those who have less and even more so being one with the poor, by accepting our own poverty, “them” turns into “us” and true charity and communion can begin.   So here’s to hoping for a greater authenticity in our relationships to one another including the least (which is sometimes ourselves).  And also here’s to hoping that St. Francis Catholic Worker might be a vehicle to that greater openness of heart to God in our neighbor.