Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Seven years ago I did not know that this poster existed. Today, a friend sent it to me.  I have decided to re-publish what I wrote seven [7] years ago below this gripping image.

The "Numbers Game"
By Paul Dion, STL

We all know the legendary story about Thomas Edison who didn't discover the secret of how to make a working light bulb until after being unsuccessful nearly 1,000 times. When someone asked him how he had the courage to keep going after failing over 900 times, Edison responded, "those weren't failures, they were learning experiences".

We also know the story of the Samaritan Woman who met Jesus at the well. After a short conversation she ran back to the village and brought all her friends and Jesus stayed in the village for three days more.

Going farther back we all know the story of Abraham and his unfailing obedience to God's wishes. God picked the right person. He promised Abraham that he would be the father of God's people, whose progeny would outnumber the stars of the sky. Sarah, Abraham's aging wife, laughed out loud when she heard it. Look around, Sarah!

I am reminding you of these stories because all of us need to be reminded that God knows how to cultivate the seed that He asks us to plant.

We forget that. I forget that, all the time.

I start to do something and I set my goal at 200 participants. I am lucky to get 60, despite my best efforts. One time I set my sights on getting at least 15 participants in a class of 5 sessions spread out over 5 weeks. This is the precursor of the 2006 Mom and Pop Theology event - a highly successful parent Religious Ed program we launched at my parish of St. Christopher in Moreno Valley, CA. - that is now quite well attended.

I had to be blind! The first day, I had 6. I figured, oh well, half isn't all that bad. HHmmm, notice the optimistic math there?

Inside of myself I was thinking that the Lord was testing me for the first day and that the second session next week would bring me twice as many. So I plowed ahead. The next week, things did get better. I had a lot more room to move around in since only two people made it to the room. The good thing was that they had both been to the first session, so I didn't want to disappoint them by cutting off the effort. We went ahead and it was a nice session. It got to be a little informal, but quite effective in its sincerity.

Now I went to have a little talk with my Maker and told Him in no uncertain terms that I didn't appreciate the way I was being treated by Him and His heavenly minions. I told Him that I was doing His work here and that I didn't expect Him to hang me out to dry.

So He didn't.

The next Tuesday the only person who came was the prettiest and the youngest woman of the original six. I had the "Mom" but the "Pop" was nowhere to be found. I invited her in, left the door open, kept myself visible and smiled on the outside while my mind was letting God know that I wasn't totally happy with His pranks. She looked around and actually offered to leave because she felt as though it wasn't fair to take up my time just for herself. I think her guardian angel was slyly giving me an opening to take at shot at God.

I looked at her and simply said, "No, we will stay because both you and I have the same commitment to God for this subject." There, take that, You!

We finished the course. The two of us.

She went home and I went on about my business managing the project for which I was expecting at least two hundred. This was to be the first SONshine Summer Bible Camp for children at the parish. Things were going quite well on the organizational part of the project, but recruitment was slow. Milestones were coming and going, but the number of registered children was not increasing very quickly. I knew that we were not going to get to entertain 200.

As we got closer to the opening date I was still looking for a few volunteers, but three in particular were becoming difficult to find because they needed special talents. I was continuing my "conversation" with the "Man Upstairs" and I think that I was running out of diplomacy because nothing was happening.

So, one morning after the Holy Mass I told my wife, "You had better have a talk to God about the volunteer situation. It's so bad that I'm going over to talk to His Mother, you know, the Weeping One." Now, when it comes to prayer, my wife is an expert. I don't know why, but I think that Jesus is afraid of her.  I don't blame Him.

After I had my talk with Jesus' Mother, I went home to work and wifey went to her office.

You know, I hate to tell you this, but by 11:00 AM spouse called me to tell me that the young lady from my Mom and Pop class was so enthusiastic about volunteering on the SONshine Summer Bible Camp Project I was working on that she didn't leave the office for two hours after hearing about it. As she left she gave us the name of another person whom she was sure would be very happy to volunteer as well. I called the other person and sure enough, there I was two out of three, all set for the time being.

I'm writing this to confess to "You-know-Who" that I'm sorry that I mistreated Him. He sure gave me a big lesson. My "student" told my wife that she couldn't stay home while there was someone working for God who would sacrifice his time for one person. She kept saying that she didn't think that she would ever come to meet a person who loved God that much. My wife said that she nearly choked on that one.

These two ladies that God sent us have been absolutely marvelous. Believe me, I didn't do a thing, God did it all, and He is still doing it. The seeds that these two generous ladies have sown in our parish are still producing sweet fruit. I was just the hick farmer who threw the original seed on the ground. Our parish will never be the same because of these two saintly ladies.

All of you out there who have grandiose dreams of going out and being the next Abraham and creating a new generation of God's people, listen to this: Abraham had two children, one of a slave and one of God. Just ONE of each.

Look at me, just ONE and she brought me ONE.

The project continues to repeat itself, and it continues to grow. Abraham's progeny repeats itself over and over again, and it continues to grow in number and in wisdom. The "Mom and Pop" theology grew out of those first 5 weeks of struggle and now has numbers in the hundreds.

Never call off one of God's projects based on numbers. God knows that His Son and His Spirit flunked math, so He covers for them. Talk to Him, talk to His Mother, tell Him I sent you in my waning years.

He'll support you and you won't have the least temptation to cry at my funeral.
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