St. Francis said, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.” St. Paul said, “…and how can they believe in Christ if they have never heard about Christ? And how can they hear about Christ if they have never heard about Christ?…

Whether by our words or our lives, we are the disciples of Jesus Christ today. Today, we God’s friends who proclaim the good news of the Gospel to all we encounter in our daily living.  I’d like to introduce you to one such friend.

Karen, a beautiful single woman was filled with an unstoppable fire for life that screamed, “Live! Love! Face your fears and soar with God!”

Every Christmas, Karen would send her friends and family a “Christmas brochure.” This trifold of colorful card stock was filled with cheery Christmas graphic art and photos that punctuated a newsy letter of her year.  No one could keep up with Karen’s activities but we could catch-up through her Christmas brochure.

The woman was remarkable.  Her vacations alone were life-altering adventures.

The first “vacation” was a trek through Yellowstone National Park. The next year she hiked through Grand Tetons National Park. Both adventures were warm-ups for the next year, when she climbed Mt. Rainier. The year after that, Karen took on Denali.

I also enjoyed reading about her career journey. A beautiful and talented woman, Karen dabbled in modeling and acting at first, but later returned home to help out in the family business when her help was needed.  Years later, she returned to college, getting an accounting degree and opening her own accounting firm in her hometown. She loved her family and was loyal to her roots.

To me, the most striking entry in her letters were her concluding words. In closing she gave an invitation to seek and believe in God, to accept the baby Jesus as Son of God and Lord of all, and to receive the risen Christ and be born again in the power of God’s Spirit.  Karen did not sugar coat it; she stated the Gospel “straight up” and with love.  Karen had found the joy of new life in Christ and wanted everyone to enter in this joy also.

About three years ago, Karen shared about her diagnosis of cancer. She was optimistic and determined to do everything possible to overcome it.  Her letter ended with her request for our prayers and of course, the invitation to believe in Jesus Christ.

The following year, her letter arrived and in it the announcement that she had been on a new experimental drug and had lost all her beautiful, long, brown hair.  She spoke about her new image, her struggle with it, her decision to get a wig and her final decision to present herself to the world just as she was.  In the letter were two photos: one of Karen with her new wig, and one of the real Karen.  After looking at both pictures, I had to agree with my friend. Karen looked better just as she was.

It was clear to us that if the experimental drug did not work, her prognosis would be a few months at best. Karen once again asked for our prayers, at the same time assuring us that whatever happened, she was at peace.   As always, in conclusion came her invitation to us all.  “…There is a heaven, there is a hell, I am going to be in heaven and I want all of you to join me there.  Don’t wait another day.  You may not have it. Say yes now to Jesus.  Love, Karen.”

Last Christmas, I waited and waited for that wonderful, quirky, inspiring “Christmas brochure” but no letter came from Karen.  I went online and found the obituary.  There was no picture, and very simple words about a woman who loved God, nature, family and friends. Oh yes, and it concluded with an invitation to believe and enter into the amazing grace of God’s family.

We are disciples of Christ. Like Karen, let us speak out, each in our own way, the Gospel which is the good news of Jesus Christ.


Sr. Sharon of Jesus, osc