Priesthood

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).

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.

November 20, 2016

My Grandmother’s Favorite Priest

fultonsheenThere was a famous priest that my grandmother, Effie Williams, loved to talk about. She was personally familiar with him because after he was ordained, he was assigned to her parish — St. Patrick’s Church in Peoria. Whenever she talked about him, her face would light up.

The one thing she talked about most was his eyes. She said that when he looked at you it was as though his eyes could see right through you — straight into your soul.

The priest was Fr. Fulton J. Sheen, later known as Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. Grandma Effie told me that when Sheen spoke, everyone listened, even the people who were not Catholics. It was as though there was a magnetic force that surrounded him that attracted people to him.

If there was such a force, it came directly from the extraordinary graces he received as a result of the holy hour of adoration he made every day for more than 60 years in the presence of our Eucharistic Lord — from the time he became a priest in 1919, until the time of his death in 1979.

It was a talk that was given by Archbishop Sheen that I listened to on a cassette tape that ignited the flame that eventually turned into a burning desire within me to start the Saint Philomena Perpetual Adoration Program. I don’t remember the year I first listened to the tape, but it was sometime during the 1980s. The tape was part of an album of tapes that I purchased that were made from recordings of a retreat Archbishop Sheen had given to priests and bishops.

The title of the tape was, The Daily Holy Hour. The audio recording of the tape is posted on the home page of my website at Adoration.com. I would strongly encourage you to listen to it. I cannot do justice to Archbishop Sheen’s message by attempting to describe it to you here. You have to hear it with your own ears.

November 22, 2015

Sex and the Soulless Being

human-vs-robotFor the past several weeks, I’ve written about the sin of contraception and how it has led to the proliferation of premarital sex, divorce, abortion, adultery, pornography, homosexuality, out-of-wedlock births, the breakdown of the family, assisted suicide, and surrogate mothers. I’ve also written about how contraception has caused a shortage of Catholic priests and how it has allowed couples to easily overrule God’s plan concerning the number of children God planned for them.

Last week, I wrote about how it has become necessary to replace the tens of millions of children who were never born — because of contraception and abortion — with illegal immigrants and robots.

I also wrote that there are several types of robots that have been developed, including industrial robots that are used by manufacturers, “carebots” that are used to help assist with the care of the elderly, “agrobots” that are used to assist with the planting of seeds and picking of fruit, commercial drones that are used for the performance of high-tech surveillance, and “robo-adivisors” that are being developed to assist individuals with their investments.

The one robot that I failed to mention is the “sexbot,” which is used to satisfy the sexual desires of its owner. Earlier this year, the New York Times published an article that featured the creator of “RealDoll,” a life size “female robot” that it is designed as a personalized sex machine that can be programmed to learn the likes and dislikes of its owner.

There are currently several well-funded companies that are combining virtual reality with robotics in order to create a sexual experience that will mimic real life. With the use of goggles, headphones, and one or more robotic devices, a user will experience what is seen, heard, and felt during a real-life sexual experience.

October 31, 2015

A Priestly Halloween Costume

Halloween - 2013A few weeks ago, my daughter Anna had a birthday party at her home. Anna has five children. They range in age from one-year-old to nine years old. After the party was over, I walked into Anna’s kitchen to say goodbye to her. When I entered the kitchen, I heard her two-year-old son Peter ask, “Mom, can I wear my vestment?” Anna replied, “Yes, I’ll get it for you in a few minutes.”

The vestment that Peter was referring to is similar to the one that is being worn by his brother in the picture on this page. The picture was taken on Halloween, two years ago. The two women in the picture are my daughters, Anna and Maria. Anna is on the left holding her son, Peter, and Maria is on the right holding her daughter, Katie.

The children standing in front are from left to right: Anna’s son David (dressed as a priest); Maria’s daughter Grace (dressed as a bride); Anna’s daughter Mary (dressed as a nun); and Anna’s daughter Kathryn (dressed as a nun).

David is wearing a vestment that is similar to the one Peter was referring to when he asked his mother if he could wear his vestment. Anna recently made a second vestment for Peter. She also made the costumes that her daughters were wearing in the picture.

A couple of years ago, David received a children’s priest kit as a gift. The kit includes a chalice, paten, and other items that a priest uses when he celebrates Mass. David and his brother and sisters frequently celebrate Mass in their home. They know all about the Mass because Anna attends daily Mass with them.

