What’s in a Name?
Sara: Recently, we discovered we have a woodpecker that enjoys pecking holes in our wood siding. So, after some research, Justin and I loaded up Gus and headed to our local hardware store to purchase a fake owl to hopefully scare away the woodpecker.
After making our selection, we headed to the checkout line. Joseph, our cashier, was very talkative as we made our purchase. As we were loading our purchase back into our cart with Gus, Joseph asked, “What is his name?” Justin answered, “Augustine” as I answered “Gus.” I’ve somewhat gotten used to strangers asking his name on our outings.
Joseph then asked if Augustine was named after St. Augustine. After Justin answered in the affirmative, Joseph began talking about how he’s been praying and reading the work of St. Augustine lately in the Liturgy of the Hours and how Augustine had made the Old Testament and the Mass come alive.
Liturgy of the Hours is the prayer of the church. Every priest prays the liturgy of the hours daily and it consists of morning, mid-day, evening, and night prayer as well as the “office of readings” which is generally a sermon or teaching from one of the saints.
Justin: As Sara and I walked away, it struck us that Joseph had just given us the blueprint to talking about the Gospel which is simply to help others recognize the visible signs of the faith in our daily lives.
He recognized that Gus’s (Augustine’s) name was a sign post (just like a highway sign for “San Francisco” or “Los Angeles”) which points the way to our faith. Indeed, how many sign posts pointing the way to our Lord do we ignore every day!
Sara: In fact, it was this very thought we had in mind when we chose Augustine’s name. We chose it that he might take Augustine, his namesake, as an example to emulate. Our hope is that Gus might grow up with the same conviction for the faith as this great saint. Gus will hopefully learn from St. Augustine that one should never be disillusioned from sin, and that Christ offers forgiveness to all of us!
Justin: So often, we are afraid to speak to others about the faith. Our culture tells us it is a “private” matter, but Christ says to “Go Forth!” If we are to answer this call, we have to learn to talk to others about our faith. There was nothing intimidating, and nothing uncomfortable about the way Joseph spoke to us about the Gospel.
A religious sister once told me that one of the best forms of evangelization was what she called the “SEW” principle. SEW, stands for providing a “subtle evangelical witness.”
The SEW principle is seizing the opportunity to speak about sign posts which are in the daily lives of those we meet. It is responding to their curiosity.
Unfortunately, many times we (or at least I) do not seize these opportunities. A perfect example happened to me this summer at our local bank. I was wearing a t-shirt with a print of Christ on the back, when a lady came to me and asked, “I like your shirt, where did you get it?” Instead of responding, it came from our Catholic Student Center and calling to mind that Christ is the center of our Catholic faith, I said something like, “Oh, I got it back in college.”
Let us take Joseph, who I am sure must be named after St. Joseph, as sign post reminding us to “be not afraid” and leading the way in speaking to others about Christ.