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A Visit To Omaha Beach

The American military cemetery in Normandy, picture taken in the summer of 2003 by Bjarki Sigursveinsson, via Wikipedia

Twenty years ago, in September, our pilgrim group of three drove 175 miles out of the city of Paris into Normandy country, to visit Omaha Beach, the D-Day invasion site of June 6, 1944. On coming into view of the American Cemetery, my friends stopped and could not speak for a long time.

Words cannot describe the row upon row of white stone crosses, stretching endlessly into the horizon, some 10,000 of them. On D-Day, these men faced withering fire from enemy machine guns placed on the bluff overlooking the shore. All young men, in the prime of their life, but called to duty, with all its dangers, superseded all other matters. The crosses represent only a small number of the members of the Armed Forces killed in the opening days of the greatest military invasion of all time.

This weekend we celebrate Memorial Day, a day to remember all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, and to draw inspiration for life from our military dead. By their example, these fallen heroes remind us of the quality of courage and honor resting in the hearts of each one of us. The dead buried at Omaha Beach, were the young people living down the block from us, just ordinary boys. I was ordained a priest on May 6, 1944, exactly one month before this carnage took place. If I had not been in the Seminary, I could well be lying beneath one of the white crosses.

Instead, God has given me a long life with joys and sorrows found in every human existence. I give thanks for the opportunity to taste life from youth to old age, for the chance to know God better in all the happenings of life. For these men, lying there in the silence and quiet at Omaha Beach, life was just opening up for them like a fresh flower in the spring time. A cruel death cut short their dreams and hopes for the future.

In our mind’s eye, as we contemplate the all the lives of those men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, we would do well to ask ourselves, “What will I do with my life?” God has given us many days to live. We can pass these days in a selfish, complaining manner, preoccupied with the material things in life. On the other hand, we can seize each day as a precious gift and work for God’s Honor and Glory!

Inspired by our fallen heroes, we can purify our minds and hearts of selfish attitudes, know that the greatest victory is the victory over the evil within us. In our innermost hearts, we possess courage not only to rush enemy machine guns, but more importantly to drive out addictions to evil in its many forms.

Seeing the American cemeteries in France in 1997 affected my life deeply. Call it a rich bonus I didn’t foresee from my visit to France. To this day I cannot tolerate a haphazard attitude towards life, allowing carelessness about God’s Honor to take over my days.

Fr. George Mc Kenna

May 29, 2017 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , | 4 Comments

My Father Is The King

Statue of Louis IX, Basilique du Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre.
Photo by Larry Johnson, via Wikipedia

In 1220 A.D. a young prince lived in the Royal court of his father, the reigning Catholic King of France, Louis VIII.  As in all royal courts of that time, corruption and evil made the days of the youngster filled with dangers to his morals.  When the nobles encouraged the lad to give into the evil example of the court, the prince would cry out, “No, No!  I cannot sin.  My father is the King!”

The boy went on to take the title of King Louis IX of France.  So well did he keep his ideas that the Church canonized him St. Louis IX, some thirty years after his death.

One may say, a simple story, but this true take influenced my life for the last 86 years.  At the time of my Confirmation, about the age of twelve, I took the name Louis, because of my admiration for his way of life.  Through the years, I couldn’t forget his story so that when temptations came, I found myself crying out, “No, No!  I cannot sin.  My Father is the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords!”  This battle cry motivated me to hold on to my ideals.

In saying these words, I reminded myself that I was a child of God.  In creating us, God, our Father, put a spark of His own Divine Self into our lives.  We have the high responsibility as sons and daughters of this Great Father, to keep goodness in our hearts.

Many people suffer from the sickness of low self-esteem.  They consider themselves of little value because of ordinary gifts in school work, in sports ability, in physical appearance, or in the social positions in life.  All gifts such as personal beauty, big salaries, popularity, and social success eventually pass away.  Our true worth lies in the fact of our being sons and daughters of the Father, brothers and sisters of Jesus, and of having the Presence of the Holy Spirit within us.  These gifts never leave us.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us, “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.  And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”  What a wonderful promise! With everyone facing temptations to sin, all could draw strength to resist evil from the words of the young prince, “No, No!  I cannot sin!  My Father is the King, the King of Kings, the All-Holy One!”

Fr. George Mc Kenna

May 22, 2017 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , , | 3 Comments