This is what goes on in the home of a devout Catholic family. It’s what went on in my parents’ home when I was growing up. I remember frequently participating in Mass at home with my brothers and sisters when we were young. We used oyster crackers for communion, and everyone who participated had their own role in the Mass.

September 12, 2015

Creating the Motivation to Make Things Happen

Make Things HappenI recently heard about a conversation that took place between some members of my extended family. The question they were apparently attempting to answer was, Why does Harry take the time to write a religious article every week? They came to the conclusion that I probably have some deep-seated guilt about my past that compels me to write. Writing a weekly article is apparently the only way I can atone for my guilt.

When I heard about the discussion, I was amused that people who really don’t know me as well as they think they do would waste their time attempting to figure me out. I’m 58 years old and I’m still trying to figure myself out.

I’ve written before about the annual Catholic men’s retreats that I attended during the 1990s. The retreat master was Fr. John Hardin. Every year, Fr. Hardin made it clear to the men who were in attendance that we had an obligation to spread the Catholic faith through the written word. He emphasized that writing was not an option. It was an obligation.

I suppose the question of why I take time out of my busy schedule every week to write is a worthwhile question to ask. That question would be relevant in any situation in which someone showed that he or she had the ambition and drive to accomplish something that most other people were unwilling or unable to accomplish.

Consider the following questions:

•  What motivated my parents to adhere to the teachings of the Catholic Church and have 17 children, while most of their friends and relatives decided to take the easy route of defying church law by using contraceptive birth control to limit the size of their families?

•  What motivated your parish priest to forego marriage and a family of his own so he could dedicate his life to God through the Sacrament of Holy Orders?

•  What motivated Donald Trump to become a billionaire?

May 17, 2014

Planting Seeds of Doubt

seeds-of-doubtEarlier this year while I was at a church-related function, I ran into some relatives — a married couple — who are about 20 years older than I am.  After we talked for short time, a priest (who is in his 60s and a friend of the couple) walked up to us and joined in the conversation.

While we were talking, the wife asked the priest if he had seen a recently released documentary that provides explicit details about corruption in the Vatican.  When the priest answered that he had not seen the documentary, the wife proceeded to talk about how appalled she was by what was revealed in the documentary.

The conversation quickly morphed into a discussion about corruption among priests.  The priest launched into a long explanation of how the church needs to change its position concerning marriage.  He said that it is his belief that it’s unreasonable for the church to expect priests to remain celibate for their entire lives.

In addition to the marriage issue, the priest said that he believes that priests should not be ordained until they are at least 45 years old.  He said that when a man is in his 20s, “he’s not mature or experienced enough to understand the seriousness of the commitment that he’s making.”

It appeared to me that the priest and my relatives were in complete agreement on all the topics that were discussed.  I kept quiet during the entire conversation except for one occasion when I challenged the priest to back up one particularly egregious statement that he made about the majority of priests in the diocese of Peoria.

I’m not going to repeat that statement here, but I will tell you that the priest was not able to offer any credible evidence that his statement was true.  He quickly changed the subject when I continued to push him to provide us with the evidence he had to support his statement.

March 30, 2013

Does The New Pope Have What It Takes?

Popes - Last Three.

You may have seen the recent report describing how Pope Francis made a telephone call to a kiosk in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to cancel his daily newspaper delivery service.  The call was made a week after the former cardinal, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was elected as our new pope.  The person who answered the telephone, Daniel Del Regno, is the son of the owner of the kiosk.  When he answered the phone, Del Regno heard a familiar voice say, “Hi Daniel, it’s Cardinal Jorge.”

Del Regno immediately assumed it was a friend of his who was imitating the former archbishop of Buenos Aires.  The newly elected pope reassured him by saying, “Seriously, it’s Jorge Bergoglio.  I’m calling you from Rome.”

Pope Francis proceeded to thank Del Regno for delivering the paper and extended best wishes to his family.  In an interview, Del Regno said that when Cardinal Bergoglio left for Rome, Del Regno asked him if he thought he would be elected pope.  The cardinal responded, “That’s too hot to touch.  See you in 20 days.  Keep delivering the paper.”

