Over the Thanksgiving holidays, I found myself in multiple conversations with people who were distressed about the evils of the world today: the lack of faith, poverty, injustice, and pornography, ISIS, abortion, euthanasia, and materialism, to name a few. While all the concerns expressed were valid, I walked away from the discussions feeling depressed and hopeless about the state of affairs.
It’s easy for faithful Catholics, who desire to concentrate on the good, the true, and the beautiful, to be distracted by the abundant grotesque around them, to feel discouraged when it seems as if the darkness consistently overshadows the light. It’s also easy to allow these feelings to dictate our conversations with our friends and family. Instead of focusing on the goodness and making conscious efforts to share the tid-bits of beauty we see in daily life, we fixate on the negative, talk about the evil ad nauseum, and then walk around with a general feeling of uneasiness about the world in which we live.
This is why I want to buy a stack of Randy Hain’s new book, Joyful Witness: How To Be An Extraordinary Catholic, and keep them in my car to hand out the conversation turns to Why The World Is Going To Hell In A Hand Basket. I’ve read most of Hain’s books and this is by far, my favorite. Hain uses the examples of everyday Catholics and highlights their efforts to do extraordinary things for Christ.
The result? A compilation of personal testimonies that proves much goodness exists in the world. The examples of these dedicated men and women show that God’s work is alive and well. Nay, the book proves that God’s work is thriving in the world today.
Some of the people featured are volunteers who offer their time and energy to help improve the world around them. Others have developed full time work from their passion to serve God. But all of these men and women have one thing in common—they have decided to actively do something to affect change. They’ve decided to get off their living room couches and make the world is a better place.
Before I began the book, I wondered if I was going to have anything in common with the people Hain highlights. I am not a business owner. I am not a full time employee or church volunteer. As a stay-at-home wife and homeschooling mother of six children, much of my daily work is hidden. In many ways, the good that I do cannot be seen in the outside world. As I devoured the stories, however, I found I experienced a strong personal connection with each of the men and women Hain interviewed. While we all serve God in different ways—as a priest, health-care provider, church volunteer, FOCUS member, and stay at home moms, our love for God and our desire to live our faith sustains our efforts. There are many parts to Christ’s body, but we are all one and it was exciting to read about the passionate ways others are serving the Church. It was consoling to know that I too am doing my small part to build up the body of Christ. We are all in this together, though are roles are all different.
I was also surprised to discover that I had another thing in common with these men and women: all of them embraced primary vocations as a religious, priest, or married person, but they also serve others with “extra” work. As a writer, I identified with their desire to work in other capacities outside of their primary vocations. While I love my main job as a wife and mother, I also know God has called me to be a joyful witness to His goodness outside of my home. The main way I fulfill this desire is through the columns I write. Like the dedicated apostles in the book who pour their efforts into active ministries, I feel my work is a small but significant way I can tell others about God and His church.
I don’t know about you, but I’m already anticipating the conversations I might have with friends and family over the Christmas holiday and I don’t want to get trapped in any more doomsday discussions. So, I’ve already decided to bring a few extra copies of Randy’s book to slip to those people I love who may need a reminder about all the good that does indeed exists in the world today. I hope they find the busy, ordinary people who are alive and well and making a difference in the name of Christ as inspiring as I did. Who knows? Maybe they’ll be inspired to serve in extraordinary ways, too!
Editor’s Note: Randy Hain’s newest book, Joyful Witness: How to Be an Extraordinary Catholic, is available at Catholic bookstores and on Amazon.