This past weekend I had the joy of attending a men's retreat in Newark that was put on by the CFR's. The main speaker was John LaBriola (definitely worth Googling). He presented and challenged us a men in a real and great way to be the men of God that we were created to be.
He also presented us with some truths that we often fail to recognize, or choose not to recognize. The idea he presented which stands out to me is the realness of the devil. I've talked about it before in other posts, but somehow I'm always surprised to think about how real and present the devil is. But it makes sense because I'm pretty sure what the devil wants. What helped me to realize the realness of the devil is this idea that John shared that the devil looks to establish a toehold on your life. Slowly that toehold becomes a foothold and before you know it the foothold becomes a stronghold - or a waist hold. Meaning that sin and evil slowly or in a small way enter your life, but if you allow it (sin/evil) to it will consume and take over your life. Another idea he shared is how often our thoughts when not good can be evil and even from the devil. Which really makes sense to me. I know that when I'm confronted with sin and a decision to make so often the thought enters in my mind "its ok, do it, you can go to confession." And confession is great and beautiful but not meant to be used as a service, but really as an experience and tool to help you grow and experience a grace that you do not deserve. And then after I choose to sin I have the thought, "you are such a bad Catholic, how can you do that and now walk into a Church or be in presence of Jesus?" Devil alert, devil alert! Man he's sneaky! He is someone and something we must be aware of, combat, and avoid.
On Monday the FOCUS missionaries at Seton Hall prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in the campus chapel at 3. Once a month we try to invite students to pray with us, we call it "Divine Mercy Monday". Last month we did some active inviting, distributing and posting fliers. This time the approach was much more laid back with word of mouth invites and some passive advertising. I brought our rather large Divine Mercy image to campus. The image usually hangs on our wall and was kindly given to us by a Seton Hall seminarian.
So at 2pm, an hour before we would begin the Chaplet I sat around "the seal" at Seton Hall. In the middle of the campus "green", this is just a large open area on campus that gets a lot of foot traffic. I saw on a bench with the image, some rosaries, and Divine Mercy prayer cards. I decided that if some people stopped I would tell them about what was going on, but wasn't looking to actively engage, just let Jesus do the work.
A few minutes passed and someone from across the seal (15-20 yards or so) took a picture with their phone. So I moved to another bench and left Jesus alone. I then put a sign that said "come pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3pm." I then watched as people walked by and looked at the image. I wondered what they were thinking. For some people it was very clear what they were thinking. Most were just surprised. There were a few double takes, which I couldn't help but laugh at. One of my teammates and I, Eric, got into a few conversations where we were able to give out a few rosaries, talk about the devotion, and how to pray with it!
My favorite response to the image was a young man wearing a straight brimmed hat. I saw him as he approached the image, he was very aware of it, and it really caught his attention. He started at almost the entire time it was in his sight. As he came directly across from it, he looked sort of uncomfortable....like he needed to do something. He never broke stride, but he slightly turned his body toward the image and pulled the brim of his cap as if to acknowledge Jesus. As he pulled the brim I looked and laughed as I read "New Jersey Devils".
Thank you Jesus.