Hello…long time no blog, I know.
Recently our mens Group in Ashley has matured to the degree that we decided to branch off and start a new group. My pastor has been needling me for some time to get something going at our three parishes which are in the fitful process of merging into one.
So we had an ambitious plan to setup a general meeting for all the men of the parish to come and learn about Catholic Mens’ Fellowship. I was (and am) totally confident that we could get at least three new groups started in these parishes.
Once the plan was in place, things started to go wrong. First off, the parish administration didn’t get the full page poster insert for the bulletin. For either of the two weeks the bulletin ran. We did have an ad in there, thought it was just a short blurb placeholder. Then circumstances conspired against me in getting to the masses and doing some individual reaching out beyond that which I had already done.
The fateful night arrived, and my partner Jeff called up to confirm that we were meeting. He jokingly said, “I’ll bet it will just be you and me.” Ha ha. I set up early, with 80 sets of handouts I copied. The clock started getting closer to 7 pm, the start of the meeting. I started to think of what Jeff said, and our ‘masterful’ marketing campaign . I thought, “Well Jesus, if you want this to succeed you need to bring the men out tonite. I’ve done as good a job as I can for my part.”
5 minutes later no one was there yet. I thought of Abraham bargaining with the lord over the fate of Sodom, and how many good people would he spare the city for. I started to bargain with the Holy Spirit saying “Well there are 1500 families in these parishes, 80 men would be just fine. That way My fliers will get used up.” A minute or two later I thought, “Well 25 men would make a good enough audience that the speech I’m prepared to deliver won’t seem awkward…. You know, 12 nice Jewish boys changed the face of the Roman Empire, send me 12 from these parishes… Hmm, a group will be pretty stable and successful with 6 men….. wherever 2 or three are gathered…. Lord. If you want this to work, I can do it with one man.”
And right on cue, I heard the door open, and an elderly gentleman all bundled up for the cold, shuffled in. We greeted eachother warmly, and then he looked at my handouts and said, “What’s this? You mean this ISN’T the parish historical society meeting?” I said he was welcome to stay, but… out the door he went again.
At 7 My buddy Jeff arrived, looked around and laughed. I told him that he may not have the charismatic gift of tongues, but he sure had the gift of prophecy.
And then….. one new man arrived. Followed by the pastor and a ‘ringer’ from the Freeland group (visit www.catholicundergroundpa.com ). And from there we laid the groundwork for how we will proceed.
In discussing it afterwards, Jeff said it was one of the best meetings he has been to in a while. He got to meet the pastor, who was really dedicated to making this a success, and we talked about how our plans for growing the CMF weren’t ncessarily God’s plans. We had this idea that we could take the easy way out and reach lots of men at once through mass communication, and not really have to put ourselves out on the line risking embarrassment by walking up to men we didn’t know so well and pitching the idea. When St. Paul preached in the Areopagus most everyone laughed, but a handful spoke with him later one on one and were converted. Maybe the holy spirit wants us to be better and fearless witnesses in one on one relationships. After all, aren;t the small group sharing sessions about one on one relatioships. Jeff was so on fire that he went out that very night to a plumbing job where spoke about faith with his 23 year old male customer who was having a rough patch in his life and with his neighbors. They prayed about a few things there on his front porch, and this protestant non-churchgoing kid admitted that maybe God broke his furnace so that he could meet Jeff. He now wants to come to our next meeting next wednesday night… and now there are two.
And if I cannot conquer myself, Lord, then You conquer me.