Hope, Love

A True Story To Share…..Tommy’s Story

My brother forward this story to me and i want to share it when everyone, that’s why i put it up in my blog. I hope each of you will spend your times to read this story. God bless.

This is the Tommy’s Story

Father John Powell, a professor at Loyola University in  Chicago, writes
about a student in his Theology of Faith class named Tommy:

Some twelve years ago, I stood watching my university
students file into the classroom for our first session in the Theology
of Faith.

That was the day I first saw Tommy.  My eyes and my mind
both blinked.  He was combing his long flaxen hair, which hung six
inches below his shoulders.  It was the first time I had ever seen a boy
with hair that long.  I guess it was just coming into fashion then.  I
know in my mind that it isn’t what’s on your head but what’s in it
that counts; but on that day I was unprepared and my emotions flipped.  I
immediately filed Tommy under “S” for strange… Very strange.

Tommy turned out to be the “atheist in residence” in
my Theology of Faith course.  He constantly objected to, smirked at, or
whined about the possibility of an unconditionally loving Father/God.
We lived with each other in relative peace for one semester, although I
admit he was for me at times a serious pain in the back pew.

When he came up at the end of the course to turn in
his final exam, he asked in a cynical tone, “Do you think I’ll ever find
God?”

I decided instantly on a little shock therapy.
“No!” I said very emphatically.

“Why not,” he responded, “I thought that was the
product you were pushing.”

I let him get five steps from the classroom door and
then called out, “Tommy!  I don’t think you’ll ever find Him, but I am
absolutely certain that He will find you!”  He shrugged a little and
left my class and my life.

I felt slightly disappointed at the thought that he had
missed my clever line – He will find you!  At least I thought it was
clever.

Later I heard that Tommy had graduated, and I was duly
grateful.

Then a sad report came.  I heard that Tommy had terminal cancer.
Before I could search him out, he came to see me.
When he walked into my office, his body was very badly wasted and the
long hair had all fallen out as a result of chemotherapy.  But his eyes
were bright and his voice was firm, for the first time, I believe.
“Tommy, I’ve thought about you so often; I hear you are sick,” I
blurted out. 

“Oh, yes, very sick.  I have cancer in both lungs.
It’s a matter of weeks.” “Can you talk about it, Tom?” I asked. 

“Sure, what would you like to know?” he replied 

“What’s it like to be only twenty-four and dying? 

“Well, it could be worse.” 

“Like what? 

“Well, like being fifty and having no values or ideals,
like being fifty and thinking that booze, seducing women, and making
money are the real biggies in life. 

I began to look through my mental file cabinet under
“S” where I had filed Tommy as strange.  (It seems as though everybody I try
to reject by classification, God sends back into my life to educate me.) 

“But what I really came to see you about,” Tom
said, “is something you said to me on the last day of class.”  (He remembered!)
He continued, “I asked you if you thought I would ever find God and you
said, ‘No!’ which surprised me  Then you said, ‘But He will find
you.’

I thought about that a lot, even though my search for
God was hardly intense at that time. 

(My clever line.  He thought about that a lot!) 

“But when the doctors removed a lump from my groin and
told me that it was malignant, that’s when I got serious about locating
God..  And when the malignancy spread into my vital organs, I really
began banging bloody fists against the bronze doors of heaven.  But God
did not come out.  In fact, nothing happened.  Did you ever try anything
for a long time with great effort and with no success?  You get
psychologically glutted, fed up with trying.  And then you quit. 

“Well, one day I woke up, and instead of throwing a
few more futile appeals over that high brick wall to a God who may be or may
not be there, I just quit.  I decided that I didn’t really care about
God, about an after life, or anything like that.  I decided to spend
what time I had left doing something more profitable.

I thought about you and your class and I remembered
something else you had said: ‘The essential sadness is to go through
life without loving.  But it would be almost equally sad to go through
life and leave this world without ever telling those you loved that
you had loved t hem.”

“So, I began with the hardest one, my Dad.  He was
reading the newspaper when I approached him.  “Dad.

“Yes, what?” he asked without lowering the
newspaper. 

“Dad, I would like to talk with you.” 

“Well, talk.” 

“I mean . It’s really important.” 

The newspaper came down three slow inches. “What is
it?” 

“Dad, I love you, I just wanted you to know that.”
Tom smiled at me and said it with obvious satisfaction, as though he felt a
warm and secret joy flowing inside of him.

