Divine Mercy

February 17, 2018

The Challenge of Being in a Service Business

Last month, on January 21, 2018, I celebrated the 35th anniversary of the opening my law practice. I graduated from law school in May 1982, and received my license to practice law in November 1982. Two months later, on January 21, 1983, I rented an office from an established Peoria attorney.

Nine years later (1992), I hired my first associate attorney. At that time, I was 35 years old. The attorney that I hired was 10 years younger than me, and had just graduated from law school.

At the time that I hired the attorney, I had an office manager, two full-time secretaries, a full-time receptionist, and a part-time secretary. Hiring an attorney was a big step for me, and I didn’t feel as though I knew enough about running a business to continue to move forward without some assistance.

The same year that I hired the attorney, I signed a contract with Gerber Business Development Corporation to provide me with coaching on how to properly run and grow my business. I had committed to paying the attorney a large salary and I didn’t want to make any catastrophic mistakes in managing and growing my law firm.

I found out about the Gerber company when I read a book that was written by its founder, Michael Gerber. The title of the book was, The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. What Gerber said in his book about small businesses in America hit a raw nerve with me.

I had previously represented several business clients who had done well for a while and then, for one reason or another, had made mistakes that caused their businesses to fail. I had also handled several bankruptcies for individuals who had failed in their own businesses. Many of the businessmen that Gerber wrote about in his book reminded me of my own clients and their failure to succeed in their businesses.

February 10, 2018

The Death of a Special Christ-Like Priest

Georgette and I met on August 4, 1978, when we were both 21 years old. We were married in June 1980, while I was on break from law school. Ten months later, in March 1981, we had our first child, Harry. I graduated from law school in May of the following year.

We moved back to Peoria during the summer of 1982. At that time, Georgette was pregnant with our second child, Anna. I started my law practice in January 1983, and Anna was born the following month. We had our third child, Maria, 13 months later, in March 1984. When Maria was born, I was 26 years old.

It was during this period of time that my mom and my sister Colleen started commenting about how I had become too serious and I needed to lighten up. Colleen is a year and a half younger than me, and of my eight sisters, she was the one I was closest to while we were growing up.

When my mom and sister told me that I had become too serious, I hadn’t realized that my behavior had changed from the young, carefree guy who liked to have a good time and tease other people to an older guy who felt overwhelmed by the burdens of life.

But I wasn’t bothered by their comments about my being too serious. To me, that was what responsible adults did — they grew up and did their best to care for and support their families. In some respects, my mom and my sister were correct. My newfound responsibilities made me feel overwhelmed. At times, I felt as though I was doing well just to keep my head above water. Georgette and I had three babies in three years — Maria was born on Harry’s third birthday — and I was doing my best to support my family while managing my law practice.

Now, more than 30 years later, Georgette and I have 13 grandchildren, with three more on the way. I’m still serious, but I’m having more fun now than I’ve had in years. I’ve given myself permission to lighten up and revert to my childhood when I’m around my grandchildren. Their parents sometimes get irritated with me because they think I get their children riled up too much. But that’s OK with me, because I’m finally able to do what my mom and my sister wanted me to do all those years ago.

February 3, 2018

A Dream & The Greatest Showman

I recently joined my wife and some of our children at a local theater to see the movie, The Greatest Showman. The movie is a musical about the life of P.T. Barnum. It begins when Barnum is a boy. He is the son of a poor tailor who does work for a wealthy man. The man looks down on Barnum and his father, because of their lower-class status.

Barnum is a fun-loving boy who is infatuated with the wealthy man’s daughter. The man knows that Barnum likes his daughter and makes it clear to Barnum that he’ll never be good enough for her. After that, the daughter is sent to finishing school for several years. While she is away at school, she and Barnum continue to keep in contact by writing letters to each other.

Years later, when the daughter returns home from school, she is reunited with Barnum. They end up getting married and starting a family. After borrowing money from a local bank, Barnum buys an old museum building in downtown Manhattan. He then sets up Barnum’s American Museum, which showcases wax figures.

After struggling to make his new business work, Barnum’s children tell him that instead of featuring wax figures, he needs to have characters who are “alive.” Barnum likes the idea and begins searching for and hiring “freaks” to serve as performers. As he is rounding up his new cast of characters, Barnum sings the unique and mesmerizing song, Come Alive.

As Barnum’s new show gains popularity in New York, a reporter for the New York Herald is highly critical of Barnum and his “freak show.” The reporter’s columns about Barnum and his show stir up trouble among certain people in the community, including the upper-class members of the community.

To enhance his reputation with the upper-class, Barnum convinces Philip Carlisle, a local playwright from a wealthy family, to join him in his business. To raise Barnum’s status, Carlisle arranges a trip to Europe for Barnum and his cast of characters to meet Queen Victoria.

January 27, 2018

Why is That Church in a Music Video?

I’ve written before about how I was involved in music during my high school and college years. When I was a senior in high school, I formed a barbershop quartet with three of my friends. I did the same thing in college. While my high school quartet had a limited number of performances, my college quartet performed at several community functions and events.

I’ve always been a big fan of quartets and other a cappella groups. One of the groups that I currently pay attention to is Home Free, an American a cappella singing group that consists of five young men. Home Free got its big break in 2013, when it won a competition on the NBC television show, The Sing-Off. The grand prize that year was $100,000, plus a recording contract with Sony.

Last month, Home Free performed at the Peoria Civic Center. Georgette and I attended the show with some friends. My favorite Home Free song is How Great Thou Art. The music video of the song is posted on YouTube. The video has generated more than 13 million views.

In the video, the group is standing on a hill that is surrounded by several hundred acres of land. The scenery in the background includes cascading slopes and mountains. The beautiful harmony of the group is matched by the gorgeous land that surrounds them. The only building in the video is a small country church, which shows up in a field near the end of the video.

I have the video saved on an iPad that sits on a stand on my bathroom counter. Ordinarily, when I’m in the bathroom in the morning getting ready for work, I use the iPad to play educational, self-improvement, or religious recordings. In the evening while I’m getting ready for bed, I usually use the iPad to listen to music.

My son, Harry, and his wife Kathryn live about five minutes away from where my wife and I live. Because they live so close to us, they’re able to stop by our house to visit on a regular basis. Whenever they stop by for a visit, their two oldest sons, Harry and Liam, immediately start looking around the house for me. Harry is 5 years old and Liam is 3 years old.

January 20, 2018

Why Is It So Hard To Practice Patience?

It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while, I complain directly to God about something that’s bothering me. Last week, my frustration with an ongoing issue finally got to the point that one of my thoughts went up to God in the form of a question: Why can’t you just have an angel appear to me in a dream and tell me what to do? I’m tired of playing these cat and mouse games where I’m always struggling to try to figure out what I should do.

Of course, I immediately felt guilty about addressing God in this manner. Who did I think I was? A prophet? King Solomon? Saint Joseph?

But I get extremely frustrated at times, because while I want to do the right thing, I often feel as though I need specific direction from God. Although I’ve always been good at solving problems, I don’t like it when I have to wait on God to reveal pieces of the puzzle that are needed to solve the problem I’m struggling with.

I’m convinced that one of the primary reasons God operates this way is to teach me the virtues of humility and patience. If He sent an angel to tell me how to solve my problems, I wouldn’t need to learn and practice humility and patience. I would simply wait for instructions from the angel and then take credit for being a special child of God.

Most of us fail to realize that in order to really be humble, we must first suffer humiliations. And we must accept whatever humiliations that come our way with love and gratitude. While humility is the most important of all virtues, the virtue of patience has to be among the top five virtues. Why? Because it’s so difficult to put into practice.

Last week, I wrote about the three grades of patience, which are, to bear difficulties without interior complaint, to use hardships to make progress in virtue, and to desire the cross and afflictions out of love for God and accept them with spiritual joy. It would be impossible to put the three grades of patience into practice if we were to try to do it without God’s assistance.

