God is Good!

Seek the Lord while He may be found!

Great Expectations 2013


GreatExpectations1337 years ago, in 1976, a short time before Christmas, I was living in the town of Bethel (pop. 3,500), in far away Alaska, close to the Bering Sea.  Bethel had no roads leading out from it, except one to the airport, three miles away.  The only way to visit Bethel was by plane, by way of two jet flights each day from Anchorage, 500 miles away.  Not a single road ran between Bethel and Anchorage.

One windy Saturday night I left our Rectory at the Immaculate Conception Mission to drive to the town’s Community Chapel on the other side of Bethel to offer evening Mass.  The howling, screeching wind made driving our Chevy Van extremely difficult.

Arriving early, I found it nearly impossible to coax any heat out of the oil stove.  Inside, the temperature almost equaled the outside conditions at -10 degrees F and a wind chill of -50 degree F.  I pulled the altar as close as possible to the stove and put on my vestments over my great fur parka.  To anyone present I looked like a warrior from outer space.  That night, my only congregation consisted of a young Eskimo mother and her three little boys, with ages of two, three and four.

With breath coming from my lips in clouds, I prayed the simple, touching words of the Mass . . . “The Lord be with you . . . Lift up your hearts . . . Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God.”  All through the Mass, the youngest child played under the altar at my feet.  At the words of the Consecration, spoken by an ordinary human being, the Lord, The King of Kings, came down on our pour, rough altar.  After my own communion, I offered This Humble King to the little mother, with her face almost hidden in the parka.  At the finish of Mass, without a word, she and her little ones hastened out into the frightful darkness.

Emmanuel – God with us!  How consoling and uplifting to have Jesus, the humble, gracious King of Love, with us.  From His place in Heaven, He heard my words, “This is My Body . . . This is My Blood” and came down to the vast wilderness of Western Alaska to be with me and the Eskimo family.  What faith this little Eskimo mother had to venture out, with her little ones, on a winter’s night, filled with a gale-like wind, to give worship to the Child of Bethlehem.

What message did she receive in her heart that night to bring her to the Holy Child?  The shepherds, on the first Christmas night, heard heavenly voices announcing the Birth of the Savior.  Like these shepherds, the young faith filled Eskimo mother returned home, rich with heavenly gifts.

The moral of the Bethel story above is to treasure the Presence of the Child of Bethlehem in our lives.  This Christmas Day, 2013, we will make every sacrifice to leave our warm homes to offer worship in our Houses of Prayer! – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

A Memorable Mass

After 69 years of celebrating Mass, I look upon this Mass in Bethel, Alaska, as a memory I will always treasure.  Bethel (House of God) sounds like Bethlehem (House of Bread.). . . .  The coldness of the Bethel Chapel, much as it was in the stable of the First Christmas, told me of the hardships the Child, Mary and Joseph went through for my sake. . . .  The rough wooden altar – how similar to the manger where the Child was laid.  The presence of the Eskimo mother helped me understand the coming of the shepherds to the place of Jesus’

Of my messages – this one is my favorite for Christmas.  It is hard to believe that this will be the 3rd year that I will be posting this Christmas message on our Blog!  God is indeed Good!   I hope you don’t mind me sharing it with you again!  Merry Christmas to all!  I will be offering 10 Masses for all those who have sent me greetings!  God Bless!

Fr. George Mc Kenna

December 21, 2013 - Posted by | Bulletins | , , , ,

14 Comments »

  1. I have enjoyed throughout the year all your stories this one was very precious
    Thank you have a very Merry Christmas
    And a Blessed New Year 2014!!

    Comment by jo | December 21, 2013 | Reply

  2. You may have posted it before, Father, but this is my first reading. What a beautiful story! Yes the faith of the Eskimo mother was inspiring, but so is yours to have made that trip. Have a wonderful Christmas and a blessed New Year.

    Comment by Jack Carlson | December 21, 2013 | Reply

  3. Merry Christmas Fr. McKenna and a very blessed New Year! Love reading your “God is Good!” posting.

    ________________________________

    Comment by Kathleen Fitzgerald | December 21, 2013 | Reply

  4. Merry Christmas Father George. Thank you for your wonderful, heartfelt stories. I reread your books often and still find them a great source of comfort and peace. You are a special person to our family. I will never forget your presence at our Dad’s bedside on the day he died. Thank you – hope to see you soon at Pat and Monica’s.

