Today in his Thursday Mass homily, Pope Francis called on each and every one of us to make ourselves a nuisance. To be annoying Catholics!
No, I am not kidding. He was talking about St. Paul:
“Paul is a nuisance: he is a man who, with his preaching, his work, his attitude irritates others, because testifying to Jesus Christ and the proclamation of Jesus Christ makes us uncomfortable, it threatens our comfort zones – even Christian comfort zones, right? It irritates us.”
But our pews today are not full of St. Pauls. They are full of St. “Bland”s who annoy no one:
“There are backseat Christians, right? Those who are well mannered, who do everything well, but are unable to bring people to the Church through proclamation and Apostolic zeal.”
Our Holy Father is praying for something else, something far grander for us:
“So let us ask the Holy Spirit for this grace of Apostolic zeal, let’s be Christians with apostolic zeal. And if we annoy people, blessed be the Lord. Onwards, as the Lord says to Paul, ‘take courage!'”
So how can we as Catholic families, become “nuisances” like St. Paul? I am far from where I need to be, but here are sixteen ideas to get us on the path:
1. Be annoying to your kids and get the smut out of your home. Cancel cable TV or satellite TV or whatever you have. Get all TVs out of bedrooms, leaving only one TV in a family area. Police movie rentals and keep away anything with negative morals. Now go tell everybody at work.
2. Let your faith show in public. Wear prolife tshirts, crucifixes outside your clothes, crucifix rings. Put Catholic bumper stickers on your car. Hang a crucifix in your cubicle.
3. Write letters to the editor defending religious freedom or prolife values.
4. Say grace before meals at restaurants just as loudly as you do at home.
5. If someone is telling you about their divorce, be sensitive to them, but don’t pretend as if it is a good thing. Show sadness and ask if there is anything you can do to help them get back together. (Three times this has resulted in us being asked to help them, and divorces have been averted.)
6. If you have a big family, take it places and let people see the joy that choosing life brings.
7. If someone asks you to donate to a charity that funds abortion, population control or other immoral causes, refuse and tell them why.
8. Learn your faith so that you can share and defend it under any circumstances.
9. Be the person at work who always has something nice to say, always a good deed to do, and never complains about his work.
10. When people ask you how you succeed (at anything) give the credit to God.
11. Make regular use of the sign of the cross, no matter where you are.
12. Say “God bless you” not only when people sneeze but even as a way of saying goodbye.
13. If someone shares a misfortune with you, don’t just say “I’m sorry”. And definitely don’t say “I’ll be thinking off you”. Tell them you will keep them in your prayers. Better yet, tell them you’ll add them to your nightly prayers.
14. Be the person at work around whom people aren’t comfortable using 4-letter-words. Show them you don’t like their dirty jokes.
15. If someone trash-talks the Church, stand up for her. If someone blasphemes the Lord, defend him.
16. Love your spouse, and let everybody know it.
I know, simple stuff, and stuff that won’t make us popular. But if we want to be saints, we have to get started! Because some people will look at all this and go, “Huh? What’s motivating him, anyway?”