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Warming a Heart, Stirring Faith


Last summer, while addressing the Brazilian bishops at World Youth Day, Pope Francis spoke of the people who have left the Church disappointed. He wondered out loud if for some the Church had appeared “too cold, perhaps too caught up with itself, perhaps a prisoner of its own rigid formulas.” He asked, “Are we still a Church capable of warming hearts?”
 
The answer is: We are! This is how a group of RENEW small communities from Indiana came together to warm hearts and stir faith: “The message of Jesus rang loud and clear as we read the Scripture and discussed the love of Jesus for the poor and the marginalized. As a result of our conversation on the Gospel, our small groups have volunteered and given resources to the food pantry and Mother Teresa’s Treasure. Families have been helped in times of crisis and single mothers have received relief from their burdens. An Hispanic family has been helped with the legalities of becoming citizens of the United States. Fresh tomatoes were donated to the food pantry. One hour after returning from the food pantry, a young woman called the parish office. She was crying. She stated that she had three fresh tomatoes sitting in front of her. She had not tasted a home grown tomato in three years. She proclaimed, ‘I want to be part of any church that would reach out to me with a fresh tomato.’”
 
She ultimately moved to downtown Evansville and entered the RCIA process at a local parish and became a Catholic. How humbling. We protest and plead ignorance on the subject of how to evangelize, and in this case a tomato did it! Each one of us is called to warm hearts and stir faith by simple acts of kindness and works of mercy. The witness of our lives steeped in faith and reflected in acts of love is the only antidote to the sterility of secularism, the numbness of consumerism, and the allure of sin. We will become a church capable of warming hearts only when we open our stony hearts to the Sacred Heart of Christ and allow the fire of his deep abiding love for us to soften and reshape our heart into his own.
 
Sr. Terry is the Executive Director of RENEW International and a Dominican Sister from Blauvelt, NY.

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