Over 50 years ago, a priest friend of mine, Father Paul Gilmore, gave me the best material gift I have ever received. One of his hobbies was collecting original oil paintings. This one day, he invited me into the attic do four Rectory where he had stored many pieces of art. To my surprise, Father Paul said, “Choose any piece you wish!” After much search, I selected an oil painting of Christ. Through the years, wherever I was stationed, my treasured oil painting always came with me.
The painting, quite large, measuring three feet by three feet, show the Lord from His chest up. From the attractive wood frame, the strong appealing face of Jesus of Nazareth, with large luminous eyes looks out. Tears well up in these eyes, hence the name of the painting, “The Sorrowful Christ.”
This portrayal of the Lord, by an unknown artist, has done more than other created thing to help me realize that the Friendship of Christ should rank before all other persons and things in life. Even today, in my one room living space, I sit and look into those glowing eyes and share ideas and happenings of the day with Him. His eyes follow me wherever I go in the room. When I walk into the room, I find myself instinctively turning towards His Holy Face, a comforting experience.
Frequently, as I gaze upon His Face, I put my way of living up next to the style of Life the Lord showed us in the Gospels. If I see a difference between my ideals and His, I resolve to erase those differences and insert His Way of Living. I don’t want to add to His sorrows by my sins and thereby weaken my friendship with Him. Why are there tears in His eyes? He has given much love and gifts to His people, His friends, to me – and oftentimes He has received back ingratitude, coldness and rejection. To make up for this, I wish to give Him praise, love and thanksgiving.
The late Father Ted Hesburgh of Notre Dame University used to say frequently to the student body, “Keep the faith and pursue the vision.” What vision do we have in life? Do we seek a bigger house, more salary, a larger car? All good things in themselves, however, if these make up our total vision of life, we fall short of the greater and wider vision we could have. Have the vision of seeking a close friendship with Jesus of Nazareth! Make this the pearl of great price that we search for in our days on earth.
Avoid sin! Talk – converse with the Lord. Care for His poor. These are way to closeness with Him. Look often upon His Countenance! Do we have an attractive portrayal of Christ in our homes! They say, one picture is worth a thousand words!
Fr. George Mc Kenna
One St. Valentine’s Day, many, many years ago, in 1933, I walked into my Eight Grade classroom after lunch and discovered a little candy heart on my desk with this simple message written on it in small letters, “I Love You!”
The giver never gave herself away and left me guessing which of the five or six girls left it. This incident involving a candy heart about the size of a thumbnail made a lasing mark on my mind. I was never to forget it.
If one wishes to leave a permanent impression behind, that person could deposit a string of “candy hearts” in the lives of huge numbers of people.
In my case, the kind classmate left an endearing memory in my mind, only to be erased by death. I thought to myself, “Someone cares for me!”
This feeling uplifted my spirits and gave me confidence for the future. Ask ourselves, who has helped us the most, to believe in our own self-worth, who has helped us prepare best for the hard knocks of life? The answer always turns out to be the person who showed us love and respect.
Paul tells us today, “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him.” Share God’s Love with all those you meet. Scatter loving thoughts, words and actions in all directions as we make our way along in life. Perhaps, 84 years from now, someone will be writing about one of the little “candy hearts” you left along the way.
Fr. George Mc Kenna