Interviewed by Sister Malia Dominica Wong, OP
Hawaii Catholic Herald
There was once a lady who came into our bookstore and told us that our children’s books had helped her family very much. Every night she would read stories on the faith or the saints to her children. Her husband, who was not Catholic would listen along. He commented to her that he really liked the books and was learning a lot from them. As the kids got older, she would get age-appropriate books for them. He finally told her that he wanted to become a Catholic. She attributes this to the reading of the children’s books.
This story in particular illustrates how much good our books really do for people. It’s an actual grace to have a religious book in your hand that God can use to speak to you through and touch your heart with, especially during difficult times of life. At the Pauline Books and Media store where I work in evangelization, I help to spread the Word of God through resources such as these and more. Accompanied with prayer, I find my apostolate very fulfilling.
Sometimes I meet people who have been away from the church. As an evangelizer, I always encourage them to go to confession. I let them know that it does not matter how long they have been away — even if it be 50 years! Just tell that to the priest at the beginning of confession, and he will help you all the rest of the way. The important thing is to be prepared in knowing what you want to say. You can do that by examining your conscience and asking God to help enlighten you. I find it helpful to write down what I want to confess so that I won’t forget anything when I am anxious or nervous.
This is how we can reconcile with God and gain peace. With peace comes the strength to deal with our problems, such as with frustrations at work, etc. Once we have this peace, it is easier to continue along our spiritual journey with God by going back to Mass and receiving Holy Communion. Then, we will have all the strength we need to go through life.
For the past 39 years I have been making holy hours before the Blessed Sacrament. During the holy hour, sometimes I observe 20 minutes each of spiritual reading, examination of conscience and personal prayer. A lot of times however, I might just spend the whole hour reflecting on a passage from Scripture, praying the rosary or the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, or saying other prayers along that line along with just talking to Jesus.
What do I say when I talk to Jesus? I pray for all kinds of things, such as for the people that we meet in our apostolate and all their intentions; the needs of the world and of the church; our country; our congregation; all priests and religious, and more. I find a lot of strength, peace and joy in taking that holy hour. For me, it is a life-giving part of my being the evangelizer I am.
Sister Maria Joseph Petrill is a member of the Daughters of St. Paul. She arrived in Hawaii four years ago and ministers at the Pauline Books and Media on Bishop Street in Honolulu. She is 36 years professed.