Continuing our daily Advent reflection series on the Feast of St. Francis Xavier, Patron of Missionaries. Natalie reminds us that we are all called to witness our faith through mission. Her reflection today focuses on one person’s mission of consecrating simplicity.


“Have a blessed day, Ma’am!”

It’s a sentence I look forward to hearing every morning as I exit the Brookland Metro Station on my way to work. The words are few and simple, and they are always the same; yet they are never flippant. Each time they are uttered, I know they are meant.

Morning after morning, I am swallowed up by the hustle and bustle of the a.m. commute: flocks of people hurrying up and down the escalators and shuffling on and off of the trains as they surge toward their destinations. Some are immersed in the tunes playing on their Ipods, some are posting the day’s first Facebook status or texting their friends with great dexterity, others are scanning the pages of the Washington Post, and still others are zoned into their emails, careful not to waste an ounce of precious time.

We’re usually too enveloped in our own worlds to look up for more than the few seconds necessary to ensure that we don’t trip upon entry or exit—let alone breach the divide between our world and the world of another.

by Natalie Helfrick

And then, like music to my ears, there it is: “Have a blessed day, Ma’am!”

It always brings me to a screeching internal and external halt. While I’ve never taken one of the newspapers he hands out, I am taken each time by the authenticity of his greeting: the serenity of his voice, the joy in his smile, the twinkle in his eyes as they lock into mine. However brief or frivolous our chats may appear, I am aware of the depth of human connection lying beneath them. He’s a true Light at the end of the tunnel.

This man has such a simple job. Standing in the same spot, day in and day out, making the same gestures and saying the same phrases. And yet the way he gives himself to it—and to each person he encounters—is an ongoing lesson to me.

Oscar Romero once preached: “How beautiful will be the day when all the baptized understand that their work, their job, is a priestly work–that just as I celebrate Mass at this altar, so each carpenter celebrates Mass at his work-bench, and that each metal-worker, each professional, each doctor with the scalpel, the market woman at her stand is performing a priestly office! How many cabdrivers I know are listening to this message there in their cabs… You are a priest at the wheel, my friend, if you work with honesty, consecrating that taxi of yours to God – bearing a message of peace and love to the passengers who ride in your cab.”

My friend at the top of the metro escalator recalls me to my own baptismal summons each morning with the faithful preaching of his Gospel: “Have a blessed day, Ma’am!”

May his devotion kindle mine.

Coming tomorrow: “Proof of Edified Youth” by Chanda Ikachana!

Natalie Helfrick is Program Coordinator for Franciscan Mission Service. A native of California and graduate of the University of Notre Dame’s Echo program with a masters degree in theology, Natalie comes to Washington D.C. having spent a year-and-a-half in Bangkok, Thailand through Heart’s Home, offering the “charism of compassion” as a sign of hope to those experiencing despair and desolation.

Help shine the light! Make a donation to Franciscan Mission Service this Advent.