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The Power Of Encouragement

Jim Haas (left) arranged for Billy Casper(middle) and Clebe McClary (right) to meet  at Augusta National. Picture by Julia Cervantes via Golfweek

Jim Haas (left) arranged for Billy Casper(middle) and Clebe McClary (right) to meet at Augusta National.
Picture by Julia Cervantes via Golfweek

The Latin word, “cor” translates as “heart”.  The French have “Coeur” for heart.  So, the word, “encouragement”, means putting an uplifting word of hope into the heart of another human being.

The other day I heard a good story.  One time, while in Japan, Billy Casper, a top ranked golfer in the 60’s and 70’s visited a US Military hospital, then one of many in Japan.  These hospitals received wounded military personnel, torn in body and spirit, from the ongoing Viet Nam War.

Billy approached a Lt. Patrick Clebe McClary, suffering from losses of left eye and arm.  He heard the man say, “I want to die.”  Casper gave him a warm hug and said, “God wants to use you.  Don’t give up.  God bless you.”  Overnight these words changed McClary’s total outlook on life.  Today, in June, 2014, he has visited all 50 states, giving motivational talks, especially to disabled veterans.  Encouragement can work small miracles.  By the way, McClary has these words on his business card, “I’m a nobody, but I want to tell everybody about Somebody who can save anybody.”

In May, 2014, a friend of many years ago wrote and told me of two words I encouraged her to say.  Rita, a single mother with three small children at the time, felt desperate about life.  The words were “Dio Basta”, meaning in Italian, “God is enough.”  Rita kept this battle cry on her lips for years.  Her children are now outstanding successes!

In the present recession, with its many stresses on family life, its fewer employment chances, its denial of God’s presences in life are making many people say, “I want to give up on life.”  In our own simple ways, we can reach out to these people, our family members, neighbors, coworkers and school mates and give them a hopeful word about life.  St. John Paul II told the Polish people in their desperate years under Nazism and Communism, “Don’t Be Afraid.”  He repeated these words time and time again.  We can tell them of the Battle Cry, “Dio Basta”.  The words could remind them of God’s willingness to save anybody.

A favorite story of mine: On the last day of the school year, a young collegian was walking along with his arms filled with books.  Suddenly they slipped out of his arms and fell to the pavement.  A passerby, another college student, stopped and helped him.  Not a word was spoken.  A few years later they met and the young man with the books told this to the other man, “I was on my way to end it all, but your kindness gave me a new vision of hope for the future.”

Our thoughtfulness, our silent help can oftentimes touch the hearts of despairing people.  Since I played golf for 75 years, I hold Billy Casper in much esteem as a golfer and a man.

Fr. George Mc Kenna

June 28, 2014 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , | 4 Comments

Christ Is Alive. He Lives With Us.

Gary Player in 2008 Via Wikipedia

Gary Player in 2008
Via Wikipedia

Some 30 years ago I was standing in an airport terminal with two priest friends.  One of the priests had his mother along, a woman in her mid-eighties.  Suddenly, a man walked up and greeted us in a warm, friendly way: “Hello Fathers.”  I recognized the man immediately as Gary Player, the world famous professional golfer.  At the time, he, along with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus had been the star headliners in the world of golf for about 25 years.  Today, at the age of 78, he is still active, operates the Player Foundation, and this year will host a series of charity events around the world.

Gary said to us, “You men are doing a grand job of keeping Christ alive in the world, but I’m afraid we are losing the struggle.  In South Africa, we are surrounded by Communist States; no one can worship Christ freely in those countries.  Christ is dying there in the heart of the people.”

He went on to tell us a story a Russian friend had told him.  A teacher in Russia told his students that Christ was dead; He no longer was living.  A young boy in the class stood up and said; “Christ is alive, He is living.”  The teacher told the boy to go home and ask his parents whether Christ was living or dead.  The next day the boy came back and said in class: “My parents said Christ is alive and living with us.”  A short time later, this boy and his parents disappeared from the community and no one ever found out what happened to them.

Gary Player continued by saying, “I talk frequently to groups of young people and tell them of the importance and the necessity of keeping Christ alive in their minds and hearts.  Whenever I travel, I carry my Bible with me and read it every day so that I will keep the words of Christ alive and fresh in my mind.”

This chance meeting with Gary Player greatly impressed me.  He went out of his way to encourage us priests and to share with us his efforts to witness to Christ.  While we were talking, people were pushing forward to obtain his autograph.  Even with this fanfare and his own personal wealth and success, Gary had not forgotten where his true treasure lies.  The bright lights of the world have not blinded him.  His chief interest is the Kingdom of the Lord and its growth in the world.

In the Gospels we read of the Kingdom of Christ being like a precious pearl, something to be treasured and protected.  You and I must struggle to keep Christ and His message alive in our hearts.  Like the boy and his parents in the story above, we have to stand up and give witness to the Lord’s presence among us.  The deplorable, immoral level of modern movies, magazines and public life-styles can destroy our faith in Christ.  Treasure Jesus.  He is our precious jewel.  Keep His Name, “Jesus of Nazareth”, on your lips in prayer.

Fr. George Mc Kenna

June 21, 2014 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments