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A Sabbath-Keeper, A Person Of Wisdom

The Western Wall
Photo by Golasso, Via Wikipedia

In my 27 trips to Jerusalem, I have frequently witnessed the beginning of the Sabbath at sun-down on Friday evenings. A startling change came over the whole city, with buses, taxis and traffic disappearing from the streets. Without exception, all shops and factories closed down until sunset on Saturday evening, the end of the Sabbath. A peaceful silence, a stillness, fell upon the deserted boulevards.

On Friday evenings, from my position outside the walls of the Old City, I saw wave after wave of Jewish Sabbath-Keepers, in the thousands, walking up a steep hill, on a six-lane highway, towards the Old City, on their way to the Wailing Wall. Dressed in their best and in a somber mood, these religious people would begin their Sabbath with prayers at this Holy Place, located in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. The Jews consider the Wailing Wall to be the West Wall of the Temple from the time of Christ.

After these experiences, I would come home to the USA with a desire to give more attention to my personal celebration of the Christian Sabbath held on Sundays. God rested on the 7th day, not because He needed this, but rather to give us a message . . . “Give yourselves a rest from the busyness of life and think of Me”. . . In our culture, we have no hope of imitating the Sabbath of Jerusalem in regard to shutting down all activities. However, as individuals, we can bring everything to a halt in our hearts and spirit; in peace we can pass the day!

The Sunday Sabbath rest gives us a chance to think of what we are doing with out lives. A good beginning finds us worshipping God at Mass and receiving His Sacred Body and Blood. Avoid shopping on this Special Day! Manual work, like washing clothes, housework, and cutting the grass will pull us away from the spirit of the day! We meet with family needs, but we reserve some private time for ourselves. Look forward with delight to the Sabbath! Lots of love and laughter.

In our solitude, prayer and reading the Bible, a quiet thinking of the ideals of Christ, even writing some of our thoughts in our journal can give a rewarding Sabbath time. Sabbath-Keepers will spend this time in quiet joy. In the Gospels, the writers tell us of Jesus retreating to the mountain tops for prayer. He felt a desperate need to commune with His Heavenly Father for success in His Work! He kept the Sabbath by attending the synagogue services. We can learn from Jesus by setting aside time each Sunday to pray like He did.

Fr. George McKenna

July 16, 2018 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , | 1 Comment

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