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Be A Light To Darkened Hearts

Loneliness by Hans Thoma (1839-1924)
Via Wikipedia

I recall an interview I heard on the radio many years ago. Fr. Francis R. Duffy C.S.SP, a professor from Duquesne University in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, was interviewing a 7 year old boy who had been in trouble with the police for doing many destructive things during his young life. Fr. Duffy asked the boy, “What is the first thing you wish?” The boy replied, “I want to be loved.” Fr. Duffy replied that not to be loved makes one feel cold. The commentator came on at that point and replied, “We don’t get rid of juvenile delinquency by lighting up dark streets, but by lighting up dark hearts!”

The little boy spoke in a hesitating way as he tried to express his feelings . . . “many times I feel cold, then I get nervous, and then I do bad things.” If one would look into delinquency, juvenile or adult, I would think you would find the cause to be lack of love. We all need to be loved. How fewer problems would children and adults have if they knew they were loved and wanted.

Christ comes as the Light of the World to bring the warmth of His Love. He wants to take away that feeling of coldness which makes us so insecure and afraid of life. During this Advent, a good prayer is “Come, Lord Jesus.” A close priest friend of mine who knew Scripture well, spoke these words as his last . . . he died an early death, and at his last, he sat up in bed and shouted, “Come, Lord Jesus.”

Without Christ this world becomes a chilling place. When we put our hopes and dreams on possessions or money, we are left empty and cold. Money can’t buy you happiness, a sense of purpose or worth. It can’t buy you true love or true friends. You can’t buy the ability to enjoy simple things – a summer day, a flower in bloom. Money will buy you things – it won’t buy you true gratitude.

This Christmas, Christ won’t be physically born again. But he comes once again into our hearts, our homes, and our community. How greatly we need His Presence. We have to know that Our God loves us . . . how well this is shown by the birth of the Child at Bethlehem.

This Advent we must put an effort into thinking of Christ, and believe that this Christmas will be different from all the Christmases of the past. Let us prepare our hearts for the arrival of the Child of Bethlehem. Plan how you will spend the next four weeks. Pray each day. Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and perform penance. Go to Mass one extra time during the week. Smile at that “difficult” person at work and wish him a good day. Respond to an angry person with compassion and understanding. Let the person behind you at the grocery store go before you.  

Each day we can find individuals who are struggling with insecurity, loneliness, resentment, anger, and a lack of love. Christ fills our life with Love! Take this time of year, to share that Love with others and make a difference. Be a light to their darkened hearts.

         Fr. George McKenna

December 1, 2018 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , | 7 Comments

What Price Can We Put On Kindness?

Monsignor John Hayes

Over twenty years ago, on Friday March 28, 1998, a hundred priests gathered for the Funeral Mass of a fellow priest, Father Joe Ryan, 80, in St. Walter’s Church on Chicago’s far south side. The overflow crowd of friends attested to the fact that Father Joe had been a much loved priest.

As I sat there in church that cold, windy morning, my thoughts went back 65 years to my first year in Quigley Seminary, located then close to Holy Name Cathedral. On that October afternoon in 1933, a long line of us boys was waiting to shoot a basketball in our pint-sized gym.

Suddenly, a bigger boy came along and pushed me out of line. Rude.  At that moment, a second year boy showed up and put me back in place.  Little did I know that this incident would forever remain in my memory.  The kindness of the older boy, Joe Ryan, has haunted my mind all through the ensuing years.

There is something Christ-like about kindness, doing a favor for someone, maybe even a stranger. I was a little nobody back in 1933, a stranger to Joe Ryan, but he took time to help me.  That’s why we wish to know Jesus of Nazareth as well as we can.  We want to be a person like Him, ready to show consideration to other human beings.  On every person’s back, we can put the word “fragile”!  We are so easily hurt and crushed by the happenings of life!

One day the Pharisees brought a woman accused of adultery to Jesus. “Such a woman should be stoned”, they told the Master.  Stooping down, the Lord began to write their sins in the sand.  Soon, only Jesus and the woman stood alone.  With a gentle, compassionate voice, He told her, “I do not condemn you, but sin no more.”  I sure like the way Jesus treated her tortured spirit.  If He had agreed to her stoning, I would have been heartbroken.  Instead, He protected her from the vultures seeking her blood.  I feel like shouting, “Glory Alleluia!”  How wonderfully kind is Our Savior!

Kindness, the full flowering of all the human virtues, makes a person so attractive, so appealing, so winning! I wanted to get up at Father Joe’s Funeral Mass and tell of my meeting him in that crowded gym 65 years earlier.  Tears came easily during this Mass of the Resurrection.  Kurt Vonnegut, the noted writer, put it well:  “There is only one Commandment.  You’ve got to be kind.”

Just in front of me at this Mass sat Father John Hayes, at the time he was 92. He is my all-time hero.  Back in 1933, I said to myself, as I saw this priest in the Quigley Chapel, “That’s the kind of priest I would like to be – quiet, prayerful, respectful of students, kind.”  I didn’t even know his name at that time, but his presence spoke of who he was inside.  I was 100% correct in choosing him for my ideal of a kind person.

The news this week of two high profile cases of suicide draw to light the many silent, internal struggles many people face each and every day. We should not judge, but we should extend kindness and love to all.  Your small acts of compassion could end up saving a life.

Fr. George McKenna

June 10, 2018 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , | 10 Comments