“The newspaper fluttered to the
floor.  Then my father did two things I could never remember him ever
doing before.  He cried and he hugged me  We talked all night, even
though he had to go to work the next morning  It felt so good to be
close to my father, to see his tears, to feel his hug, to hear him say
that he loved me.”

“It was easier with my mother and little brother.
They cried with me, too, and we hugged each other, and started saying real
nice things to each other.  We shared the things we had been keeping
secret for so many years. 

“I was only sorry about one thing — that I had waited
so long.  Here I was, just beginning to open up to all the people I had
actually been close to.

“Then, one day I turned around and God was there.  He
didn’t come to me when I pleaded with Him.  I guess I was like an animal
trainer holding out a hoop, ‘C’mon, jump through.  C’mon, I’ll
give you three days, three weeks.'”

“Apparently God does things in His own way and at His
own hour.  But the important thing is that He was there.  He found me!
You were right  He found me even after I stopped looking for Him.” 

“Tommy,” I practically gasped, “I think you
are saying something very important and much more universal than you realize.  To
me, at least, you are saying that the surest way to find God is not to
make Him a private possession, a problem solver, or an instant
consolation in time of need, but rather by opening to love.

“You know, the Apostle John said that. He said: ‘God
is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is
living in him.”

“Tom, could I ask you a favor?  You know, when I had
you in class you were a real pain.  But (laughingly) you can make it all
up to me now.  Would you come into my present Theology of Faith course
and tell them what you have just told me?  If I told them the same thing
it wouldn’t be half as effective as if you were to tell it. 

“Oooh.. I was ready for you, but I don’t know if
I’m ready for your class.”

“Tom, think about it.  If and when you are ready,
give me a call.” In a few days Tom called, said he was ready for the class,
that he wanted to do that for God and for me.  So we scheduled a date. 

However, he never made it.  He had another
appointment, far more important than the one with me and my class.  Of course, his
life was not really ended by his death, only changed.  He made the great
step from faith into vision.  He found a life far more beautiful than
the eye of man has ever seen or the ear of man has ever heard or the
mind of man has ever imagined. 

Before he died, we talked one last time. 

“I’m not going to make it to your class,” he
said.

“I know, Tom”

“Will you tell them for me?  Will you … tell the
whole world for me?”

I will, Tom.  I’ll tell them.  I’ll do my
best.”

So, to all of you who have been kind enough to read
this simple story about God’s love, thank you for listening.  And to you,
Tommy, somewhere in the sunlit, verdant hills of heaven — I told them,
Tommy, as best I could. 
 
If this story means anything to you, please pass it on
to a friend or two.  It is a true story and is not enhanced for publicity
purposes. 
 
With thanks, Rev. John Powell, Professor, Loyola
University, Chicago.

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Hope, Love

Reaching For You

As i am doing my work i am listening to the worship songs that i have in my laptop. I touched by this song.

“I can’t believe the way
Your love has got a hold on me
Each morning I wake to find You near
You lift me above my fears
And set my feet on solid ground
All of my days belong to You

And I breathe in Your breath of life that fills my heart
You are my all consuming fire

I stand here before You
In wide opened wonder
Amazed at the glory of You
The power of heaven
Revealing Your purpose in me
As I’m reaching for You”

I wonder if i really surrender all my life to HIM alone? I am not sure. Time and the way i live my life now make me become far and far away from Him. Hmmmph….

Hope

Perseverance in Prayer – Part 2

Father was alone in the house now. He visited mother every day and she would occasionally have a lucid moment. He would bring her apples or small candies and try to remind her of the early days of their marriage, walking at night to see the local baseball team play, going on family picnics, spending summer days at a cottage on a northern lake. Sometimes she would smile or laugh in recognition, but the memories were leaving her one by one.

When in the area I would attend the indult Tridentine Mass celebrated by a devout older priest in the area.  Father Norbert Wilger though in his early 80s still runs St Mary’s Parish as well as the parish school in Altoona, Wisconsin. He worked hard to receive permission to celebrate the indult Mass and has been now been doing so for years. He also has a deep devotion to Our Lady of Fatima. He very kindly suggested that given my mother’s perilous condition, she should be conditionally re-baptized and given conditional last rites. My father agreed to this and the good priest saw to it. Mother was conscious at the time and did not offer any resistance or display any reluctance. When the good priest had finished, I took her hand and made the sign of the cross with her, as she herself was now in a wheel chair and could no longer move her limbs. She willingly allowed me to make the mark of faith on her bent and dwindling body. I wept with hope and began to suspect that my trust in God had been weak indeed.

