By Ryan LeBlanc, E.D. Feehan High School, Saskatoon
In my last post, I talked about a church-going young man who wanted to know how to be a Christian during the other 167 hours in the week when he wasn’t going to church.
In that first instalment, I wrote only one of the answers. Pray. Then, pray, pray, pray.
Maybe you totally loved that answer, great. But maybe, for whatever reason, that answer didn’t find a home in you. So, here’s another.
Recap: If you are wondering how to be a Christian at any time that you are not actively in a Christian church doing “churchy” stuff, here’s what you can do: Serve.
Do something that someone else needs to be done. Serve someone else. Do something kind for them.
Now, some might draw a blank when told to pray, but might totally get what I mean by serve. Others vice versa.
To serve, first become aware of the person that is in front of you. Consider briefly and compassionately what it is like to be them. Anticipate what might be good for them. Do it.
A smile, a greeting, call them by name? Serve it.
Lend a pen, hold a door, share a snack? Serve it.
Be the first to call, or to start a conversation, or to actually listen? Serve it.
I described prayer as the ultimate low-risk effort, but some of us might feel like offering to be kind to someone else – anyone else – is very very risky. That’s how I see it. But I’ve met people who are really nervous to pray but are super keen just to do kindness.
The secret to service is that you see the person in front of you as good and important, no matter who they are. (Spoiler: you are seeing them as God sees them!) And then, because they are good, you do something good for them, and not for you.
I’d say start small and be attentive to what the other person actually wants and needs. That takes humility. You won’t solve big problems and you won’t always be appreciated.
Serve anyway. Serve in any way.
Does this sound less “churchy” than prayer? Don’t you believe it. Jesus said his followers would be recognized by the love that they showed to each other. Not huge difficult things, but small things done with great love.
Try it out and see how it goes. If you’re down with it, you might try setting a goal to perform one intentional act of kindness every day.
Let’s resolve to live this way right now.
Jesus you committed yourself
to serve us and all humanity.
Hear and strengthen our choice
to do kindness to those we meet.
Ryan LeBlanc is the Teacher Chaplain and Catholic Studies Department Head at E.D. Feehan Catholic High School in Saskatoon. He is also discerning the permanent diaconate in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.