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Choose Life

Rembrandt’s Moses with the 10 Commandments

Rembrandt’s Moses with
the 10 Commandments

Many years ago, I was walking through the Chicago Loop.  I followed my general habit of looking in the store windows.  Always curious, I enjoy seeing the activity inside the physical appointments of these stops. At one store front, 16 South Clark Street, the print on the window told of a Jewish Synagogue within.

Putting my face to the window and cupping my hands to my eyes to block out the brightness of the afternoon, I scanned the vestibule within.  On a white wall, only ten feet from the window, large writings proclaimed the 10 Commandments of God. The Hebrew words and the English translation for each of the Commandments flowed out across the wall in shiny golden letters of exquisite workmanship.  I felt as if I had come upon the treasures of the Kasbah.  I slowly read the Commandments to myself, dwelling for a few moments on the meaning of each one.

“I am the Lord, Your God, thou shalt not have strange gods before Me. . . Keep holy the Sabbath Day.”

On the cold afternoon, a good feeling filled my being.  I had come upon one of those peak experiences, a meeting with God, in the ordinary streets of the living present.  Sometimes, in the nearby world famous Art Museum on Michigan Avenue, the curators exhibit a priceless jewel underneath a heavy glass cover.  Just as I had admired the beauty of these jewels in times past, so, this day, my eyes studied these words of the Commandments and drank in their timelessness and wisdom.

At no other place in the Loop, could I have seen the Commandments of God so openly and exquisitely displayed.  Within my heart, a fresh determination rose to keep these commands better than ever before.  In a sudden flash of intuition, the pricelessness of these Commandments and the wisdom of keeping them carefully came home to me.

In the Old Testament, God says, referring to the Commandments, “Choose these, and you will choose life.”  My trip downtown had led to much adventure.

Fr. George Mc Kenna

February 23, 2013 Posted by | Bulletins | , , | 1 Comment

The Story Of A Priest

All thecrucifix following happened some 31 years ago.  A priest, a Father Peter, in his mid-60s’ came to live with me in a parish where I was Pastor.  At the end of the year, 1982, Father Peter– always in poor health – died; a sad occasion for me.  Often in times of honest disagreements, he had the happy faculty of saying, “God bless you.”  These words, “God bless you”, immediately threw a new dimension of peace and good will into our discussions and strengthened our friendship.  Try this in disagreements.

On the first day when Father Peter reported to the Parish, he spoke a few words of awesome humility that I will never forget . . . “I can’t do much, but I’m better than no one”. . . This highly educated man, with a superior intelligence, a gift of preaching prophetically, a rich knowledge of scriptures introduced himself with this simple statement, immediately winning my heart.  True humility always captures the hearts of those who come in contact with it.

Without exaggeration, of all the priests in Chicago, Father Peter drove the oldest and most dilapidated automobile in the Archdiocese.  When he started his car in the school yard, the children in the classrooms could only think of the take-off of a rocket ship for the moon.  Indifferent to clothes and personal belongings, he could well have been a modern day Francis of Assisi.  In all his mannerisms, he showed himself a Christ figure.

In May, 1982, Father Peter asked me to drive him to the hospital because of his chest pains.  After some time that day, the doctor, a personal friend of Father Peter’s, came out of the room and said to me . . . “We are going to lose Father Peter.”  I cried without shame.  His life has since influenced me to aim for the best in life.  Humility is so attractive.  May he rest in peace.

In this Holy Season of Lent, 2013, we all have the good fortune to meet another Person of simplicity and humility, a Person with a sublime knowledge of the Scriptures: Jesus of Nazareth.  He hides His Greatness to come in friendship to us, His people, not to judge but to heal and lift us to Goodness.

“God bless you”, He says to each one of us, bringing peace and joy to all.  With no blare of trumpets, the humble Christ stands at the door of our hearts, anxious to enter and enrich our lives.  His humility in willing to come down to our human level, with all His gifts of mind and heart, immediately increases His attractiveness and appeal.

Fr. George Mc Kenna

February 16, 2013 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , , | 4 Comments