My brother and I moved father into a small apartment in a complex for the elderly. He had a solid meal every day and people around to watch over him, but he complained of being profoundly lonely. He was now at the age of 84 living alone for the first time in his life. The highlight of his day remained the visit to mother, even though she could no longer speak and did no longer recognize him. Still, he visited her faithfully. He also continued to recite faithfully the Fatima prayer every night before going to bed, for himself and for my mother. And I offered up their sufferings and sorrows on their behalf and asked God to have mercy on them and allow them good deaths.

Father Wilger regularly visited my father. He would sit and talk with him, often about the war, or about old times in the city. He would say a prayer with him, but mainly, the good priest performed great acts of Christian charity by simply remembering and visiting at a time when my poor old father felt alone and abandoned. My father would often say, “Who would have ever thought it would end like this?” The Four Last Things have no place in the protestant worldview and when Death and Judgment and Heaven and Hell loom on the horizon, they arrive as unexpected and terrifying intruders.

Last year on the Feast of St. John, shortly after Christmas, I was staying with father when he asked me if I thought Father Wilger would give him “that blessing” which mother had received. I responded, “Well, Dad, you still have your wits about you. You could get a lot more. Would you like to see Father Wilger?” When he agreed, I raced to the phone and learned with delight that the priest was free right then. I picked him up at the parish church, brought him to my father and went to the little sunroom in the building to wait, praying the rosary with tears of gratitude and, God forgive me, disbelief. My father at the age of 85 was received into the Roman Catholic Church, was conditionally re-baptized and made his first confession. On the next morning, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, Father Wilger brought my father his first Holy Communion.

Father Wilger continued to bring Communion regularly. In early March, just after Ash Wednesday, he brought my father communion. My father received it reverently and they prayed together. The next day, an old friend came to visit father and they chatted for some time. He then settled into his favorite armchair, drank a beer and fell asleep, never to awaken again in time. He made a good death. He was a good man and a great father.

Mother never really knew that father had died. We told her and she said with tears, “Poor dad,” but “dad” had long ago become confused with her own father, dead for 70 years. And then that bit of news passed away with all the other memories. When I would visit her, I would bless her with holy water and with a fragment of the True Cross, the finest gift I have ever been given. I received it from a devout nun with a special devotion to Fatima who instructed me to bless both my parents with it and I had obediently followed her instructions for the past two years. My prayers for my mother continued.

In October of this year, I lectured in Tuy Spain and Fatima for good Father Gruner. To visit those two historic sites was a great honor. After one conference I saw some blessed brown scapulars on the table and a voice in my head told me to take one and get it onto my mother. When that voice speaks, I listen. Upon my return, I sent it to my brother who lives outside of Minneapolis. He took it to the nursing home in late October and my mother at the age of 82 was clothed in the brown scapular. On the Vigil of All Saints Day, she passed quietly in her sleep. I have great hope that God will be merciful to her. She was a kind, generous, loving woman and a great mother.

Many of you reading these words prayed for my parents over many years, for I would often publicly request your assistance. There is no way in which I can thank you. Perhaps this small chronicle of prayers being answered will be thanks enough. In this season of hope, with the joy of the Savior’s birth coming upon us again, we should remember those devout chosen ones who prayed for centuries for the coming of the Messiah. Do remember, all of you praying to God for events that seem so far away and so unlikely, God hears those prayers, just as He heard the prayers over those centuries and responded on a cold night in an obscure stable in a small town in Bethlehem. My prayers over 27 years were answered by events in a small apartment and a room in a nursing home in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, obscure spaces and small gestures of which the world took no note, little suspecting again their eternal significance or that God, through a devout old priest, had again visited his people. Persistence in prayer, even for centuries or for 27 years, is no time at all in the light of eternity. God will answer those requests in His good time. So pray and pray and pray, devoutly and with confidence, for God hears those who love Him and obey Him and God is good.

Hope

Perseverance in Prayer – Part 1

I received an email from my friend months ago. It’s about a sharing from David Allen White. I can’t remember where my friend got this article but it is a touching sharing. I was touched by his journey in his life where he found Jesus as His guidance. My prayer for my parents is still have no answer and why should i give up on that. He pray for over 27 years for his parents. There is nothing impossible in Christ. Here is the sharing that i want to share. Beautiful and inspiring.

