Pass it On – Raised Catholic episode 40

The following is a transcript from the Raised Catholic podcast. To listen to the podcast, click here.

Today is episode 40: Pass it On

Well, hello friends.  This week, as we waited for a yoga class to begin, some of the older ladies in class were talking all about collagen: the brands they’ve tried, the best way to mix the powder into what they’re drinking, the benefits to their joint pain, skin, nails, and hair, all of the things.  And though I’m not yet dealing with bursitis or some of the other things these ladies are dealing with, I did take mental notes and I asked questions, because someday I might be in the market for collagen powder, and the one they liked best will probably be the first one I’ll try. So why would I take this advice from strangers in a yoga class?  Well, because these kind ladies had actual experience with something that was helpful to living their lives, and they took the time to pass that information on to me.  And they probably wouldn’t have called it by this name, but sitting there on our mats that day, they were acting as my mentors.

When it comes to our faith and faith concepts, the idea that it’s our responsibility to pass it on can feel a little overwhelming.  Maybe we haven’t gotten our faith figured out yet, or maybe we doubt. Maybe we’re shy or busy, and we just don’t think it’s our job to teach others about faith.  Maybe we feel that’s a job reserved for a chosen few.  Well, I hope it’s no surprise to you to know that there’s literally no one who has faith all figured out yet; not your priest, not your grandmother, not that author you like, nor a so-called expert you see in Catholic media.  Literally no one, and that’s why it’s not called ‘knowing’, but it is called ‘faith’. And spreading the Gospel is not just for clerics, it’s literally our job as Christians, but fear not, friend. In today’s episode I hope to make the case that passing on the faith is not as scary and overwhelming a proposition as you might think.  It’s just like what those ladies did for me today in yoga when they gave me the basics on collagen.  It’s experiencing something good and then, telling others about it.

Fr. Richard Rohr writes beautifully about the two halves of life in his book, Falling Upward. The two halves are not separated by a specific age that we can point to, but by a mindset.  Some very young people will make the transition to second-half-of-life thinking and some very old people never will, or maybe they will in their very last days or even moments, by the grace of God. In the first half of life, according to Fr. Rohr, we build our containers.  We create our lives, make our families, systems, and thought processes, and in the second half, we pour out.  And I’ll link to Falling Upward and related content in today’s show notes so you can explore this fascinating and lifegiving idea for yourself, but today it’s the idea of pouring out that I want to focus on.

As you listen to this podcast today, while sitting or walking or doing whatever you’re doing, I wonder who comes to mind when I ask this question. “Who has poured into you?” Whose ideas, stories, or example of faith has illuminated yours on your own path?  Who has introduced you to God? 

At the end of every year, I prayerfully choose a word for the year ahead.  This word makes itself known to me somehow, usually through repetition or inspiration or prayer, and my word for 2021 is ‘mantle’. I wrote a blog piece about this word back in December 2020 which I’ll link to in today’s show notes, but essentially, I felt Mary wrapping me and my dear ones into her mantle of protection and guidance this year, and also, I felt a ‘mantle’ of sorts being passed onto me.  In my faith places and spheres of influence, I felt God calling me to take all of the many faith ingredients and knowledge that had been poured into me in my life from people and the things I’ve seen, read, heard, and experienced, and intentionally find ways to share that good stuff with other people.  This podcast is one way I’m trying to do just that.  But it’s not the only way.

Okay, so at this point, you may be thinking, okay, I do not have any interest in writing or podcasting about faith, and I don’t even know my faith all that well, so you just keep on keeping on with all that.  And oh, I get it, but friend, please remember that together we are a Body, each part of us critically important.  Remember when Paul said in the First Letter to the Corinthians, 

“’Suppose the foot says, “I am not a hand. So I don’t belong to the body.’ By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. And suppose the ear says, “I am not an eye. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body? As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body.

And later, Paul said, “But God has put together all the parts of the body. And he has given more honor to the parts that didn’t have any. In that way, the parts of the body will not take sides. All of them will take care of one another. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part shares in its joy.

You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it.’”

Well, when I prayerfully consider which ‘part’ of the Body of Christ I am, I’d have to say I’m probably a ‘voice’, because I do sing at church, and I am comfortable writing and speaking.  This seems to be how I was made, though there’s not a soul who would have said that about me when I was younger, believe me. But how about you?

Are you an ‘eye’ who sees a need in your sisters and brothers, or sees with clarity a situation that others find a bit foggy?  Are you an ‘ear’ who hears the struggle beneath another’s words when they speak?  Are you a ‘hand’ who partners with people and shows them the way?  A ‘foot’ who walks alongside?  A ‘heart’ who loves, a ‘mind’ who contemplates? An eyebrow, maybe? All of us as members of the Body of Christ are essential, and part of the beautiful plan of God, sharing the Gospel in small and large ways, imperfectly maybe, but with intention, one word or example at a time.  

This week, the FOCUS missionaries on my college campus were giving out free lattes.  Two of them stood on a busy pedestrian walkway, saying hello to the kids, and making the offers, and two of them were inside, making the coffees.  I stopped in after my run and what I saw made my heart so full.  The living room of our Catholic Center, filled with college kids, the way it had been when I was a student there so long ago.  And the missionaries weren’t preaching anything with words. They were just at work in a laid back and friendly way, connecting with the students, making truly delicious lattes, and planting seeds.  They were saying, in the form of espresso, oat milk and vanilla syrup, “This is a place for you. You have value, and you are very welcome here.”

I met a student there in the living room who had been at mass and had seen and liked my music ministry.  We chatted and she expressed interest in singing at church, so I connected her with information and people, and I’ll follow up, to build a bit of relationship and to try to support her if I can. It was a simple exchange, really, but also profound.  I saw a light in Kelly and that day I had the chance to pour into her, to make a way or open a door, even if it was a small one.  Just as others have done for me.  And as I walked home from the chapel, my heart was so full.

Because I was once a student at that school, singing in a music ministry because my friend Peter welcomed me in.  Peter, as you may know, is responsible for the beautiful harp music that you’re listening to right now.  The roots of my ministry took place a long time ago now, almost thirty years ago, which kind of seems impossible because neither Peter nor I ever seem to age, but as I walked home with my latte, I felt my heart swell with the possibility for the future, of the many small ways that we receive mantles and the imperfect but meaningful ways in which we pass them on.  The complicated, generous, overlapping, beautiful plan of God. 

As you consider ways to pass on your faith today, I want to leave you with a benediction of sorts that comes from some more of Paul’s words from First Corinthians, and here they are:

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So, neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”

So, friend, let us pray.  In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, amen. 

God, You have filled us with good things.  Today, show us the ways that we can plant or water faith in the lives of the people around us. Help us to pour out the treasures you’ve given us, even in imperfect and small ways, as we understand our role in Your Body to love and teach Your children well.  God, you give the growth, and we thank you.  In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.

Well, thanks so much for listening today, friend.  If you need me, you can find me on Instagram @kerrycampbellwrites, or on my blog at mylittleepiphanies.com.  I have lots of resources in today’s show notes which I hope you’ll check out, and thanks so much for sharing this podcast with a friend, rating, reviewing, and subscribing.  I appreciate all of that so much, so thanks in advance.  May God bless you and your dear ones this week, friend, and I’ll see you next time.

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