Prior to ending the call, Del Regno asked the pope if he would ever return to Buenos Aires.  Pope Francis told him that for the time being it would be difficult to return home but that he would remember the people of Buenos Aires in his prayers.  The pope then asked Del Regno to pray for him.

During an interview, Del Regno’s father, Luis Del Regno, said that they were paid to deliver the morning newspaper to the former cardinal’s residence every day but that every Sunday the cardinal “would come by the kiosk at 5:30 a.m. and buy the La Nacion [newspaper].  He would chat with us for a few minutes and then take the bus to Lugano, where he would serve mate [tea] to young people and the sick.”

The newspapers delivered to Cardinal Bergoglio were always folded and secured with a rubber band.  The elder Del Regno said that at the end of every month, the cardinal always returned the 30 rubber bands he had saved from the previous month’s newspapers.

March 16, 2013

A New Pope … An Age-Old Message

HomelessPleaseHelpThere’s a well-known Internet marketing expert with whom I have consulted on a few occasions.  His name is Rich Schefren.  I first learned about Rich when I read the Internet Business Manifesto, a report that he wrote and released in 2006.   Rich is one of two experts in the marketing world who have had the most influence over me.  The other marketing expert is Dan Kennedy.

Both Rich and Dan teach that, in order to influence a person to purchase your product or service, you have to connect with the person on both an emotional and an intellectual level.  At a marketing conference where Rich spoke a couple of years ago, he shared a true story about a friend of his (John) who lives in New York and is adept at identifying the type of message that is needed to persuade a person to make a buying decision.

On one occasion, John was going out on a date for the first time with a woman he really liked.  He made reservations at an expensive upscale New York restaurant, picked up his date, and parked his car about a block away from the restaurant.  While he and his date were walking to the restaurant, they passed a homeless man who was standing on a sidewalk near the restaurant.  The message on the homeless man’s sign said, “Homeless, Please Help.”

In an attempt to impress his date, John stopped and told the homeless man that he could make a lot more money if he changed the message on his sign.  John told the homeless man that if he allowed John to change the message, John would give him two dollars, and when John was done eating at the restaurant, if the homeless man was still in the same place using John’s message, John would give him an additional five dollars.

The homeless man agreed, and John wrote a different message on the other side of the sign.  Two hours later, when John and his date came out of the restaurant, they approached the homeless man and asked how he had done.  The man told them that he had collected sixty dollars while they were in the restaurant, which was ten to twelve times more than he normally would have collected over a similar two-hour time period.

April 28, 2012

Walt Disney & The Renegade Bishop

I’ve written before about Fr. John Hardon, a spiritual advisor and mentor of mine during the 1990s.  From 1989 to 1999, I attended 11 men’s retreats that were given by Fr. Hardon.   He died in 2000 at the age of 84.

At one of Fr. Hardon’s retreats, he told about an experience he had while he was visiting a Catholic convent in Communist Russia.  He was giving a retreat to the nuns at the convent and during one of the nights he was there, he and another priest were awakened by the sound of a thunderous crash.  By the time they jumped out of bed, got some clothes on, and ran into the hallway of the second floor balcony, they saw a group of Russian men standing inside the large room below.  The men had crashed a large truck through the main floor window and a portion of the exterior wall of the convent.

What Fr. Hardon and the other priest saw as they looked down from the balcony to the first floor, was a group of nuns on one side of the room and the men on the other side of the room.  The men were drunk and obnoxious and were yelling out obscenities.  It was clear from what they were saying that they had come to rape the nuns.

Fr. Hardon said that he started running down the stairs to stop the men from harming the nuns.  While he was running, all he could think of was, “My time has come.  My time has come.”  He knew that the “time” had come for him to prove his love for God by becoming a martyr for his Church.

When he arrived at the bottom of the stairs, Fr. Hardon ran over and stood directly in front of the man who was leading the other men.  At that point, Fr. Hardon and the leader were face-to-face.  The room was silent as both of them stood their ground and stared at each other.

You need to understand that Fr. Hardon was not the type of man who would have been able to handle himself in a fight.  He had a small frame, was thin, and was around five foot nine inches tall.  Although he could beat anyone in an intellectual fight, he probably never got in a physical fight in his life.  Despite his small stature, Fr. Hardon had the courage of a jungle lion and wasn’t afraid of anyone or anything.

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