January 13, 2018

The Difficulties That Arise After Years of Marriage

Last week, I wrote about a couple who was having financial problems because of the husband’s inability to work. Here’s what I wrote at the end of the article:
I’ve been a lawyer for more than 35 years. I’ve dealt with hundreds of couples who, after years of marriage, are facing an unexpected crisis. You would think that after being married for 20 or more years, married couples would be more patient and forgiving of each other than they were when they were newly married. But that’s usually not the case. The fact that they’ve spent years together seems to somehow inhibit their ability to practice real patience and forgiveness toward each other.

Instead of being patient and forgiving, they’re extremely frustrated and angry with each other. Why?

When couples get married, there’s always great hope for the future. With that hope comes the expectation that they will be able to work out all their problems. There is also an expectation that they will someday be able to overcome whatever bad habits or deficiencies they have.

Unfortunately, as each year passes, nothing really changes. Husbands and wives stop making the effort that is required to please each other. It’s almost as if they’ve been through too much together. They’re worn out and exhausted. They’ve run out of patience.

I’ve written before about a saying that is common in the business world: “Familiarity breeds contempt.” This saying stands for the proposition that the more familiar you are with a person, the more contemptible that person becomes.

Over time, as people in the business world become more familiar with each other, their defects and weaknesses become more evident. They are exposed to and become tired of each other’s excuses, bad habits, broken promises, lack of respect, mood swings, angry outbursts, and lack of appreciation. Before long, their patience wears thin, and the slightest infraction causes them to treat each other with contempt.

January 6, 2018

Something Married Couples Face After Years of Marriage

Last week, I had an appointment with a man — I’ll call him Jim — who hired me eight months ago to represent him on a personal injury case. As usual, Jim brought his wife with him to the appointment. I’ve met with Jim and his wife on four occasions over the past eight months. Jim was injured when a large truck disregarded a stop sign and collided with his vehicle in the middle of an intersection. Because of his injuries, Jim has not been able to return to work. He’s been without an income for eight months.

Jim and his wife are in their late 30s. He’s a skilled tradesman who has been a member of a trade union for more than 20 years. Jim has never had any problem finding work, primarily because he is willing to travel to other states to work, when necessary. Since the accident, Jim’s financial situation has become progressively worse. He has had to borrow money to support his wife and children, and he also recently cashed in part of his retirement, so he could keep up with his bills.

Prior to the accident, Jim’s wife did not work outside the home. A few months after the accident, she felt that she had no other choice but to get a job, so she applied for and secured a job at a local business.

Each of the times I’ve met with Jim, he’s been upbeat and happy. He’s an intelligent, good-natured person who likes to talk and tell stories. His wife has come to all his appointments and has always been courteous and friendly — until last week.

Last week, when I entered the conference room to meet with them, Jim was the same as he’s always been, but his wife was quiet and had an angry look on her face. Her demeanor indicated to me that she and Jim either argued on the way to my office, or she was fed up with his situation.

I talked to Jim about his condition and he indicated to me that he was still receiving physical therapy three times a week. He said that he probably wasn’t going to be able to return to work for at least another 10 to 12 months. He told me that before the accident, he worked at the same trade for 20 years.

December 30, 2017

What Did Mary Really Know?

Every year during the Christmas Season, there are articles published that are critical of the song, Mary Did You Know. As expected, in early December, Fr. Robert McTeigue, SJ, published an article with the title, “The Problem With ‘Mary Did You Know.’” In the article, Fr. McTeigue criticized the following lyrics: “Did you know that your Baby Boy has come to make you new? This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.”

Fr. McTeigue’s complaint was that the lyrics imply that Mary was a sinner who needed to be delivered from her sins. This is contrary to Catholic doctrine which states that Mary was preserved free from all stain of original sin from the moment of her immaculate conception, which allowed her to be a pure vessel in which the Son of God could be conceived and born without ever having come into contact with sin.