On the Vigil of All Saints Day, on the brink of my 58th year to eternity, I became an orphan. Old friends had told me of the odd feeling one experiences when both parents have died, that the world seems a strange and different place. With the death of my dear mother on October 31st, following soon after the death of my good father, I learned the truth of the statement. Those by whom I came into this world have now left this world. I also, however, feel great joy, and it is that great joy that I wish to share with you, along with a very important lesson I have learned.

My parents were both simple folk, coming from hard-working families in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. I learned late in life that both of my grandfathers, paternal and maternal, were baptized Catholics. Both apostatized when they married, my Irish grandfather James White marrying my Norwegian grandmother Bertha Johnson in a Lutheran ceremony and my German grandfather Matthew Kurtz marrying my French grandmother in a Congregational church. When my father Medwin married my mother Lois, he left the Lutheran church for the Congregational church. When I was born, three of my four grandparents were dead and the family was so far removed from its Catholic roots that I never even suspected that the Catholic Church hovered in the family’s past.

My father worked in a small meat market near the house where he had been born until he went off to serve in World War II, serving as a radio man aboard the B-17 bombers that flew the first missions over Berlin. My mother worked as a secretary at a local tire factory, helping to support her mother as her two brothers were also away serving in the War. None of them ever had a sense that that war was, as Our Lady made clear at Fatima, a punishment for the sins of the world. There was no voice that they could hear that would convey that stern and heavy truth.

When father returned after the war, he returned to the corner meat market and became a master butcher. For the next quarter century everyone in town knew where to find the best cuts of meat and the market became a local fixture, a corner grocery and a social gathering place. He married my mother on May 26, 1946, and a little over two years later I was born. I was baptized and raised in the same Congregational church where my parents had been married. The church became a focal point of family activity — church suppers, bake sales, Sunday school, choir rehearsals and the Sunday services consisting of very long sermons and very beautiful hymns.

I began to know something was odd early in high school when I was “confirmed”. I had attended “confirmation” classes but remember nothing of what we covered. In fact, for all the years of church school instruction, the one memory that remains with me is the countless passages of scripture that we were made to memorize, along with a few basic prayers. That work was a great good, the rest is long since forgotten. When it came time to be “confirmed”, those of us in the class sat in the front pew of the church on Sunday morning and in the middle of the long sermon were told by the pastor to stand. He then announced, “Now you are confirmed,” and then we were told to sit down. I remember asking myself at the time, “What was that?” It seemed to be nonsense.

When I went off to college, I did what most protestant young people do upon leaving home (and sadly most Catholic young people now as well since the advent of the new Roman Protestant Church) — I walked away. I would attend with my parents when I was home, but it was out of loyalty to them. I had no connection with the church.

At the university I learned the one essential lesson taught in every major institution of higher learning — there is no God. I learned I was “free” and could live my life as I chose to live it. So I discovered sin, a concept I had never before been taught, and thought I had achieved independence. My life spiraled downward until years later I awakened one morning and said, “I don’t like myself anymore.” I felt such despair that I forced myself to my knees and stumbled through the “Our Father” that I had learned many years before, thanks to those Sunday school teachers who had taught me when I was a child. Fortunately, when I implored God’s assistance, He came to my rescue, and through a series of miraculous events and personal decisions, I came into the Catholic Church, returning to that Mystical Body of Christ that my grandfathers had left decades earlier (I later learned that I had some devout great-aunts on both sides of the family who prayed fervently for the family’s return to the true faith — I hope to meet and thank those good ladies one day).

My poor parents were shocked. They could put up with my atheism as they assumed that was only a stage I was going through, but they could not grasp anyone converting to the Catholic Church. They were filled with all the usual protestant prejudices against the Catholic Church, a list of silliness too long and too well known to repeat here. We maintained a truce on the subject that lasted for some years and my mother even remarked at one point, “Well, at least he goes to Church.”

One night during a visit, however, tempers flared. I had been making pointed and hard comments about the secularism around us everywhere and with contemptible smugness pointed out to my parents that at least my Church spoke out against abortion while their liberal protestant denomination fully supported it. (Flannery O’Connor stated once that smugness is the great temptation for Catholics and how right she turned out to be!) My parents did not support abortion but my tone of voice and smug condescension were too much and my father exploded. He and mother were very happy in their church and I could do what I wanted, but they had had enough of my constant criticism of how they worshiped. The truce became an uneasy one and we thenceforward tiptoed around the subject. From the first day of my conversion, I had prayed that they might convert as well and I continued to pray day after day, year after year, but I never dreamed that such an unlikely event could ever occur in reality. My smugness even reached as high as God Himself — I thought I knew better than the Author of Souls what was possible for my poor protestant parents.

