Around the year 1900, a lecturer, Russell Conwell, made a fortune by touring the country with a speech entitled, “Acres of Diamonds”. The talk, a true story, went like this. A farmer in Africa heard of the fabulous diamonds being discovered in his native country. Quickly selling his farm, the hapless man spent all his energies in searching far-off places for the elusive diamonds, eventually dying penniless and heartbroken.
Meanwhile, back at the farm, the new owner came across strange black “pebbles” in the little stream that meandered through the property. To his delight the “pebbles” turned out to be the largest diamonds yet discovered in Africa. The lecturer told his audiences the lesson to be learned, first look in your own backyard, in your own vicinity, for what you are hoping for: riches, success, or happiness.
Over the years, this true story has influenced my thinking as regards to my work in the Priesthood. In my frequent walks around Midway Airport, my prayer had always been, “Lord, show me ways to make good use of my Priesthood before my time is up.” My path always brought me through the busy concourse of the Airport, a place on cold days to warm up for the last part of my journey home.
The sights of the crowds of people in the place began to make me think. I was rubbing shoulders with people from all over the country, many of whom were Catholic.
I thought to myself, wouldn’t this Midway Airport be an ideal place for an Inter-faith Chapel where a Priest could offer daily Mass for employees and travelers? All would have an opportunity to receive the Eucharistic Christ. This Inter-faith Chapel would mean a place of peace and solitude where weary people could spend time in the Presence of the Lord, since the Holy Eucharist would be reserved in the Tabernacle.
Spiritual guidance, counselling, the Sacrament of Reconciliation were all possibilities for the people of Midway Airport. As the saying goes, “the rest is history”. Our “Acre of Diamonds” was here in our own back yard, and the Chapel has proven to be an ideal place to bring Christ to the marketplace!
Fr. George Mc Kenna
Two pilots, a man and a woman, flew around the world in their light plan without refueling, a first time in aviation history, a dream of six years come true. On the morning of their landing, after flying non-stop for 9 days, their delight and satisfaction shone out through their smiles and laughter.
For the last 72 years, as I have gone to wakes to pray for the dead, I invariably find myself asking the same question. Kneeling next to the coffin, looking at the deceased, I say “How well did this person know Christ? Of how much importance was the Lord to this person in the past?” Now, death has come to take away all future chances of seeking the Lord. In my estimation, the answer to these questions would determine the success and fulfillment of a person’s life.
In a daily searching for Christ, all humans have the best means of satisfying this yearning for adventure. The quest for a knowledge of and a closeness to the Person of the Lord, outshines all other adventures: the climb of Mt. Everest, the sailing around the world in a small sail boat, or the flying of a plane around the globe.
The Lord does not reside in a remote, impenetrable castle. Jesus said, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone opens for Me, I will enter and sup with him.” The exciting adventure of seeking the Lord lies in its life long experience of daily searching for His companionship, not just for a few days or weeks.
While thirsting for adventure, still many people hold back, thinking that this quest will put them in straight jackets, with life becoming a series of “dos” and “don’ts”. Jesus said, Love Me with your whole heart, with your whole soul, with your whole mind and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.” He didn’t say too much about “do’s” and “don’ts”. If one loves Christ totally, then love will show what pattern of life to follow.
Fr. George Mc Kenna