Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Thought in Christmas Week from Mychal Judge

Before I read today's tragic headline "Chicago Fire Kills 2 Firemen, 14 Others Injured" this afternoon, I was thinking about all those who--against common sense and forgetting themselves--ran to the site of where the World Trade Center once stood on September 11th and for months afterward. Their hope was to find someone alive in that inferno, a grotesquely twisted monument to the emotions of hate and revenge. As Congress debates The 9/11 Healthcare Bill, trying to arrive at a just and wise way of helping those coping with the physical and psychic illness that entered their lives in the days that have followed their act of love, I remembered a few of the words of the first deceased person identified at the site after the attack, Father Mychal Judge. That Franciscan priest and New York Fire Dept. chaplain had rushed to the towers to help those in need with his calming, spiritual and very loving presence. He was speaking about firemen in the passages quoted below, but he could have been speaking about all of us, too. Maybe it would help a few of us this Christmas week to see Father Mychal's words:

"Up days, down days. Sad days, happy days. But never a boring day on this job. You do what God has called you to do.You show up, you put one foot in front of an other. You get on the rig and you go out and do the job, which is a mystery and a surprise. You have no idea when you get on that rig no matter how big the call, no matter how small, you have no idea what God is calling you to. But He needs you, he needs me. He needs all of us...Keep going, keep supporting each other. Work together...a difficult, difficult job" ..."Now I understand the words of St. Francis de Sales, 'He will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.'"

Below is a link to the documentary, Saint of 9/11 (2006), which was directed by Glenn Holsten and produced by Brendan Fay and Malcolm Lazin. That title, I suspect, would have made this man--an alcoholic, a flawed and very human person--laugh. Yet he spent his best hours on earth ministering to those rejected by the world and his church and remembering those in need, whether they were living in hope or despair. You don't have to share his beliefs to be impressed with this individual--though I like to think he may have whispered in the ear of some of those in our government who hesitated to assist those who tried to help nine years ago. :


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