The inimitable Barb Nicolosi shoots from the hip and make sense - again:
I said this at an event in Wichita this past summer, and a young woman came up to me cradling a child in her arms and kind of got in my face (with all the "You've clearly been poisoned working in Sodom, I bet you receive Communion in the hand" subtext) and said, "You don't have children, do you?" As though, the having of children would also spawn the conviction that cultural endeavors are exclusively for the damned. (I wanted to say to this young chicken something to the effect that, "Actually, at last count I have about 700," but it occurred to me that the appeal to the notion of spiritual childhood would just be way too Apostolicam Actuositatem for her.)
" . . .we have only two real options for profoundly changing the channels (and literally changing the channels isn't one of them):
1) Create a new missionary imperative to recruit, form, support and commission for Hollywood a whole new generation of well-catechized, loving, merciful, prayerful, self-sacrificing, talented and professionally trained writers, directors, cinematographers, executives, producers, agents, attorneys, managers, publicists, editors, lighting designers, production designers, musicians, animators, and I suppose we must have some actors too.
2) Convert through prayer, sacrifice, patience and intentionality, the writers, directors, cinematographers, etc. who are already here.
Every other initiative to impact culture is ultimately straw.
And it is "straw" because it is not pleasing to God, who wants us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. And He also wants us to tell "all creation" the Good News. He just isn't that wrapped up in us making mediocre, low-budget pep-rally projects for the disciples who are cowering in caves wishing the non-believers would either go away, or at least entertain us without sex, language and violence.
I am struck once again by Barb's passionate take-no-prisoners wisdom and especially by her phrase prayer, sacrifice, patience and intentionality.
Boy does that resonate! Because it takes precisely that: long years of prayer, sacrifice, patience, and intentionality to live one's vocation(s) fruitfully and faithfully. To change the course of Hollywood or to affect the evangelization and formation of the baptized. Talk about a long obedience in the same direction . . .
Take this week for instance. It seems like a fairly quiet week but over time, as you answer a call, you forget what "ordinary" looks like has changed dramatically.
we're meeting with a bishop
We received an intriguing e-mail invitation to be part of an Orthodox-Catholic dialog on the theology and spirituality of the laity
Had a long conversation with our lay Australian director about all the opportunities opening up down under for the Institute
Received an inquiry by a priest doctoral student in Rome whose faculty advisor recommended that he contact us about research possibilities regarding collaboration between the clergy and laity
One of our staff is meeting with a family foundation interested in funding a major state initiative
Gave a talk to the DRE's of a major archdiocese
Writing a presentation to be given next week to graduate students of evangelization at a major seminary and prepping for a half-hour TV interview
Talked to an academic friend about possible funding for that graduate course on the "charismatic" in Catholic thought, history, and pastoral practice that I will be teaching next year at a major graduate school of theology
And it looks like I really will be able to begin work on that long-delayed book in the near future.
yet the week seems quiet. Probably because I haven't had to get on an airplane.
I still think of the Institute as a tiny, obscure, poverty-stricken, ramshackle outfit that is held together with paper clips and duck tape and kept afloat by God's grace and a series of small miracles. And so we are - but we are much bigger tiny-obscure-poverty-stricken-ramshackle-outfit than we used to be.
I joked with Fr. Mike yesterday that I must be the most obscure, very experienced, really, really good Catholic speaker out there. After 10 years of continuous travel and speaking in who knows how many venues, I apparently have no name recognition at all. My friend Mark's name is known everywhere I go. Barb Nicolosi is a personality.
But I'm just warning you, folks. Don't ever try to draw people to an event by using my name. You'll get three who show up and a fourth who dropped by looking for some other event. They will rave when I'm done and tell their friends about this great talk they missed - but I'll be just as obscure when it is all over. It is both mysterious and classically Dominican.
And yet, despite our many liabilities, the level at which we are working has very slowly changed over the years like the tide rising. We haven't noticed it a good deal of the time because we were too busy bailing. Prayer, sacrifice, patience, and intentionality in answering God's call over the years is bearing fruit; the ripples of a thousand small, repeated obediences and sacrifices on the part of hundreds of people have become a major wave but although you have been there for the whole ride, you can't quite reconstruct how you got here.
The only thing you know is that it wasn't you. So real and powerful and mysterious is the work of God's grace in our lives. We can give up everything to cooperate with God's grace but at the end of that long obedience in the same direction, you know that it was all a gift.