I have been reading Sherry Weddell’s book, Forming Intentional Disciples and one section that caught my attention is called “Living Curiously”:
“The Catholic life is to be a “sign of contradiction” in this world. That doesn’t mean we are to be nay-saying curmudgeons. Rather, it means we are to live lives of such inexplicable joy, love, faith and peace (even in trial) that all the normal categories by which non believers try to classify us won’t work.”
Earlier in the book she uses a quote from Emmanuel Cardinal Suhard from “Priest Among Men”:
“To be a witness does not consist in engaging in propaganda, nor even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery. It means to live in such a way that one’s life would not make sense if God did not exist.”
“Living curiously means more than being ‘nice.’ It means that we think and act in Kingdom-oriented and countercultural ways in our daily lives. For instance, forgiving and asking forgiveness of those who have betrayed and abused us are perhaps the most countercultural things we can do – far more difficult and far more radically wonder-evoking than the moral teachings concerning sexuality that the media assumes are the most difficult aspects of the Catholic faith.”
Now, this caught my attention because I have met people who were living mysteries, people who attracted me for that reason, and then only later did I find our that they were devout Christians. In the cases I am thinking of, these people were not preachy and did not give sermons but neither would they shy away from their beliefs. They were not trying to convert anyone, which is why people were able to trust them. They were not preaching to anyone, which is why people were able to listen to them. It was their behavior, the way they carried themselves, the way they responded to situations, the way they treated others, in short it was their very being that made them mysterious.
Of one friend and colleague, I can remember wondering, “how does he do it?” I was intrigued by him and wanted to learn his secrets. And then I discovered the secret. He was with God. And it was just as Emmanuel Cardinal Suhard put it: once I realized that he was a man of strong faith in Jesus, the mystery became clear and simple. Faith in God was the only explanation that fit. Faith in God made this person make sense to me. This was a profound revelation for me – so much so that at times when I have considered changing jobs, the loss of daily contact with this person has given me serious pause. What could I possibly gain in career or money to offset such a loss?
I don’t know that I would describe this person as “intense” or “passionate.” But full of joy, love, faith, and peace? Definitely.
And so that is the model I use. If I am so full of joy, love, faith and peace that someone wants to know my secret I have no fear in telling them. But if I tell them my secret and I have no joy, love, faith, and peace to show then what value will they place on such a secret?