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Bring it with you

The other day I was sitting in an office waiting, as were many of my co-workers, to find out whether or not we were still employed (thankfully all those I know directly still are although a good many were not so lucky) when a co-worker dropped in the office to chat away some of the time.  Being the “horizontal organizer” that I am, I’d spread out my belongings across a good swath of the desk even though I was just borrowing it for the day.  Some day I’ll figure out how to be organized.  Honest.

As we chatted about mostly nothing he happened to notice the ribbon markers in my Liturgy of the Hours and asked if it was a Bible.  Since most people that see a book with ribbon markers think it’s a Bible that didn’t surprise me.  Now mind you, usually I’m the shy type and would respond to the question with a quick mumbled dismissal and then stuff the book in a bag to avoid the rest of the conversation.  This time, for whatever reason, I explained what the book was, how the LotH works and its history.  Come to find out he’s Russian Orthodox so we went looking to find out if the Orthodox have a complement to the LotH (answer: kind of, but not as universal as the LotH is in the Western Church).  During all this we discussed morality, politics vis-a-vis religion, the intersection of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, the differences between the pontificates of Benedict XVI and John Paul II, ecumenism and other topics I’m quite sure I don’t even remember.  And all this time I was quite sure that most of the people I worked with were, at best, disinterested agnostics.  Fine judge of character I turned out to be.

So what’s the moral of the story?  First, don’t assume you know people too well too quickly – it’s usually to your detriment as well as theirs.  Second, there are more of us out there than we sometimes like to think – “us” being those who have a more-than-passing interest in the Christian Faith.  Third, don’t be afraid to live your faith publicly – the people you’re afraid of offending might just be looking for someone to talk to and you might be their only chance.  John Paul II was right when he started his pontificate with the fine words, “be not afraid!”

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