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Journal: Build My Church

Note: This Journal entry was written on September 30, 2001, as I walked on the Old Tokaido. Take a look at that day's Logbook for more.


One of my favorite saints is Saint Francis. He's so--universal. There are lots of legends around him, but one that has always intrigued me seems to be based in fact.

Soon after his conversion, he had a dream or vision in which Christ told him to "Build my church." Here's what has always fascinated me: Francis took this literally, went out and found a ruined church, gathered a group of followers and rebuilt it.

Here's a guy who's famous as a church reformer, but he did it by first literally re-building a church.

It seems strange until you think about it. "Follow me, I have some great ideas, I'll teach you a lot of cool stuff." No takers. "Follow me, we'll do something with a tangible result." As we say in Japan, "pin-pon!" A winner.

Churches are always more vital when the people have a project to work on. When I was a boy, my church was burned down by an arsonist. In an effort to rebuild, we operated a monthly "restaurant" in our parish hall (which also doubled as a temporary church). I was a busboy. I have never since seen a more vitalized congregation.

So today, when I walked by a garden that had some old stairs and a few statues, and was marked as the site of an old temple, I thought, "There's a building campaign waiting to happen." Imagine the excitement! The activity! If some wandering priest came around and said, "Hey, folks, let's rebuild the temple!" it could radically transform the lives of all involved.

This inward/outward thing is unfathomable. Starting with building a building, Saint Francis revitalized all Christendom.

Posted September 30, 2019

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