Another article that was published before Christmas stated that the song implies that Mary was not fully aware that she was the mother of God. The article went on to say that anyone who is familiar with the Bible knows that Mary possessed knowledge that she was the Mother of God, not only because of the Angel Gabriel’s announcement (Luke 1:26-56), but also because of her “song of praise” — known as “The Magnificat” — which indicated that she was aware of her role in the salvation of mankind. Here are the first two sentences of the Magnificat:

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his handmaid. For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed; for he who is mighty, has done great things for me and holy is his name. (Luke 1:46-49)

Whenever I read anything about the life of Mary, I think about a book that I read in the early 1980s, while I was in law school. The title of the book was, The Life of The Blessed Virgin Mary. The content for the book was taken from the recorded visions of the well-known 19th-century Catholic mystic, Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774 – 1824).

January 20, 2018

Why Is It So Hard To Practice Patience?

It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while, I complain directly to God about something that’s bothering me. Last week, my frustration with an ongoing issue finally got to the point that one of my thoughts went up to God in the form of a question: Why can’t you just have an angel appear to me in a dream and tell me what to do? I’m tired of playing these cat and mouse games where I’m always struggling to try to figure out what I should do.

Of course, I immediately felt guilty about addressing God in this manner. Who did I think I was? A prophet? King Solomon? Saint Joseph?

But I get extremely frustrated at times, because while I want to do the right thing, I often feel as though I need specific direction from God. Although I’ve always been good at solving problems, I don’t like it when I have to wait on God to reveal pieces of the puzzle that are needed to solve the problem I’m struggling with.

I’m convinced that one of the primary reasons God operates this way is to teach me the virtues of humility and patience. If He sent an angel to tell me how to solve my problems, I wouldn’t need to learn and practice humility and patience. I would simply wait for instructions from the angel and then take credit for being a special child of God.

Most of us fail to realize that in order to really be humble, we must first suffer humiliations. And we must accept whatever humiliations that come our way with love and gratitude. While humility is the most important of all virtues, the virtue of patience has to be among the top five virtues. Why? Because it’s so difficult to put into practice.

Last week, I wrote about the three grades of patience, which are, to bear difficulties without interior complaint, to use hardships to make progress in virtue, and to desire the cross and afflictions out of love for God and accept them with spiritual joy. It would be impossible to put the three grades of patience into practice if we were to try to do it without God’s assistance.

December 2, 2017

Disney World, Casinos, and Advent

If you’ve ever been to Disney World, you may have noticed that all the rides have one thing in common. At the end of each ride, there is no way for you to immediately get back into the open, where you’re allowed to roam around and look for another ride. Before you can do that, you have to walk through a gift shop. The end of each ride is set up so that you are forced to exit into a gift shop.

Disney does a masterful job of controlling the flow of its customers, who are forced to walk past merchandise that is related to the ride they exited from. At every opportunity, Disney tempts and entices its customers to purchase items for themselves and their loved ones. Of all the businesses in the world, Disney is the best at extracting large amounts of money from people.

But Disney isn’t the only company that has the money game figured out. If you’ve ever been in a casino, you know that if you have to go to the restroom, there’s no easy way to get there. Instead of taking a direct route to the restroom, you have no other choice but to walk through a maze of slot machines, video poker machines, and other gaming devices.

Like Disney, the casino owners know that people can be tempted to take part in one more money-extracting event before proceeding to their final destination.

It’s no secret that people can easily be distracted and their attention diverted so they can engage in an activity that they believe will be more enjoyable and pleasurable than what they are doing at the moment.

Some of the highest paid professionals in the United States are the men and women who write advertisements and sales letters for the top companies in the world. These professionals are called “copywriters” and they are experts on human nature and the psychology behind why people buy.

With one compelling headline and sub-headline, a good copywriter can figuratively grab people by the collar and pull them into an advertisement or sales letter and then convince them to buy a product or a service that they may not actually need.

October 14, 2017

Wild Fires, Calamities, and Climate Change

If you pay attention to the news, you know about the wildfires in California. I’m writing this article on Friday, October 13, 2017. There are currently several fires that are burning out of control in California. Firefighters have not been able to contain any of the fires. So far, more than 5,700 buildings have been destroyed and 34 people have died as a result of the fires.

