By: Caitlin Bootsma
I drive a little slower whenever I pass the clapboard white church on the hill, sign board out front. As usual, I can’t resist checking what message is posted on the marquis for passersby to see. “Burdens leaving you wrinkled? Come inside for a faith lift.” Okay, it’s a silly pun, but I can’t help but smile. These signs always grab my attention. Sometimes I indulge in wondering whose job it is to pick the slogan for the week. Do they sit with a cup of coffee musing on what inspiration or witty phrase to use? Is there some database full of potential church signs? Their motivation may be to attract new members or maybe just to make people think about faith. Either way, they’ve made my drives a bit more pleasant and even more reflective.
On a heavier note, these signs stand out to me more still in recent years because I notice fewer and fewer overt signs of faith in everyday life. My Facebook feed has been full of acquaintances posting as their profile picture the ubiquitous equal sign (showing their support for homosexual civil marriage) but it is a rare that I notice equally obvious demonstrations of religious faith.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that I want people to be Pharisaical – boasting of their religious practices out of pride.
Rather, I desire that sense of unity in faith that comes through encountering other believers. Occasionally, I’ll see a family say grace together before a meal in a restaurant. I’ve run into a husband and wife saying the rosary walking along the beach. A few weeks ago, my husband and I saw a couple in their early twenties kneeling in front of an outdoor statue of Mary. We paused for a moment, remembering our own reliance on the Blessed Mother.
Too often, these genuine gestures of faith in public life are suppressed. Some of us, perhaps, do not wish to draw attention to ourselves; others may simply forget. But when we talk about the New Evangelization, it can’t just be a topic in a homily or a catch phrase for parish initiatives. We evangelize through our witness to the joy of being Christian.
If I’m thankful for my food, shouldn’t I thank the Lord regardless of whether I eat at home or in a restaurant? If someone asks me what I did this weekend, should I neglect to mention that I went to Mass with my family?
We may not each be called to put signs on the road with witticisms and invitations to Church (though you are welcome to!), but in a society that increasingly devalues religion and the centrality of faith to our lives, we can be those signposts to the fullness of life given by Christ.