“I am poor, but I am rich. I have my children, I have a garden with roses, and I have my faith and the memories of those who have gone before me. What more is there?” ~ Pam Munoz Ryan
When I was first ordained to the priesthood, I didn’t know a whole lot of priests in the diocese. I had associated with some of them while I was a seminarian or a deacon. Other than that, the ones I had the most dealings with and most knowledge about were the pastors and associates that were assigned to my home parish as I was growing up. All the other priests were, for lack of a better word, “names”.
At all the parishes to which I was assigned, I maintained at the very least a “Pastor’s Page” in the bulletin. On that page, as I continue to do, I had a Memoriam section of all the priests and deacons whose death anniversaries were the week of the bulletin’s publication. I have to admit that, when I was younger, that memorial list was comprised mostly of “names”.
But now? The memorial list is more than names. Well over 50% of the priests and deacons listed weekly were people that I knew, some very well. I see their names and I don’t see merely names. I see people. I remember who they were, where they were assigned, and what they did. Many of them helped form who I am as a priest and set an example for me to follow.
There are many who have gone before us and who have touched our lives in all sorts of ways. Family and friends usually find themselves at the top of our lists. Colleagues find themselves there as well. They are all people who have influenced us and whom we remember fondly. Their examples make us want to be better and to do more for others.
How are we going to be remembered after we die? How do we want to be remembered? Are we going to be mere names or are we going to be considered examples that should be followed? These are crucial questions and ones that, depending upon how we answer them, will shape the direction we take in our lives.
We have the example of the saints of old to follow. They did their best to follow the example of Jesus Christ, just as we attempt to do. May our lives be filled with plenty of moments where we show others the depth of our love for the Lord and may we never hesitate to share our love of God.
FAITH ACTION: Thank God for the people who touch your life and ask God to help you be an example of His love for others.