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The Victory Of The Cross

A Celtic Cross Monument standing tall over a grave in Toomore Cemetery just outside of Swinford, Ireland.

Although I have not written or preached about this particular story, it has greatly affected my life through the years.  During the Vietnam War, a U.S. Marine fighter pilot found himself a prisoner of war in a miserable cell after being shot down by a ground-to-air missile.  As he threw himself on the frozen dirt floor, darkness and despair filled his heart.  As a God-fearing man, he knew that he could not survive the cold, the heat, the poor food and the torture without God’s help.

What could he do to bring God’s Presence into his cell in some visible way?  What would the reader do in this situation?  After some thought,

the pilot took off his military shoe and with the leather hell, he scraped a cross on the cement wall.  Through the months and years ahead, he made this his place of prayer, with his thought usually centered on the Cross of Christ.

“Christ came to show me how to live”, this man of faith kept saying to himself.  “In the Garden of Gethsemane, the Lord accepted His Cup of suffering from the Father when he said, ‘Not my Will but Thine be done.’ ” So each day the American pilot accepted the hardships of prison life and offered his pain-filled hours to the Father in union with the Passion of Christ on the Cross.

A few years later, he left the prison, strong in spirit and deeply in love with life.  We all carry crosses of suffering.  One writer said that no adult human being has perfect health.  This leaves the door open to much pain, discomfort and stresses of all kinds.  What about the struggle to pay bills, to live with heartbreaks and the challenging temptations swirling around us all day long?

Suffering has no value in itself.  Only when we unite our hardships to the sufferings of Christ on the Cross do we profit from life’s misfortunes.   Each year, when we celebrate the joy of Easter, we witness the triumph of the Cross.  From the darkness of the Hill of Calvary, the Lord went to the brightness of Easter morning.

As autumn begins, and the days shorten, and the darkness of winter looms, we can keep the light of Christ in mind.  We can experience a glorious resurrection of spirit in our daily lives.  “Father, I accept my cross of discomfort out of love for You.  Help me to carry my cross with courage and faith.”

Fr. George McKenna

September 23, 2017 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

What One Man Did

Jeff Keith, still living life with a smile.
Photo courtesy from http://www.yourmission.org

32 years ago, in 1985, I was enthralled with the exciting story of Jeff Keith who ran and walked across the United States from coast to coast to the benefit of the Cancer Fund.

With one leg lost to cancer at the tender age of 12, Jeff used his artificial leg and his good leg to complete an almost unbelievable feat of stamina – with a smile. At the time, he brought millions of Americans new hope in their lives as they witnessed his courage attitude towards life. His impact on my life was positive – giving me dreams and hopes for my own future.

I remember seeing a news report on this from the West Coast. Strangers of all ages were coming up to Jeff, hugging him, shaking his hand, thanking him for the example he had given them. Again and again, Jeff stated that without God’s help he could not have persevered. Early each day, while on his journey, he gathered his team and together and holding hands they prayed for God’s support.

Modern day models like Jeff Keith help us to start thinking about the quality of our own lives. With more courage and planning, our days could be so much more fruitful and productive. Deep within us lay reservoirs of power and resources to help us do almost incredible things with our gift of life. However, excuses to give up come easily. After all, we say, “we are only one person; we are only human, not super-human.”

Set definite goals. Think in concrete terms of what we wish to accomplish. Bring the helping Presence of Christ into the work as Jeff and his team did. Motivate ourselves to carry out the needed actions for the one day at hand.

Jeff didn’t stop with his run across the country in 1985. Over the years he has raised millions of dollars for cancer and now runs MISSION, a company dedicated to helping those faced with cancer find ways to be inspired, and live life vibrantly. Think often of Jeff Keith and his winning smile. He was just one man – like each of us.

Fr. George McKenna

September 16, 2017 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , , | 2 Comments