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Seek the Lord while He may be found!

O Death, Where Is Thy Sting?

Portrait of Thomas Gray
by John Giles Eccardt, Via Wikipedia

An English Poet, Thomas Gray, wrote these words: “The paths of glory lead, but to the grave.”  During this time of year newspapers and television stations will list the names of those famous people who died in the past year.  It’s interesting to read – this year was no different, Mary Tyler Moore, Jim Nabors, Jerry Lewis, Della Reese.  The list goes on.  For a day or so, these persons receive our attention.  Then, they are forgotten; remembered only in their family circle.

We can be certain of two happenings in life . . . Death and Taxes.  How strange that we give so much thought and interest to Taxes.  Rich people must find it especially difficult to die and leave all their riches behind.  We don’t see Brinks trucks in funeral processions.  Be grateful that we don’t have too much money.  Death will be easier for us to accept.

A story tells of a parish reception for the retiring Pastor.  In the Banquet Room, a huge banner had these words, “Best wishes to our Retiring Pastor, Father ‘What’s his Name?’ ” Yes, we priests are quickly forgotten, as are others who live alone with no offspring.

A priest with whom I once lived, very popular in his day, told me that after his retirement from parish life, he thought that he would be called back frequently for funerals and weddings.  In his first year, he received calls for one funeral and one wedding.  Lesson:  Don’t make ourselves too important.  Life goes on well when we are gone.

When I would drive by the many cemeteries in our part of town, I could often hear the voices of the dead crying out: “We today – You tomorrow”.  I would stop and think about my death.  What will I be saying on my own death bed?  Why did I wear out my feet more quickly than my knees?  I wish I had shown more love to the people about me.  Why was I always thinking about life (as if I were to be here on earth forever), when death and eternal life was the big reality to consider?

Act on these thoughts now, while we still have the gift of earthly life.  Live each day with the intent of helping others and being a model of this Jesus of Nazareth whom we love and follow.  Many years ago I made up my Wake Service and my Funeral Mass Programs with the anticipation of the Great Awakening soon to come.  Over the years, it has been a great way to keep me on my toes and on my knees.

Fr. George McKenna

January 27, 2018 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , | 4 Comments

A Powerful Story

Toomore Cemetery, Swinford, Ireland

One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. The she told them to think of the nicest things they could say about each of their classmates and write it down.  It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment.

As the students left the classroom, each one handed in the papers. That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper and listed what everyone else had said about that individual.  On Monday, she gave each student his or her list.

Before long, the entire class was smiling. “Really”, she heard whispered, “I never knew I meant anything to anyone”, and “I didn’t know others liked me so much”, were the most frequent comments.  No one ever mentioned those papers in class again.

The teacher never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn’t matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose.  The students were happy with themselves and each other.  That group of students moved on.

Several years later one of the students was killed in Vietnam and his teacher attended the funeral of that special student. She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before.  He looked so handsome, so mature.  The church was packed with his friends.  The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin.

As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as a pallbearer approached her. “Were you Mark’s math teacher?” he asked.   She nodded.  Then he said, “Mark talked about you a lot.”  At the luncheon, Mark’s mother and father were there, obviously waiting to speak with his teacher.  “We want to show you something”, his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket.

He carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. On the paper were listed all the good things each of Mark’s classmates had wrote about him many years before.  “Thank you so much for doing that”, Mark’s mother said.  “As you can see, Mark treasured it.  They found this on Mark when he was killed.”

A friend of mine emailed me this story many years ago. The lessons are powerful – each of us has good within us – each of us should take the time to tell our friends and family the things that make them special to us, before it’s too late.

Fr. George McKenna

January 20, 2018 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , , | 3 Comments