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I Must Account For Every Careless Word

Isaiah's Lips Anointed with Fire by Benjamin West Via Wikipedia

Isaiah’s Lips Anointed with Fire by Benjamin West Via Wikipedia

Please click on the link below to hear Father McKenna read this message.

Some 78 years ago, as a student at Quigley Seminary, I came to know an elderly man, the bookkeeper in the Seminary Office.  In his mid-80s at the time, this short, white haired man impressed me as a saintly person.  His conscientious work made sure that the financial books balance out to the exact penny at the end of the day.  Quite often, he told me, then a young boy of 16, how afraid he was of the judgment soon to come for himself.  Trying to encourage him with reminders of his dedicated work, I heard him say time and time again:  “We must account for every careless word spoken.” Perhaps his exacting work with numbers made him conscious of this exact accounting of idle, ill-spoken words.

His end came one day with a sudden heart seizure in the Seminary Office.  A Bishop O’Connor, visiting the Seminary at the time, gave this saintly old man the last rites and forgiveness for all the sins of his life.  My friend was speeded on his way to Judgment at the hands of a Bishop.

Why have I remembered this story for close to 80 years?  I think perhaps because of the intensity with which the man spoke those words: “We must account for every careless word.”  In my mind I can still see his eyes shining with fervor; I can still hear the deep feeling expressed in each word.  He appeared then like an Old Testament prophet, with his bushy eyebrows and close cropped hair, telling the people of God’s coming judgment.  I thank God for having known this beautiful person.  His one line homily has stayed with me most of my life.

 Would that I had followed his admonitions these past 78 years.  When did I fail by speaking carelessly?  Oftentimes, I must admit, the old man’s words came back to me.  The tongue, a small part of the body, can do devastating damage in life when used carelessly.  As my judgment time approaches, I too grow terribly serious about the prospects ahead; How much easier now to appreciate the feelings of anxiety of my old bookkeeper friend of my youth.

A good friend of mine had used his tongue wisely.  Through the years I never heard him speak uncharitably about another.  No angry words, hateful expressions, bitter sarcasm, no belittling of others.  When hurt by others, he would make excuses for them.  His tongue has added light to the world.  I envied him.

“Lord Jesus, forgive my carless words.  I will make a new start today!”

                                                                                                                                Fr. George Mc Kenna

June 30, 2013 - Posted by | Bulletins | , , , ,


  1. Dear Fr. George, your words, written & spoken, have taught us soooo much…thank you for all you do for Him, for us, His sheep…we, especially me, are eternally grateful. …with every blog, bulletin, Mass and Sacraments…you lead us closer to the Father…thank you and God Bless you…forever.
    God’s Blessings, Love & Grace, Marianne

    Comment by mcs | July 1, 2013 | Reply

  2. I met Father George McKenna at the Midway Airport Chapel (That he founded) almost 10 years ago. Myself, along with many others call him “A Walking Saint”. Although he isn’t at Midway anymore, I visit him sometimes at Holy Family Residence in Palos Park. I love to pray with him, talk to him, cry to him and sometimes just sit in silence. Fr. George you are truly amazing!… You have helped me more than you will ever know!
    Kimberly Hughes

    Comment by Kimberly Hughes | July 5, 2013 | Reply

  3. […] I Must Account For Every Careless Word (fathermckenna.wordpress.com) […]

    Pingback by Every Careless Word | Focused and Free | July 11, 2013 | Reply

  4. It was such a pleasure to finally meet you Father. Thank you for all of the prayers. These are wise words and good food for thought. I must try to use my tongue kindly.

    Comment by krega | July 26, 2013 | Reply

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