Saints

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.

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.

November 18, 2017

Thank God I’m a Catholic Boy

In March 1975, during my senior year in high school, country music singer John Denver released a new single record with the song, Thank God I’m a Country Boy. That year, only six songs made it to the top of both the Billboard Hot Country Singles Charts and the Billboard Hot 100.

At that time, the Billboard Hot 100 included the week’s most popular songs across all genres. Rankings were based on record sales, radio airplay, and jukebox activity.

To this day, whenever I hear Thank God I’m a Country Boy, my spirits are lifted and I feel grateful for what I have.

There’s a video on YouTube of a 1977 TV special, where John Denver performed the song with a backup group that was made up of three additional great country music performers: Johnny Cash, playing the guitar; Roger Miller, playing the fiddle; and Glen Campbell, playing the banjo.

In the area below the YouTube video is a comment from one of Denver’s fans: “I wish I had a time machine, so I could go back and be there.” Most people who were teenagers during the 1970s (including me) would love to go back and “be there” for a performance of their favorite musician.

Denver’s Thank God I’m a Country Boy came to my mind last week when I realized that Thanksgiving Day was right around the corner.

While it’s good that we have a day set aside each year to reflect and be thankful for everything that we have, one day a year is not enough. Unfortunately, most of us are so busy that it’s easy to go several days without consciously giving thanks for what we have.

If you’re familiar with Thank God I’m a Country Boy, you’ll recognize a refrain that’s repeated throughout the song:

Well, I got me a fine wife, I got me old fiddle
When the sun’s comin’ up I got cakes on the griddle
Life ain’t nothin’ but a funny, funny riddle
Thank God I’m a country boy

August 19, 2017

A Pocket Knife, a Pen, and the Blood of a Dead Pope

Every day when I come home from work, I empty my pockets and put the items from my pockets into the top drawer of my dresser. I have a separate place for my wallet, my keys, and my rosary. Next to where I keep my keys is a pocket knife that my dad gave to me. The pocket knife is important to me because it belonged to my grandfather, Tom Williams.

Whenever I open my drawer and see my grandfather’s knife, I’m reminded of all the occasions when we spent time together watching television, working on projects, and cleaning his laundromat.

In addition to the pocket knife, I also have a shiny, black fountain pen. Engraved in silver on the pen is the name of my other grandfather, Harry M. LaHood. My mom gave the pen to me when I was a boy. Because my mom’s dad died three days before I was born, I never had the opportunity to get to know him.

I think about both of my grandfathers on a regular basis and periodically reach out to them in prayer to ask for their help with challenges that I am facing.

I thought about the pocket knife and pen last week when one of my clients — I’ll call her Julie — made a comment to me: “I’m not Catholic, so I have no idea why Catholics would care about a vial that contains the blood of a dead pope. Can you explain to me why people would want to go look at a vial with blood in it?”

The look on Julie’s face gave away how she felt about people who would go out of their way to look at a vial of blood. She thought it was extremely bizarre that there are people who would make a special effort to pay homage to the blood of a dead person.

Julie was referring to a news report that she had seen that stated that a vial that contains the blood of Saint John Paul II was going to be on display at Saint Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, on Saturday, August 19, 2017.

June 10, 2017

Is Getting Drunk a Mortal Sin?

On a Saturday evening during the summer of 2001, my three college-age children invited several of their friends over at our house for a party. They started the evening in the kitchen eating pizza and then moved the party downstairs to our family room.

The friends were from two large local Catholic families. Georgette and I were friends with their parents, so later in the evening, the parents stopped by our house to join the party. I stayed upstairs until I finished a project I was working on. I ended up going downstairs at around 12:30 a.m.

When I joined the party, there was a lively discussion going on between the parents and the children. They had gone back and forth, giving their opinions about whether they thought it was a mortal sin to get drunk. By the time I arrived, they had all agreed that although it was sinful to drink to excess, the sin did not rise to the level of a mortal sin.

When I entered the room, one of the parents filled me in about what was going on and asked what I thought. I responded by saying, “Of course it’s a mortal sin!”

I explained that when people drink to excess, they deprive themselves of the ability to think and behave rationally. Because they have given up their ability to think and behave rationally, they become a danger to themselves and to the other people they come into contact with.

While my children and our friends agreed with me that people who drink too much lose their ability to think and behave rationally, they refused to agree with me that getting drunk is a mortal sin. They insisted that I back up my position with proof.

All I could tell them was that when I was a senior in college, I read several books about the Catholic faith. One of the books stated that getting drunk was a mortal sin. I told them that the book was written during the 1950s, before the “anything goes” culture of the 1960s changed the way a lot of Americans viewed sex, drugs, and alcohol.

