In the heart of our small town, we still have what used to be
known as an old-fashioned "five and dime" store. The shelves bulge
with the kind of toys that make kids think: puzzles, construction
sets, art supplies. Just inside the front door, glass display cases
filled with licorice, candy corn and maple nut goodies tempt anyone
who wanders in from the street.
The front bins are reserved for expensive fudge in a dozen
flavors and an assortment of hand-dipped chocolates, all lurking at
a child's eye level. The one modern feature of this store is that
everything now costs a great deal more than a nickel or a dime.
It isn't the toys or the candy that keep us shopping here with
our grandchildren. It is the dose of a reality remembered from
another era. This reality without batteries, blinking lights and
hand-held electronics feels solid and reassuring to us.
The simple toys, a small amount of candy measured into a little
white paper bag; both go a long way toward giving our grandchildren
a taste of our long-ago childhood. We are reminded of a time when
life was seen as a gift meant to be unfolded with heart and hands;
a time when 10 cents' worth of candy meant more than enough to
share with a friend.
On Sunday mornings, we are confronted with a different kind of
search for authenticity as we look out over our current parish
group of RCIA candidates and catechumens. All have come seeking a
deeper reality, one that can be unfolded with heart and hands. Some
are planning to marry a Catholic. Another is here from a Jewish
background and one is a Hindu, already married to a Catholic.
A few are the relatives of a man who came through RCIA a few
years ago. Faith made such a difference in his life that his
relatives have come out of curiosity, hoping to find a taste of the
joy he now carries. One is battling a serious illness. Another is a
young widow seeking something solid as she rebuilds her life.
This is such an assortment of people, all searching for a
reality more authentic than the one they have been living. Our work
is to help their hearts catch the fire of the Holy Spirit.
Programs are good and necessary. Teaching must be sound, but the
fire of the Holy Spirit can only be transmitted person to person,
like the flame from one candle lighting another. The authenticity
others find here must be the reality of Christ in us.
Are we living this deeper reality that will speak to the hidden
needs of those who have come seeking Christ? In our interactions
with them, will they encounter the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love,
joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control?
We invite them to discover the authenticity of Christ that is
often hidden beneath today's blinking lights. It's all here in us,
at eye level. Even the small amounts of grace we carry provide more
than enough to share with a friend.