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The Listener

Christ on the Mount of Olives
Ernst Hildebrand, via Wikipedia

In my Major Seminary days, (1938-1944), at Mundelein, Illinois, from the ages of 18-24, I found myself in my room at 7:15pm every evening of the school year. The rules forbade newspapers, magazines, radios and visiting other rooms.  Each room had its own bathroom facilities, so I had no excuse to leave it.  At breakfast the next morning, we broke silence.  Lights out at 9:45pm, after prayers in our house Chapel.

The darkness and the silence of the night had their fill of hobgoblins and demons of discouragement and puzzlement about this Seminary life. Doctors had told me that my health would keep me from the Priesthood.  In my first days there, I put a small image of the Sacred Heart on my desk.  For the next six years, this image of Christ would come with me from room to room on the Seminary campus.  On its back I wrote, “I place all my trust in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, now when I need His Help more than ever before.”

Every night I looked at the kind Face of Christ, gazing out at me from the Image, and shared all my feelings with Him: my fears, frustrations and the loneliness of the room. In the dark corners, the demons of my inner voice, very real to me, did their best to demoralize me . . . “You will never make it for the next six years! Give up, go home!  This life will never bring you happiness!”  The voices screamed!

As I began to speak of my trust in the Sacred Heart of Christ, a wonderful peace would settle in my troubled heart. The voices from the dark lost their power over me.  His Healing Presence came quietly to take away the loneliness of the room.  Every night we spoke with each other.  I was alone with my Lord, not demons.  I began to look forward to this quiet time together.

In the forward of her novel, “The Listener”, Taylor Caldwell, the British born American author wrote, “The most desperate need of men today is not a new vaccine for any disease, or a new religion, or a new ‘way of life’. . . His real need, his most terrible need, is for someone to listen to him . . . as a human soul.” Written 58 years ago, her insight still rings true.

Jesus of Nazareth comes into our lives as the Man Who listens! “Come to me, All you who are weary and burdened, and I will refresh you.”  In all the confusing experiences of life, with their heartaches, disappointments and painful times, Jesus assures us, His followers, of His availability, at all times all the days of our lives.  I still find it comforting to know, that in my prayers and my words, through my worries and fears, Jesus is there and He is listening!

Fr. George McKenna

October 21, 2018 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , | 7 Comments

Our Many Calls From God

Jesus and the young rich man

For all Sundays, the First Reading and the Gospel give the theme of the day. Today the theme relates to the gift of wisdom, leading a good life and understanding what it means to answer the call from God.  Allow me to tell of a big Call from God in my life.

All through 8th Grade, Sister Angelista encouraged me to attend Quigley, the Minor Seminary in Chicago.  Quigley offered a five year course to prepare students for Major Seminary.  I kept telling Sister I wanted to be a railroad engineer.  One night, during the spring of 8th Grade, I suddenly sat up in my bed and said aloud to myself, “I’m going to be a priest.” God used Sister Angelista to give me this Call.

However, smooth sailing doesn’t necessarily come with answering God’s Call. I started Quigley two days late because my mother feared the two hour daily round trip to the school on the street car.  The Great Depression gripped the nation in the 1930s.  Money was scarce.  My father died suddenly when I was 16.  Health issues made me wonder if I was fit for the Priesthood.

After Ordination in 1944, I went back to Quigley to teach for 19 years. From the above, realize that challenges can come even after we put faith in these calls from God.  God uses daily happenings to pass His Call on to us.  Maybe a movie touches our hearts and encourages us to be a better person.  One of my favorites is “The Bishop’s Wife”.  An angel, in the person of Cary Grant, comes to help a Bishop of some Christian denomination (David Niven).  I always want to be a more loving person after I see this movie.

Scripture read at Mass, the words of the preacher’s homily, a conversation with a friend, an article we read, a stimulating book, a sickness of a dear friend or family member, the death of someone close to us . . . God speaks to us through these daily interactions. In our busy life, we need to make time to listen to His calling!  The memory of my priest Rector in the Major Seminary, Monsignor Hillenbrand, still spurs me on to be a good priest and follow God’s call.

We must believe strongly in God’s loving wish to keep in touch with us, all through our lives. God makes no personal appearances.  He appears in the lives of others around us, and most likely unknown to you – He will use you to speak to others.  Sister Angelista came to my First Mass.  Thank You Sister!                                                                                                 

Fr. George McKenna

October 21, 2018 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , | 2 Comments