They remained devoted to their church and worked endlessly for it — mother acting as church secretary and even assisting the pastor in parish service duties, visiting the sick, arranging weddings and funerals,  and father helped to put up the Christmas decorations and often ushered, and both of them worked endlessly in the church kitchen, cooking, serving, washing. I remember one day shortly before Thanksgiving when they were both in their 70s. I had tried all day to reach them by phone and when I finally made contact learned that they had prepared and served a big turkey dinner for dozens of the “elderly” in the parish. I told them with some annoyance they should have been seated and been served as well, but they laughed it off. They worked and worked until the sorrows of age finally came upon them.

I had been home visiting them for their 57th wedding anniversary. When I said goodbye, my mother collapsed in my arms, sobbing. I was stunned as she knew I would be back again in two months, and though she often shed a few tears when I departed, on this occasion she unleashed a torrent. She must have known what no one else in the family could have known at the time. In the next months, her mind would fog, then darken, then shut down. She headed down the path of senile dementia and then fell into full blown Alzheimer’s disease. As she became unhinged, my father suffered greatly. She would get up three or four times a night to get “ready for work” or to cook a dinner “for the people who were coming”; she would put his clothes into the oven thinking it was the washing machine; she would wander out the front door to go visit her own mother who had been dead for 35 years. Father could not understand what had happened to the wife he loved; he had to have locks put on the inside of the door to keep her in the house; he had to have the telephones hidden as she would call random numbers day and night, thinking she was calling friends. Neither of them slept for days at a time. Father despaired, and when he stated that he wished he could just drive both of them into the river, I flew home. I was awake all night as I witnessed the nightmare father had been living through, constant vigilance, unexpected actions, total exhaustion. At one point in the night, I heard a disturbance in their bedroom and found them lying in their bed, both wearing adult diapers and both crying. The great love they had shown for me when I was young and helpless had to be repaid by me now that they were old and helpless.  I arranged for mother to go into a home that specialized in this disease. And I prayed endlessly, and God forgive me, often without hope.

The night before I took her to the care facility, I asked them if I had been a good son and they said yes. I then asked them if they would say a prayer with me and they agreed. I said the words and they repeated them after me, “Oh my Jesus” “Oh my Jesus” “forgive us our sins” “forgive us our sins” “Save us from the fires us hell” “save us from the fires of hell” ” Lead all souls to heaven” “Lead all souls to heaven” “especially those most in need.” “especially those most in need” Mother’s mind seemed clear as she spoke the words. The next morning I took her away from the home she loved. She never returned.

Hope

My Soul Rejoices in My God

Today is the 3rd Sunday of Advent. Ten more days for the coming of the Lord. His birthday that we celebrated every year. Am i ready? I am not yet ready. Too many things that i haven’t prepared. I am lost counting of what i haven’t done. His child is not ready yet. What should i do Lord?

Today’s reading touch my heart with the beautiful sermon by Fr. Albert. The angel voices from the choir singer for today Psalm is really touch my heart too. My Soul Rejoices in My God. My soul glorifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God, my saviour. He looks on his servant in her nothingness; henceforth all ages will call me blessed. This is part of the Psalm taken from Is 61: 10 and Lk 1:46-50. 53-54. It was so beautiful. Giving praise and worship for Him alone.

In the 2nd reading taken from the letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians verse 5: 16-24. Words that struck my heart today is this, Be happy at all times; pray constantly; and for all things give thanks to God, because this is what God expects you to do in Christ Jesus. Am i doing all of these? Am i praying constantly? I am not. I always skip my night prayer, morning prayer and giving thanks to my God for all the things that He has given me in everyday of my life. How ungrateful i am. Hmm…that’s why i am saying that i am yet not prepared for the coming of the Lord. Never try to suppress the Spirit or treat the gift of prophecy with contempt; think before you do anything-hold on to what is good and avoid every form of evil. Wow…hold on to what is good and avoid every form of evil. Deep inside me, i always fighting against my own desire and will because i want to follow God’s will but at all times i fall into the temptations.  I have to admit Lord that i am a sinner.

If it is about the teaching of the church and imitating Christ, i have to do something about it. With the Holy Spirit and His powerful gifts i am not alone in this world because Jesus always send us His Holy Spirit to teach us everything and remind us of all that He have told us.

Finally, i have to say; just have Faith in what we believe.