Thousands of homes are still in danger of being burned to the ground. The path of the fires is completely unpredictable because no one knows how strong the winds are going to get or when the winds will shift course. One of my older brothers, Mike, lives with his wife in Santa Rosa, California, which is one of the cities that was hit by the wildfires. While several areas that surround my brother’s neighborhood were destroyed by fire, his neighborhood was spared. Unfortunately, there’s still a chance that the fire will come roaring back into his neighborhood. I would appreciate it if you would say a prayer that everything will go well for my brother, his wife, and their property.

The wildfires in California came only a month after Hurricane Irma left a devastating path of destruction in the Caribbean, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. In addition to the widespread destruction that was caused by Hurricane Irma, there were 134 deaths, most of which occurred in the United States. A month before Hurricane Irma arrived, hurricane Harvey barreled through Texas causing extensive property damage, flooding, and 77 confirmed deaths.

Of course, each time one of these devastating natural disasters occurs, we are lectured by Hollywood celebrities, the talking heads in the media, and various “experts” from around the world that the disasters are being caused by climate change. We are then told that we should listen to these so-called experts, so they can tell us what needs to be done to eliminate future catastrophic events.

January 30, 2016

A Merciful Savior Intervenes

Dumit GhantousLast week, I published a tribute that my wife, Georgette, had written about her father, Dumit Ghantous. Georgette’s dad passed away on January 19, 2016. I met Dumit on August 4, 1978, when I was 21 years old. I remember the date because it was the same day I met Georgette. We met in Indianapolis, Indiana, at the Midwest Federation Lebanese Convention. From the moment I met Dumit, he treated me like I was a member of his family.

Dumit was a very unique man who was blessed with the ability to connect in a special way with everyone he met. He was very outgoing and was energized by being around other people. He had a way of showing people that he genuinely cared about them. He was a master at making people feel good about themselves.

Dumit was a tailor by trade. He loved to sing, dance, and play his oud. An oud is a pear-shaped stringed instrument that is most commonly used in the Middle East. Dumit had the ability to pick up his oud and while playing it, create a beautiful love song out of thin air about his wife, one of his children, or one of his grandchildren.

On the morning of January 6, 2016, one of Georgette’s sisters called her on the telephone and told her that Dumit’s heart had stopped beating because of a sudden cardiac arrest. One of the family members had already called 911 and there were paramedics at Dumit’s house attempting to revive him. The paramedics were able to get his heart going again and he was rushed to the hospital.

Upon arriving at the hospital, Dumit was hooked up to a ventilator. A ventilator is a machine that is designed to mechanically move breathable air into and out of a person’s lungs. It is used on patients who are physically unable or incapable of breathing on their own.

The same day that Dumit was admitted into the hospital, Georgette posted a request on Facebook for prayers. Within hours, word spread throughout the local Catholic and Lebanese communities, as well as the worldwide Lebanese community. Georgette heard from relatives from different parts of the world, including California, Australia, and Lebanon. Our best estimate is that there were over 1,000 people praying for Dumit and his family.

February 21, 2015

Trash Compactors and Depression

Walls Closing InOn a Friday evening in June 1977, while I was in the family room of my parents’ home, the evening news came on the television. The news opened with a teaser announcement about a movie that had recently been released that was surprising all of the critics and was wildly popular among viewers. Of course, if we wanted to know what that movie was, we had to sit through 20 minutes of the news before the newscaster would tell us about the movie.

At that time, I was 20 years old and had recently finished my second year in college. After the announcement about the new movie, one of my younger brothers asked me if I knew what movie the announcer was talking about. I told him that I had no idea. My brother asked, “Do you think it’s Rocky?” I replied that I did not think that it could be Rocky because although the movie about the rise of a small-time boxer was extremely popular, it had been released in late 1976 and had already run its course.

