By Father Christopher Kubat
As some of you may know, I am in residence at North American Martyrs Parish and live in the basement. Father Brian Connor, the pastor, has been gracious and occasionally rolls donuts downstairs to keep me happy.
Earlier this month, after being rudely awakened by the alarm on my cell phone and an invigorating shower to wake me up, I took my breviary and Bible in hand and set off to the church for some adoration before confessions and Mass.North American Martyrs is in the midst of a construction project – a major school addition. Because of this, all of the construction workers park next to the rectory in the school/church parking lot.
While walking through the parking lot, I passed a car with a young man inside who was intently looking at the screen of his smartphone. He was waiting for the workday to begin.
Since his window was open, I thought I would stop and say good morning. He was so engrossed he didn’t realize I was standing beside his car. “Good morning!” I said. Because he jumped and seemed startled, I asked, “Saying some online prayers?” Because of the way he said no and how he shook his head, it made me wonder if he was looking at something inappropriate… of course, he could have been checking Kansas City Royals box scores. It was in the midst of their 10-game losing streak… I have been praying for him ever since. Oh, the value of a good example and planting seeds. Hopefully, he will remember prayer when he turns his phone on.
After our brief encounter, I recalled the story of St. Augustine Zhao Rong. He was a Chinese soldier who sought baptism after witnessing the courage and loving example of a French missionary, Bishop John Gabriel, as he escorted him to his death in the first part of the 19th century. He was martyred because he was a Christian. One can only imagine what words the kind bishop said to this young man. Whatever it was, he soon was baptized and then ordained a priest and himself tortured and put to death because he was a Christian.
After finishing a jog along the bike path by our office recently, I stopped to talk to one of the homeless men under a bridge. We immediately recognized each other as we have been helping him at our new St. Mother Teresa Center. After greeting him, he informed me he was recently hospitalized after being hit by a car. He wanted me to see his feet, which were injured. He was lucky to be able to walk.
After a brief conversation, I asked him if he would like to pray together. After answering in the affirmative, I asked our Heavenly Father to bless and strengthen him. It was after praying together he became animated in a positive manner. As I walked away, he thanked me copiously. I have been praying for him ever since.
May we all plant seeds by our good example and prayer, and never be afraid to pray with others and to share the most precious treasure we have – our Catholic faith with others. May our seeds sprout and germinate to eternal life in the souls of everyone we meet. Saints Augustine Zhao Rong and Bishop John Gabriel, pray for us!