    Comment by kathy graham | December 21, 2013 | Reply

  5. Dear Fr. McKenna, I thought you might enjoy the Christmas blog I did for the Ignatian Volunteer Corp blog, Chicago Footprints. It can be found at ivcusa.org. Look for the Dec 18th entry for IVC Chicago Footprints. Peace and all good things. Rich Pozdol QPS ’59
    http://www.ivcusa.org/chicago_blog/innocence-child/

    Comment by Rich Pozdol | December 21, 2013 | Reply

  6. Fr. I love receiving your messages and I feel they inspire me. I miss seeing you in our office when you came in for your yearly eye exams. I wish you a very Blessed Christmas and I will pray for you. With Warmest Regards, Vivian

    Comment by Viv | December 21, 2013 | Reply

  7. Have enjoyed this story over and over, Fr. George. WE are the blessed ones by having you come into our lives via this blog!! I love your addition to the story for this year – and the descriptions of what your experience was in Alaska vs. the experiences of the Holy Family. You are a master of words and story-telling! Happy 4th week of Advent! Excitement builds as we are drawing near to the birth of our Lord and Savior once again! Thank you for a year of wonderful stories and great advice on how to live our lives every day. Much love and good wishes for you now and forever. Praying for you often! Love you! Love, Nancy

    Comment by nancywest22 | December 21, 2013 | Reply

  8. Dear Father McKenna,
    Thank you for continuing to share so many wonderful and inspiring stories.
    May God continue to Bless you and may you continue to Bless us all through the message you preach.

    Merry Christmas!

    Mike Deering

    Comment by Mike Deering | December 21, 2013 | Reply

  9. Merry Christmas Father McKenna, your stories always have a real life message relating to Christ like acts, your so good at it, I love that you continue to nourish our souls with the food of your words. May God continue to watch over and bless you, his humble servant that has served us so well. Thank you. Deb Hurley

    Comment by Anonymous | December 22, 2013 | Reply

  10. Thank you Fr. George always…for this beautiful Christmas remembrance…cherished by all…and certainly by The Christ Child…you so faithfully share Our Lord with us, His sheep, with the greatest love and devotion…your writing touches heart & soul! Merry Christmas Fr. George!!! Thank you for your life’s finest gift…the gift of your priesthood! Blessings & Love to you forever! Marianne

    Comment by mcs | December 22, 2013 | Reply

  11. Fr. George, We met at the chapel at Midway Airport on a Sunday between my flights in 2010. You signed your book for me. I have cherished that meeting and kept you in my prayers since that day, but I remember you in a special way every time I pray the third Luminous Mystery, the Proclamation of the Kingdom. Your face comes to mind vividly as I meditate on the teaching and preaching. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the richness you add to our lives in your words, deeds, and joyful smiles. One of the exercises our high school sophomore Confirmandi participate in at the end of their three day preparatory retreat asks them to think about the experience and where they “saw” the face of Jesus among all the people there. When I think about Midway Airport that Sunday, I “saw” the face of Jesus in you. Merry Christmas, Debbie Clegg

    Comment by Debbora Clegg | December 23, 2013 | Reply

  12. Dear Fr. McKenna,   Thank you for this Christmas Eve story again. What a warm and wonderful story. I plan to celebrate Christmas Eve again this year with my 95 year old mother, welcoming Christ again on that Holy Night.   Merry Christmas to you and your brother priests.   Jim and Cathy Adamczyk (I was one of your students in first year religion class at Quigley South in the year 1962-63. I was in the Quigley South class of 1966.) 

    Comment by J Adamczyk | December 23, 2013 | Reply

  13. Fr George
    Merry Christmas and Happy New year God Bless

    Comment by Paul Krueger | December 23, 2013 | Reply

  14. Fr. Mc Kenna, Thank You. Your messages are true. Merry Christmas. It is His Spirit we praise and give thanks too. Ray Montano. Peace

    Comment by Anonymous | December 24, 2013 | Reply


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