Ed Sri explains how to change the world

Ed Sri makes a point at one of two talks he gave Tuesday, Oct. 19, at Church of the Magdalen in Wichita. He discussed his latest book The Art of Living and several other topics. Video of his presentations are on Church of the Magdalen’s YouTube channel. (Advance photo)

Catholic theologian: evangelize those around you to have an impact

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Ed Sri’s talks are at Church of the Magdalen’s YouTube website here.

Ed Sri talked about living fully alive as missionary disciples Tuesday evening, Oct. 19, at Church of the Magdalen in Wichita.

“This first begins with baptism,” he said picking up a bottle of water, “which I’m trying to exemplify by spilling water all over my shirt!”

Sri, who holds a doctorate from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, is a theologian, author, and popular Catholic speaker.

After brushing away the accidental spill, he talked about a wedding anniversary trip to Krakow, Poland, that he described as a second Rome.

“We were really excited to be able to go walk in the footsteps of one of our favorite heroes of the 20th century, a man who was so courageous, who did so much to fight against the evils of the Nazis and the communists, who did so much to help raise up great leaders around the world that would transform the culture,” he said.

That man is Jan Tyranowski, Sri said. “He was just an ordinary layman like you. He had no training in philosophy, no training in theology. He just loved Jesus and wanted to share Jesus with others.”

The Polish hero lived in a time, not unlike our own, he said. “He was living in a time of great cultural crisis. The Nazis had come in and they were trying to wipe out, systematically, the Catholic culture in Poland.”

Nazis tried to stamp out the faith

In their attempt to do so, Sri said, the Nazis forced thousands of priests and religious into concentration camps and outlawed the formal passing-on of the Catholic faith.

“So what did this ordinary layman do? Did you just sit back and go, I’m not in charge. I’m not the DRE in the parish or the youth minister. I’m not a priest. I can’t do anything. Is that what Jan Tyranowski did? No,” Sri said.

He risked his life by organizing meetings of teenagers and young adults that he called “Living Rosary” groups because he understood that they were vulnerable to the atheistic philosophies promoted by the Nazis.

The groups weren’t designed for fellowship or to enrich each other with the faith. They weren’t self-centered, Sri said emphatically. “These men knew that they were being trained, they were being trained to go out and form Living Rosary groups of their own. They were being formed in their own faith life as disciples of the Lord so that they could go out and reach their peers. Each of those 15 men went out and started living rosary groups of their own with 15 other men.”

It was a vision of missionary discipleship, he said, forming disciples to go out and to be on a mission. Tyranowski, without any formal training, formed disciples so well that 11 of the 15 men in his original Living Rosary group went on to the seminary. One of those 11 was Karol Wojtyła – the future Pope John Paul II.

“Your life might not be the same if it wasn’t for Tyranowski because the world might not have ever known John Paul II if there wasn’t a John Tyranowski to invest in him,” Sri said.

His story reminds all of what an ordinary layperson in a parish can do to change the world, he said. “Do you think you could change the world? God put you here so that you can change the world.”

Every Catholic can change the world, though it may in a small way, he said. “This is the impact that we could have if we’re thinking, intentionally, about how do I share my faith with others to equip them to go out and reach other souls?”

Every baptized Catholic is called to evangelize their families, their neighbors, and the people in their workplace, Sri said.