The power of witness

| Vincenzo Randazzo | December 19, 2016 | 1 Comment

On a Tuesday morning some months ago, I woke up without my alarm. I looked at my clock, and it was exactly 5 a.m. Typically this is like finding a forgotten $5 in my pocket; I have a whole extra hour to sleep! But a new thought entered my mind that morning: “You should go to confession and Mass.”

With that thought, a battle commenced.

“Or, you could go back to sleep — you’re a young single man, enjoy it while it lasts! God doesn’t care if you stay happily asleep; in fact, he prefers it!” The battle continued, evoking a priest I admire, Father Michael Malain: “But Father Malain is also a young man. Not only will he celebrate Mass this morning, he is going to hear confessions before Mass because that’s how he serves. Father works hard, and you should work hard, too.”

That thought inspired me to get up and get moving.

Joyful service

I owe that battle won to the hard-working priests at All Saints in Minneapolis. I began to regularly attend Mass there because it is near my apartment in Northeast, but after a while, my reasons for going there changed. The remarkable service and witness of its pastor, Father Peter Bauknecht, and parochial vicar, Father Malain, both members of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, moved me to work harder at being a Catholic man and not settle for comfort or my selfish ways. Yes, they are priests and expected to live a life of service, but they go above and beyond as they minister to their parishioners. And they do it joyfully, without complaint.

Some may dismiss their attitude as what’s simply expected from priests, but it is a powerful witness to a young man like me.

Before I benefited from this example of service, I think my perspective was one of, “Sure, priests work hard, but don’t we all?” No, I realized, we don’t — at least I certainly did not until I witnessed true service. So I am doing what I can to emulate them.

It’s remarkable: When one serves and serves well, it encourages others to do the same. But how do we as men serve? We are not priests, but we can serve as a model in our home, in prayer, in thankfulness, in humility. We can serve by joyfully carrying the burdens of the day or the troubles of a family member or friend without complaint. I have learned to be more dutiful in my work and diligent in my daily prayers — both of which are forms of service.

I shared these thoughts with a friend of mine who joined All Saints last year; he said the same thing is happening to him in response to witnessing service.
I asked another man, same story; he is inspired because of the priests’ witness in acts of service. The diligence of priests in our lives who persevere in prayer and service to their flock is contagious, and it is causing men to recognize their desire for comfort and trade it in for a desire toward greatness in service.

Randazzo is an evangelization manager in the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and director of development at St. Stephen in Minneapolis.

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Category: Catholic Watchmen