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As we picnicked at St. Ignatius

We picnicked under shade trees on the grounds of

the St. Ignatius Mission. We were about a 45 minute drive north of Missoula.

Our friend had not attended "regular church" for years. (By regular church I mean the kind that meets in a church building on Sundays). But later, after goodbyes, Valerie and I both reflected on how spiritually vital she was.

"So how do you stay healthy and growing?" I asked her as we ate our homemade sandwiches. Earlier in the morning she and her husband had marched us through a makeshift buffet line in their kitchen so we can make our own lunches to bring along.

As we ate, a few others strolled the St. Ignatius grounds. The weather could not have been more beautiful under the big Montana sky.

"Well," she answered, "what does it say?: 'He has showed you ... what is good: ... To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

Her husband sat next to her. He is retired and drives a school bus. (And he does attend regular church). He is filled with stories of how he shows the love of Christ to the children on his daily routes. He sat next to her, munching his lunch, and doing a crossword puzzle.

"I feel like I'm having church now," I said.

"Well, there's that other passage: 'Where two or three are gathered together, I am in the midst."

The St. Ignatius church was built in the 1890's by native Americans under the supervision of Catholic missionaries. They fired their own bricks, and there are over one million bricks in the building. The sanctuary windows alone are over 30 feet high. This was in the 1890's, with none of today's construction equipment. And with an "unskilled" work force.

To see the church is to understand -- or to not understand -- what spiritual commitment can produce. How it makes the impossible possible.


Micah 6.8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Matthew 18.20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.

Matthew 17.20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”


Daniel Leslie Peterson June 30, 2009 at 5:23 PM  

I think Church may be so much more--and perhaps so much LESS--than we think. A note at Matthew 16:18 in the New Jerusalem Bible points out the connection between the Hebrew "qahal" and the Greek "ekklesia:" "an assembly called together." Your "congregation" on the grounds of St. Ignatius Mission was indeed Church, if called by her Lord.

Cori June 30, 2009 at 7:41 PM  

I was at the St. Ignatius Mission on Sunday afternoon.

Anonymous June 30, 2009 at 9:23 PM  

Wow! I'm famous. In an anonymous kind of way. Woo Hoo!

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