We hung around the family room and waited for the story about the movie. At that time there was no Internet so the only way to learn about newly released movies was from network television, the print media, or by word of mouth. It turned out that the movie was Star Wars, a science fiction film that had been released by 20th Century Fox on May 25, 1977. In addition to discussing the main characters, the news story also showed clips from the movie and talked about the popularity of the “droids,” C-3PO and R2-D2.

Within a week of seeing the story about Star Wars, I went to the theater to see the movie with a couple of my friends. At one point in the movie, to escape from enemy fire, the main characters, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Hans Solo, and Chewbacca, duck into a room-sized trash compactor. After discovering that they are trapped, the enemy activates the mechanical system that causes the walls of the compactor to close in on and crush all the trash that is in the compactor.

November 15, 2014

The Way Things Are Done At Disney

Disney Diagram 1

The image on this page is from a diagram that was drawn in 1967 on an 11 x 17 inch sheet of paper.  The drawing is an outline of all of the integrated components of the Walt Disney Company.  Although Disney died in 1966, the diagram reflects his vision for the company that he built into a business empire.

I saw the diagram for the first time earlier this month at a marketing conference that I attended.  It was shown to everyone at the conference during a presentation that was given by Dan Kennedy, a well-known business strategist and marketing expert.  The reason Kennedy showed the diagram was to demonstrate how masterful Disney was at building complex systems to attract new customers and to better serve existing customers.

The entities shown in the diagram were all set up by Disney to promote the products and services of all the other entities, and to circulate customers in such a way that the customers would repeatedly do business with the various entities.  Kennedy emphasized the fact that while most business owners do their best to avoid complexity in their businesses, Walt Disney did the opposite by embracing complexity, which had the effect of completely marginalizing his competitors.

Kennedy pointed out that in today’s highly competitive, underperforming economy, it is virtually impossible for a business to rise above the competition unless the business develops complex systems that consistently and predictably produce superior products and services.

There is a common belief among most people that complexity should be avoided at all costs and that they should be able to solve their personal and business problems with simple solutions.  While simple problems can sometimes be solved with simple solutions, complex problems cannot be solved with simple solutions.  Complex problems require complex solutions.

November 23, 2013

Protection From A Tornado

TornadoThe recent tornado that ripped through Washington, Illinois, destroyed the home of my office manager, Kenna.  When she heard the sirens and realized what was going on, she barely had enough time to wake her daughter and get her out of bed to run down to the basement of their house.  As soon as they got down the stairs, the tornado took out her daughter’s bedroom and then tore through the rest of the house.  If Kenna had delayed her decision to get her daughter out of bed by five seconds, neither one of them would be alive today.

In addition to Kenna’s house, the house of another one of my employees was also destroyed by the tornado.  Two of my relatives who live in Washington also lost their homes.  The path that the tornado took was less than a mile away from where I live.  I feel guilty because the only inconveniences that my family and I had to endure were a loss of power for one day and a boil order that the City of Washington put into place for a few days.

Within hours of the tornado, hundreds of people took it upon themselves to reach out and assist the people whose homes were destroyed.

During the first few days after the storm, my wife volunteered to help out at different facilities that were set up in Washington to distribute items that were donated by local residents.  She told me that she was overwhelmed by the generosity of the members of our community.  One man walked in with several boxes of brand new blankets he had purchased from a local store.  A woman dropped off a couple dozen new coats she had purchased from Bergners.  Hundreds of other people donated newly purchased items.

On the first day my wife helped out, she said that within hours, the inside of the building looked like a showroom for Sam’s Warehouse.  It was filled with everything from diapers to canned goods, which were being given away for free to people who were in need.

August 8, 2013

The Age of Mercy

Pope - ConfessionYou may have seen the media frenzy surrounding Pope Francis’s recent answer to a reporter’s question about homosexuality, when the pope said, “Who am I to judge?”  While the worldwide media focused on this one particular response, they ignored the overall theme of the pope’s answers to questions that were thrown at him by reporters for over an hour.