May 20, 2017

The Countdown Clock Never Stops Ticking

On a Sunday afternoon in May 1987, I drove my family to my parents’ house so that we could visit with them. At the time, Georgette and I had four children — Harry, Anna, Maria, and Laura. When we arrived, my mom wished me a happy birthday. I had turned 30 the previous week. After wishing me a happy birthday, my mom’s first question was, “How does it feel to be 30 years old?”

Before I had a chance to answer, my wife spoke up and said, “He’s been depressed about it.” I looked at my wife and she had a smile on her face. She knew that her comment would stimulate an interesting and unpredictable conversation between me and my mom.

My mom looked at me and said, “Why would you be depressed? You have a lovely wife and four beautiful children. You have everything going for you.” I immediately responded, “Mom, any deadbeat can have four kids. And he doesn’t have to limit himself to one woman to do that! Besides, I’m in debt up to my ears and I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything.”

In a sharp tone of voice, she said, “Shame on you!” while she swung her right hand around and hit me on my left arm. “You know better than to say something like that. God has blessed you more than you know.” She wasn’t done talking. She continued to give me the typical lecture that a loving Catholic mother would give to her little boy when she felt he needed to hear what she had to say.

In reality, beginning at the age of 30, I got a little down every five years as my birthday approached. At the age of 30, 35, 40, and 45, I felt sorry for myself because I didn’t feel as though I had accomplished what I was capable of accomplishing. I’ve always had high expectations for myself and it’s easy for me to get discouraged because I’ve failed to meet those expectations.

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.

September 10, 2016

An Icon of the Good Samaritan

mother-teresa-and-childThe number one Catholic in the world, Pope John Paul II, called her “an icon of the Good Samaritan.” The number one atheist in the United States, Christopher Hitchens, called her “a religious fundamentalist, a political operative, [and] a primitive sermonizer.” Planned Parenthood called her a “very successful old and withered person, who doesn’t look in the least like a woman.”

That old and withered, primitive sermonizer was canonized as a saint on September 4, 2016, by Pope Francis.

During her lifetime, she was known as Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Today, she is known as Saint Teresa of Kolkata (the name of the city Calcutta, India, was changed to Kolkata in 2001).

You’ve probably heard of the Singing Nun. Mother Teresa was the Smiling Nun.

Susan Conroy was a 21-year-old American college student when she started working with Mother Teresa. She later wrote a book, Mother Teresa’s Lessons of Love and Secrets of Sanctity. In a recent article that was published in the National Catholic Register, “Willing Hands, Loving Heart,” Susan wrote about Mother Teresa’s joyful spirit:

Mother Teresa used to say that “a smile is the beginning of love.” A spirit of joy, as seen in a smile, was so important to Mother Teresa. She used to say, “We will never know just how much good a simple smile can do.” 

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Mother Teresa made it sound so easy! If you have hands and a heart, you can do it! There was actually one more thing you needed in order to help this saint serve the poorest of the poor: Besides a smile, you had to come with a spirit of cheerfulness. Mother Teresa explained that many of those whom she and the sisters served were physically or mentally ill; they were lepers, abandoned children, the dying and the lonely. She said that if we went to them with a sad face, we would only make them more depressed. So come with a smile! Come with joy!

August 6, 2016

Perfect Hate

Hate YouDuring the late 1970s, while I was in college, I met a young man — I’ll call him John — who was born in the Middle East. John immigrated to the United States when he was a teenager. He was a few years older than me and it seemed as though every time I saw him, we ended up talking about religion, politics, and the volatility in the Middle East.

John grew up in a Christian environment and had great love and affection for his wife, parents, and extended family. On one occasion, John made it clear to me that he hated Palestinians. He said that they had no right to live and that they all deserved to die. I was shocked by the level of hatred John had toward people he had never met.

We ended up getting into an argument, with me expressing shock and outrage that he claimed to be a Christian while at the same time expressing extreme hatred toward individuals whose only crime was to be born into a particular ethnic group.

John’s in his 60s now and his health has been declining for the past several years. He no longer goes to church or pays attention to what’s going on in the Middle East. He’s more passive now and is content to just get through each day.

I thought about John last week when I read about what Pope Francis said during a recent press conference. The pope was asked about Fr. Jacques Hamel, an 86-year-old Catholic priest in northern France who was beheaded by two individuals who had acted in the name of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). In response to the question, Pope Francis replied, “If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence. And no, not all Muslims are violent, not all Catholics are violent. It is like a fruit salad; there is everything.”

With regard to the terrorism that is occurring throughout the world, Pope Francis commented:

Contact