Come and see” is an invitation to our hearts like no other.
Imagine a stranger standing alongside a riverbank and extending this invitation. Would his words resonate in your heart and prompt you to action? Jesus spoke similar life-changing words like nobody else. During the early days of his earthly ministry, Jesus extended this invitation to his disciples. In Mark 1:17 he said to Simon and Andrew: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” We are called through our Baptism to do the same — to be heralds of the glory of God.
Florida resident Chrysteile Murphy chose to act on such an invitation. In her own way, she is doing what Jesus asked each of us to do: to be a disciple. Five years ago she was a wanderer who had murmurings in her heart about God. They never went away.
Our faith journeys can be as unique as we are. This is how Chrysteile’s journey to the Catholic Church began.
Chrysteile’s parents grew up in the early 1960s, free spirits who felt their daughter should make up her own mind about God. In her quest to discover who God was, she explored many different faiths — those within the established churches of today and ancient one that had been practiced for centuries. None of them, however, answered her questions about God. Most left many questions unanswered or added to her confusion.
Chrysteile’s initial exposure to the Catholic faith wasn’t a positive one. An acquaintance had an ill-advised understanding of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the way Catholic Christians should live their lives. His concept of “you can do anything you want to and go to Confession” didn’t sit well with her. She was still filled with many questions — all of which would be answered when she walked through the doors of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Tampa, Fla., a 150-year-old church served by the Franciscans.
Chrysteile had a deep yearning to learn everything she could about God and Jesus Christ. As she began her journey, something about this beautiful church, the welcoming priests and loving parishioners drew her in. What she experienced at the parish was different from anything she’d ever been told about Christianity. Yet she craved more.
Dirty Hair/Clean Soul
One Sunday during Mass, it was announced that the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) would be starting soon. It was with sweet anticipation that Chrysteile came each week to hear the topic of discussion and be enriched by it.
The RCIA process at Sacred Heart was an awakening for Chrysteile. Her fellow candidates and catechumens were taken on a journey of the history of the Catholic Church, its origins and the richness of the sacraments. At the Easter Vigil, Chrysteile experienced the greatest joy in her spiritual life: She was baptized.
Chrysteile can still remember the immense anticipation and, all at once, a great peace. The water was cold, but that didn’t matter. God’s redemptive love flowed over her and she was washed clean of sin.
“When Father George anointed us with the chrism oil, confirmed us and we were all sealed with the Holy Spirit, it was a humbling moment,” Chrysteile recalls. “No words can describe the emotions that assail you during this entire process.”
Chrysteile didn’t wash her hair for four days: The fragrance of the chrism oil was a reminder of this experience, and she held onto it as long as she could. Being a member of the Catholic Church was an important choice for Chrysteile. Her faith in God and Jesus Christ took root and flourished there.
“There is nothing like coming together as ‘one body in Christ’ at Mass on Sunday and to experience the great love that is the Eucharist,” she says.
After the RCIA process, Chrysteile began discerning whether to enter religious life. However, God had other plans for her. Soon after this experience, she met Ryan, her future husband.
‘Come and See’
Like other parishes across the country, there are service activities in Chrysteile’s parish. Currently, Chrysteile is a eucharistic minister, and a member of the Young Adults Group. She also helps lead the “Lost and Found Ministry” for feeding the homeless in the Tampa Bay area.
The priests at her parish always stress the importance of using one’s time and talents for bringing about the kingdom of God. Chrysteile loves to cook, and she has found a very special way to use this gift by helping to feed those who are hungry. Every other Saturday, a group of parishioners come together to prepare a hot meal for more than 150 people.
Through all of this, Chrysteile has found herself and discovered who she really is: a servant who was unexpectedly and extravagantly blessed by God. It started with accepting a simple invitation.
“Everything that God has promised to us is present in the Eucharist: God’s most precious gift,” Chrysteile says. “Coming to the Catholic Church and this glorious faith has been the most humbling, rewarding and life-changing thing you could ever do for yourself.”
Chrysteile believes that, for those who are curious about the faith, if you are willing to open your heart, you will find what she has found in abundance.
Preparation: Assemble on a prayer table: small cards with the Scripture quote from Hebrews 12:1-2 on it, old keys, a Bible opened to Hebrews 12:1-2 and a lighted candle
“Come to Me” by David Haas
Heart of Jesus, let me be your welcoming presence. Give me the wisdom to understand the way to reach out to the disenfranchised and those hungry for faith. Amen.
Scripture: Hebrews 12:1-2
Leader: Who is waiting at the door? Who needs to be welcomed into our church? Whose seat is empty at our table?
Let us pray: Gracious God, help me to unlock the door of rejection, confusion or fear or anything that keeps those I know from entering your presence. Allow me to be your welcoming arms that beckon them in.
You are invited to come forward and take a copy of our Scripture and a key. You hold the key to inviting someone to come to faith. As you come forward, pick up the key and say his or her name. Keep that key in your pocket and pray for the means and grace to welcome your special soul to faith. Recite Hebrews 12:1-2 as often as you need encouragement. (When everyone has returned to their seats, say the blessing.)
May God send us forth to be his welcoming heart, his compassionate ears and his loving arms, and may God bless us in the name …
“Come to Me” by David Haas