Hot Dogs and Evangelization

I came out of the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show in Dallas, Texas, recently looking for a quick lunch at the convention center.

I ordered a box lunch and joined two writers on a long bench in the hall near the concession stand. They left just as a concession worker brought my box lunch.

Across the hall, a woman carrying a hot dog and fountain drink looked around for a place to sit. She lighted on a high stool and leaned against the corner wall of the concession stand. She looked so uncomfortable that I invited her to sit on the bench with me.

She smiled and came over. As she sat down, I introduced myself and gave her my card with my website on it.

She looked at my card with great interest. She thought she would be a good writer. She wasn’t there for the conference but worked at the concession stand.

Waving her hot dog toward the trade show, she questioned me about what she called, “this whole Catholic thing.” But she had no use for it. Her life was going great and she didn’t need any religion.

She excitedly related her many adventures in several countries where she got along with everyone. She attributed this to, “I have an abundance of goodness within me,” and thumped her chest to emphasis this point. I told her that Catholics believe that this goodness comes from God and not from ourselves. His Spirit lives within us through the sacraments.

She had everything she needed without God. She vowed that sometimes she could read people’s mind and “make things happen.” I suggested we were better off with the Lord in control. She insisted that she didn’t need that in her life. She didn’t accept that God’s power is infinitely greater than our own. She was doing great because she was born with this abundant goodness within her that just kept growing.

The whole conversation was friendly and she left with my card in her hand declaring, “I want you to edit my book.” With that, she was off to her job behind the concession stand and I to the afternoon seminar.

During the presentations, my thoughts wandered as she flitted in and out of my mind. I kept wondering if I should have pressed harder, said something more eloquent or more convincing.

I looked for her later, but the concession stand had closed. If I had found her, what would I say? I could I tell her that the goodness she found in her heart was a participation in the wisdom and goodness of her Creator, as the Catechism teaches:

Man participates in the wisdom and goodness of the Creator who gives him mastery over his acts and the ability to govern himself with a view to the true and the good. . . The natural law expresses the original moral sense which enables man to discern by reason the good and the evil, the truth and the lie: “The natural law is written and engraved in the soul of each and every man, because it is human reason ordaining him to do good and forbidding him to sin.” (CCC 1954)

Would she accept the truth that her inner goodness was a spark of God’s life? His natural law engraved on her soul to give her the wisdom to do good? Would she see that truth in me and respond to it?

I don’t know if I could say or do anything to lead her to the source of all goodness. I know that nothing happens to us that God can’t use, so I can only leave it to him. If I planted a seed of faith in her heart, he will inspire someone else to water it.

The Holy Spirit can use anything and anyone in her life to nurture that natural law written on her soul. He can guide her innate sense of goodness toward a desire for the One who put it within her. He can instigate her consent to salvation.

After all, as Saint Augustine said, “He who created us without our help will not save us without our consent.”

I didn’t catch her name, so the new entry on our prayer list reads, “The Hot Dog Lady.” Pray for her consent to salvation and her openness to the evangelizers God sends her so that she will know in her heart the source of all goodness and truth.

Copyright © 2012, Nancy Ward

Nancy Ward

Nancy Ward

Nancy HC Ward, author of Sharing Your Catholic Faith Story, was once a shy convert. She has spent decades writing about conversion, Christian community, and the Catholic faith. After earning a journalism degree, she worked for many years for the Texas Catholic (newspaper of the Diocese of Dallas) and the Archbishop Sheen Center for Evangelization, and later began her own editing service. An active member of the Catholic Writers Guild and a regular contributor to a number of high-profile Catholic publications online, she also has a busy blog on spirituality called Joy She’s a contributing author to The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion. Now, through her Sharing Your Catholic Faith Story workshops, retreats, book, and DVD, she shares her conversion story at Catholic parishes and conferences, equipping others to share their own stories.

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