“Go out to all the World and tell the Good News!”
I have a story about a man I visited in the hospital a few years ago. I was there to anoint him. He was an elderly man who on that day was in a very talkative mood. The man’s name was Al and we had a very nice visit. And he told me about his life when he was just five years old, a story from over 80 years ago. I hope my memory is that good, when I reach that age.
When Al was 5 he lived in Cambridge MA, right next to Harvard University. His other next door neighbor was an elderly woman by the name of Mrs. Healy. And on nice days Mrs. Healy would come out onto the front porch and sit in her rocking chair. And then she would take out a string of shiny beads. And begin to run them through her fingers. Her lips would be moving too. But Al couldn’t hear what she was saying. This fascinated the 5 year old Al.
So every time that Mrs. Healy came out to her porch with that string of beads Al was there too, just sitting on the corner of her porch staring. I’m sure it was very cute. There she was, rocking back and forth, lips moving, beads running through her fingers, with little Al looking on. Not really knowing what it all meant.
Mrs. Healy didn’t say much to Al but one day after getting up from the chair she walked over to where Al was sitting and she gave him the string of shiny beads. She died not long after that day. Al later found out that the beads were a Rosary, but he still didn’t know how to use them.
Not long after that Al and his parents moved to New York City and close to their new home there happened to be a Catholic Church. So one afternoon the whole family went into the church to speak with a priest: to ask him about the Rosary, how do you use it? Very soon after that encounter with the priest the whole family was baptized and received into the Church.
That man I anointed who gave me this story was Deacon Al Patrick, he died on May 21st in 2019. He died after living a rich Catholic life. He was a Deacon for 50 years and a Catholic husband, father, and grandfather. He was an evangelizer of the faith. He baptized, he preached, he taught the faith. He touched countless lives, bringing the light, and the peace, and the love of our Lord into many people’s lives. And it all began when an elderly woman, by the name of Mrs. Healy, without embarrassment prayed the Rosary in front a curious little boy.
In today’s Mass we pray, “Go out to all the World and tell the Good News.” And Mrs. Healy did just that, and she did it with her simple prayer, out in the open, for all the world to see. She was a missionary of the Catholic Faith. And it made a difference, what a difference it made.
This past Friday (19th of August) was the Feast Day of St. John Eudes. He was a French priest who lived in the 17th century. He was the founder of the Eudists, and did a lot of work in reforming priesthood and he was a great promoter of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The missions he ran in parishes would go for months at a time. Nobody tired of hearing him talk. He said something that has become my new favorite quote, “Our wish, our object, our chief preoccupation must be to form Jesus in ourselves, to make His spirit, His devotion, His affections, His desires, and His disposition live and reign there. All our religious exercises should be directed to this end. It is the work which God has given us to do unceasingly.”
To do this is to have the very life of Jesus Himself in me and in you. This is the supernatural life of faith, hope, and love. By this life, Jesus imparts His Spirit to me and to you. So that everything we do, we do with Him, in Him, through Him, and like Him.
As lay people you have a lot of opportunity and power to bring Jesus out into the World, to show the world Jesus, our Gate and Narrow Way, to show the world the reason for your joy. Be bold about it, don’t hide your faith, it’s a beautiful thing, it’s rich and inexhaustible. After this hour of Mass we still have 167 hours this week to fill with prayer.
Your homework for this week is to be caught praying. Like Mrs. Healy be caught praying.
Let us be great Saints,
Fr. Christopher J. Ankley