The exchange between Pope Francis and reporters took place on a plane a couple of weeks ago while he was flying back to Italy from Brazil.  According to John Allen, a well-known and respected Vatican reporter who writes for the National Catholic Reporter, the 76-year-old pontiff stood in the press compartment of the plane “for an hour and 20 minutes, taking questions on every topic under the sun with no filters and no limits, speaking without notes and delivering straight answers.”

Allen pointed out that “each recent pope has had a catchphrase that represents his core emphasis. For John Paul II, it was ‘Be not afraid!’ — a call to revive the church’s missionary swagger after a period of introspection and self-doubt.  For Benedict, it was ‘reason and faith,’ the argument that religion shorn of self-critical reflection becomes extremism, while human reason without the orientation of ultimate truths becomes skepticism and nihilism.  For Francis, his signature idea is ‘mercy.’  Over and over again, he emphasizes God’s endless capacity to forgive, insisting what the world needs to hear from the church above all today is a message of compassion.”

According to Allen, mercy was the overall focus and theme of the pope’s answers to questions.  In response to a question about divorced and remarried Catholics, here’s what Pope Francis said, word for word, translated from Italian:

Mercy is a larger theme than the question you raise [divorced and remarried Catholics].  I believe this is the time of mercy.  This change of epoch, also because of many problems of the church — such as the example of some priests who aren’t good, also the problems of corruption in the church — and also the problem of clericalism, for example, has left many wounds, many wounds.  The church is a mother, it must reach out to heal the wounds, yes?  With mercy.  If the Lord never tires of forgiving, we don’t have any other path than this one: before anything else, curing the wounds, yes?  It’s a mother, the church, and it must go down this path of mercy.  It must find mercy for everyone, no?  I think about how when the Prodigal Son returned home, his father didn’t say, “But you, listen, sit down.  What did you do with the money?”  No, he held a party.  Then, maybe, when the son wanted to talk, he talked.  The church must do the same.  When there’s someone … but it’s not enough to wait for them: we must go and seek them.  This is mercy.  And I believe that is a kairos, this time is a kairos of mercy.  John Paul II had this intuition first, when he began with Faustina Kowalska [a nun and mystic who emphasized God’s mercy], the Divine Mercy [John Paul named the second Sunday after Easter “Divine Mercy Sunday”] … he had something, he intuited that it was a necessity of this time.

June 11, 2011

A St. Louis Miracle

Last Sunday while I was at a graduation party, I spent some time talking to one of Georgette’s cousins, Tim Siedlecki.  Tim is in his mid 30’s.  About 13 years ago, he moved from Peoria to St. Louis after accepting a job at the Boeing Corporation.  Shortly after he moved, Tim bought a house in a residential area near the St. Louis airport.

One of the first things I asked Tim was whether the tornado that passed through St. Louis in April had any impact on his neighborhood.  He said yes.  The tornado followed a path that tore up parts of the airport and then proceeded to pass through the area where Tim lives.  I asked him where he was when the tornado touched down and he said he was at Mass at St. Raymond’s Maronite Catholic Church (near downtown St. Louis).  He heard about the tornado after Mass and listened to updates on his car radio while he drove home from the church.

As he approached his subdivision, the main street leading into the subdivision was blocked off, so he was prevented from driving to his house.  He tried several different routes, all of which were blocked by local police.  It was dark outside and a police officer stopped him and told him that because of the extensive damage in his neighborhood, he would be better off finding somewhere else to stay for the night.

Tim was anxious to see if the tornado damaged his house, so he found a place to park his car and then proceeded to walk home.   As he was walking home, he passed several houses that were severely damaged or completely destroyed.  There were also a number of trees that had been uprooted and had fallen onto the streets and onto several of the houses.

As Tim was telling me what happened, he hesitated and then told me about an experience he had when he was a teenager (over 20 years ago).  He said that my mom gave a talk about devotion to the King of Divine Mercy (also known as the Divine Mercy) at a youth group meeting he attended at St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church in Peoria.  At that time, the church was located on Bradley Avenue in Peoria, only a few blocks from where Tim lived.

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