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The Right Stuff

The birthplace of Mary Magdalene, Magdala, Holy Land, on the Shores of the Sea of Galilee. Photo between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900 courtesy of the Library of Congress, via Wikipedia.

I heard a story years ago that has never left my memory. One summer day, in the late 1960’s, I was standing on the shores of the Sea of Galilee in the Holy Land. Nearby a minister was talking to his people, a group of Holy Land pilgrims. Listening in the shade of the trees, I heard him tell this story.

“A little boy asked his father: ‘What makes lightening bugs light up at night?’ The father had no answer for this difficult question. The next day, the boy came back to his father and said, ‘I know what makes the lightening bug light up at night. It’s the stuff inside it that makes the light shine out at night.’ A simple answer to a complicated question.” The minister went on to say, “It’s the ‘stuff’ inside us that will make us shining lights in the world.”

What’s “the stuff” inside of us? Think of it as our ideals for living. How loving are we? How strong is our prayer life? How generous are we, how unselfish? How determined are we to live out the 10 Commandments in our daily lives?

Perhaps you recall the 1983 film, The Right Stuff. The movie tells of the qualities of mind, heart and body required of Air Force pilots in their quest to be astronauts. These special gifts made up “the right stuff” and enabled them to succeed in their dangerous career. Our “career” as followers of Jesus of Nazareth can be difficult at times, and for some dangerous as well.

I want to bring into my life the qualities that Jesus showed in His life’s adventures: love for His Father, concern for others, respect for His Mother Mary, His spirit of prayer in lonely places, and His courage in suffering. Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world.” Certainly He had the “right stuff.”

If I hold resentments in my life, it is like I have cornered off a piece of my heart and soul as a place of darkness, with a spirit of hatred, revenge and ill-will dwelling there. My light will not shine as brightly as it should. Selfishness, a heart set upon the illicit pleasures of life, does not make up the “right stuff.”

This weekend we turn back our clocks. The darkness of the winter months is now upon us. I want my light to shine out into the world about me, so that its brightness will roll back the darkness of evil.

Fr. George McKenna

November 3, 2017 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , , , | 2 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