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Berkeley

Country: United States
State or province: California

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David Brandt
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Two First Timers Hit Streets

September 16, 2019


It is the now officially the Year of Mercy. Pope Francis wants to draw attention to the powerful depths of mercy that the Lord wants to make available to us. Jesus implored us to be like his father, to that end, we must be involved in works of mercy. The Church has identified two categories of these works- Corporal and Spiritual.

The Corporal Works of Mercy are:

  • Feeing the Hungry
  • Giving Drink to the Thirsty
  • Clothing the Naked
  • Harboring the Harborless,
  • Visiting the Sick
  • Visiting the Prisoners
  • Ransoming Captives
  • Burying the Dead.

The Spiritual Works of Mercy are:

  • Instructing the Ignorant,
  • Counseling the Doubtful
  • Comforting the Sorrowful
  • Redirecting the Sinner
  • Forgiving Injuries
  • Bearing Wrongs Patiently
  • Paying for the Living and the Dead.

Last Saturday November 28th, a team of three worked at the plaza to do works of mercy, two of whom were brand new, Rodney and Ken. It was a very cold morning, but the suffering was worth it.  It was the day after “black Friday”, and we started around 10.  Things were slow initially, but that was OK because it allowed for team member discussions between interactions with the public.  We were physically lined up directly for a while.  Every time someone came from behind me, they already had a Rosary, so obviously Rodney was working the crowd well.  Ken had boldly worked in a very sunny spot, a smart move since most folks out that morning were having to work to stay warm.  He took a coffee break and made it a point of brining another cup for a homeless woman who was sitting on a bunch.  He sat with her to sip coffee and chat.

SPSE Team Photo

Ken is armed and ready.

SPSE Team Photo

Rodney is ready.

I met a man named John who was with his wife.  They were local Catholics who were thrilled to see us out there.  John wanted to give me his contact information so that he could get involved in the ministry.  He also gave me some Bible verses to memorize to help out with situations where a non-Catholic Christian would need to know where our beliefs can be found in the Bible. Here they are- MT 28:16-20, Jn 14L16-17, Jn 14:26 and Jn 16:13.  They have to do with Jesus initiating the Church and assuring the Apostles about the Holy Spirit was empowering them.  He also expressed interest in helping out and gave us his contact information.  Thank you Lord, for sending someone interested in joining the team.

I also met a woman who was an ex-Catholic.  I did not probe as to why, but she did volunteer that she was from Boston are at the time of the scandals.  She did not seem to identify a very personal reason for not being Catholic.  The only thing I could get her to accept was a Catholic radio card, a small but powerful tool.

Gave a Rosary to a young woman who was on her way to work.  In order for me to get her an instruction pamphlet, I would have had to make her wait while I ran back to the table.  I directed her to stop by and ask Ken for the instructions since he was in her path.  He had a brief encounter to assure her that it was a Christ centered prayer.

I met and offered Rosaries to a couple who were Buddhist.  I asked them if they meditate.  They said yes and I told her that was exactly what the Rosary was for.  She said “Ah, so that is what the beads are for.”  As she said this, she held the Rosary and made the motion of moving her finger tips from bead to bead.  “Exactly.” was my response.  The husband said, can I have the money?” pointing to my left hand full of Pope Francis bucks.  He liked it a lot.

Here is Rodney’s account-

A little background on myself – I am a native of the Bay Area and a cradle Catholic. The faith of my mother and late grandmothers made a great impression on me in childhood. I continued to follow my faith, albeit lukewarmly, during my 20’s. However, an epiphany for me occurred in 2005 during St. John Paul II’s funeral. Seeing on television St. Peter’s Square packed with throngs of people gathered from far and wide – simple pilgrims as well as renowned world leaders, paying their respects for this humble servant of Jesus Christ, sparked a renewed pride and resolve to make my small contribution to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

I am now an active parishioner of Sacred Heart, Oakland and of the Cathedral of Christ the Light. My corporal works of mercy include visiting the homebound to distribute Holy Communion and volunteering at the St. Vincent de Paul dining room. In this Year of Mercy decreed by Pope Francis, our Bishop Barber exhorts us to “become merciful like the Father” by putting our faith into practice.

Having completed the diocesan Serra Catechetical Institute for adult formation, I feel St. Paul Street Evangelization could be a worthwhile avenue for me to practice sharing more effectively the truth and beauty of Catholicism.This ministry empowers the participant to be like the sower from Our Lord’s parable – one who scatters the seed and allows the Holy Spirit to take over, come what may. The “seed” in this case is our own personal recollection of how faith has guided our life, and how it can have a similar effect on others regardless of background, culture, and situation. Having somewhat of an introverted personality, the only other similar activity in my life where I was tasked to persuade people was a short stint as a door to door canvasser for home solar electricity. But this we have to offer packs more power than a photovoltaic panel, which is the Light of Christ which illuminates souls.

The Saturday morning that Dave, Ken, and myself was chilly and blustery, which coupled with the previous days’ festivities and holiday shopping was probably a factor in the light foot traffic in the area we sezzzt up. Our primary items of inducement were Rosaries, which made for good icebreakers with parents accompanied by their children as the variety of colors offered presented the young ones with an intriguing decision to make. A majority of the interactions were of the “not interested” category. My encounters of note were:

  • One mother and daughter pleasantly took the prayer beads and explained they were already Catholic as the young child was a student at the School of the Madeleine in Berkeley.SPSE Team Photo
  • Those passersby who were Spanish-speaking appreciated what we were doing and I used my limited Spanish to wish them “Dios te bendiga.”
  • A young lady, not Catholic although her mother was, gladly took a rosary and a pamphlet explaining the prayers.
  • An older woman, non-Catholic, detailed to me her planned trip next year to El Camino in Spain, which is something I am interested in as well, as my baptismal patron is St. James, “Santiago.”  This was the longest conversation I maintained.
  • The non-English speaking Chinese appeared to be bemused, perhaps we need some Chinese-language material to better explain our presence?

With the Advent season just underway I wished all a “Merry Christmas Season” and occasionally threw in a “Jesus is the reason for the season.” During the lulls brother Ken is a good guy to converse with and share some philosophical discussions, and brother Dave is a good team leader whose experience shows; I can learn much from everyone on this team.  I did not utilize the “Pope Bucks” as a lure into discussion, perhaps I can develop an m.o. around this the next time around.  All in all, it was a good experience for my first venture.

Thanks a to Rodney and Ken.

Please pray for the following people we met who had prayer requests:

Adella is a young woman who is going to have to move soon, but does not know where to go yet.  Please pray that her housing situation can get resolved.

A woman named Barbara asked that we pray for all children who are suffering and abused.

A woman named Ann asked that we pray for her husband John Ledin who is suffering from cancer, that he be healed.

A woman named Sue Johnson, a local Parishoner from St. Jeromes asked that she be healed of the macular degeneration in her eyes.

 

Thanks for reading and if you want to add a comment, scroll down to the very bottom of the page where you can add something.  Happy Advent ?