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Religion, A Personal Commitment To Christ

I passed this small card out before Mass today along with my Blog – on the back – The 10 Commandments!

When I was a boy of eight or nine years of age, I envied the children on my block that had no religion.   These boys and girls had an ideal life style: no Church to attend on Sunday, no Ten Commandments to follow, and no necessity of going to a priest to tell their sins.  I had to go to Church, try to keep the Commandments and then tell my sins to the parish priest.  The thought often came to me, “why was I born into a family with faith?”

Then the Holy Cross nuns taught us children that Jesus of Nazareth stood behind every Commandment with these words on His lips, “If you love Me, keep the Commandments!” Suddenly I saw the long list of “dos” and “don’ts”, not as an enumeration of restrictions, but rather a loving posting of directions to happiness and peace.

I realized that by following these wishes of Christ, I could deepen my friendship with Him. The way of life that the children with no religion followed oftentimes led to selfishness, self gratification and sometimes, self destruction.

About 50 years ago, I read the pamphlet entitled, “Are We Really Teaching Religion?” written by Frank Sheen, an outstanding layman at the time. The main theme of the essay came to this: “Children are leaving 8th Grade with much information about faith in God, but too often have not developed a warm friendship for Jesus of Nazareth.”

After leaving 8th Grade or High School, the young people drop all this intellectual data as so much baggage and stop attending worship services  If Jesus of Nazareth had become a close, loving friend, the youth would have felt a sudden distress in their hearts at His disappearance from their lives.

Religion can’t simply be dry bones information, but rather a loving, personal commitment to Jesus of Nazareth. Young people are capable of strong, loyal friendships.  Notice how they spend hours on their phones and computers, logged on to social media sites, checking in with their friends.  They can do this because of their interest in the lives of others.

My grand nieces and nephews have all attended Catholic High Schools. Each school offered the students the chance to attend a Kairos retreat during their Junior or Senior Years.  It provides them with four days to contemplate God in their lives and develop a relationship with this Jesus of Nazareth. 

What a wonderful way to grow in your personal commitment to Christ. Encourage your children and grandchildren to seek out these types of events.  Be courageous.  Share this message with them.

Fr. George McKenna

February 4, 2018 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Faith Of A Little Boy

Is our faith like that of little Marcelino? Does Jesus come alive in our
minds and hearts?
Photo by Andreas Praefcke via Wikipedia

Once upon a time, a deeply agitated person left a newborn boy at the doorsteps of a monastery. The mother had died in giving birth to the child.  After much discussion, the monks voted to raise the child in the all-male atmosphere of the monastery and to give him the name, Marcelino.

In the next few years, Marcelino had the run of the monastery and the complete love of all the monks. However, Father Abbot warned the little boy, “Do not go up these stairs to that room!” One day, overcome by curiosity, the five year old boy ventured up the stairs, opened the door and found himself in a musty, little used storeroom.

At the back of the dark room, he came upon a man with his hands nailed to a cross. Marcelino didn’t know it as a crucifix.  To him, the man appeared as a living human being, like one of the monks.  With quick sympathy of a gentle little boy, he asked the figure on the cross, “Are you hungry?  Are you thirsty?”

Strangely enough a voice came from the cross, “Yes, I am.” Then began a daily routine for Marcelino.  When the monks were praying in chapel, he stole into the refectory and took bread and wine for his new found friend in the storeroom.  A nail-pierced hand would reach down and take the offerings of the child.

After some weeks, during which their friendship grew for each other, the man on the cross spoke to Marcelino. “Is there anything I can do for you?”  “Yes”, the boy responded, “I want to see my mother.”  The next day, Marcelino’s friend was sitting in a chair as he came in with his bread and wine.  With the familiarity of friendship, he climbed up on the lap of the man into his arms.

Then, the child fell asleep, apparently in the final sleep of death. Marcelino’s friend was going to give him his wish to be with his mother in Heaven.  In his adventure, Marcelino saw not a dusty, unused crucifix, but rather a real person in Christ.  In the lonely storeroom, the boy treated the figure on the cross as a suffering man in need of love and help.

The above story, is taken from a book written by Jose Maria Sanchez-Silva and has always stayed with me and provided me an insight into my relationship with Jesus.

The figure, on being treated as a live man, responded to the innocent faith of the child. He accepted the help and the loving friendship of Marcelino.  I too, can make Christ come alive if I only treat Him with such a faith as the boy’s.  If I enter that deserted room in my mind and see there, a living, breathing person in need of my attention, then Christ will respond generously to my faith.

Fr. George McKenna

January 6, 2018 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , , | 2 Comments