A bicycle ride through the city streets of downtown Detroit can provide a suddenly refreshing perspective on life in a religious house of formation. The sidewalks are populated by a thousand different sets of eyes, all with the exact same ultimate vocation resting behind them. “And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled’” (Luke 14:23). A spin along the concrete under towering buildings and past crowded stores can make me realize the joy I have in being so close to the place of true rest. Through its catechism program, the parish extends an invitation to those city streets, inviting His little ones to find shelter in the home of all goodness.
A recent Catholic philosopher has said that the heart of all philosophic and human questioning lies in the question, “Am I loved?” That is, after every question is answered, the human person still lacks what is essential to him if he does not know that God is love. This is the basic news that the children who come to the parish’s catechism program thirst to have echoing in their hearts and minds. Like all the places where SOLT serves, Detroit is a city with many difficulties and one which offers many false idols to its people. For children growing up there, love can become questionable amidst all of the human fallenness. The catechism program boasts 600 students coming from the public schools and many of them from difficult backgrounds, living in largely low-income urban areas. For many of them, the catechism program is the only place where it is clearly proclaimed what the calling of their heart is truly for: love, which is a person, Jesus Christ.
As the brothers and I served in the program this semester, and while not every encounter has flashed with the clear recognition of faith, for each of us there have been more seeds of hope than can be counted. We return from this retreat to our daily rhythm of prayer as a house, and these seeds are prayed into sprouting. It is the beauty of a vocation as a friend of the Bridegroom, to go out to the highways and seek to fill His house, by means hidden as well as visible. This coming spring, I hope to take many more bike rides as the weather warms, energized by stops for espresso and a budding hope to plant new seeds.
Br. Gregory Rice, SOLT