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SEARCH FOR GOD
by: Father John Powell, SJ
Associate Professor, Loyola University in Chicago

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 them.'"
"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 them."

"Ooh .... 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.

 
LIVES OF THE SAINTS

OCTOBER 1
ST. THERESA OF THE CHILD JESUS
St. Theresa, often called the Little Flower, was born in Normandy, France, in 1873. 

OCTOBER 3
ST. GERARD OF BROGNE
St. Gerard was born at the end of the ninth century in France. 

OCTOBER 4
ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI
St. Francis was born around 1181. As a young man in his Italian hometown of Assisi.

OCTOBER 6
ST. BRUNO

St. Bruno was born around 1030. This founder of the Carthusian order of monks .

OCTOBER 6
BLESSED MARIE ROSE DUROCHER

Blessed Eulalie Durocher was born in 1811 in Quebec, Canada.

OCTOBER 7
OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY

It was St. Dominic in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries who encouraged everyone to say the Rosary.

OCTOBER 8
ST. SIMEON

St. Simeon lived in the first century. In Luke's Gospel, chapter two.

OCTOBER 9
ST. DENIS AND COMPANIONS

St. Denis is very popular in France. In fact, he is considered the patron saint of France.

OCTOBER 9
ST. JOHN LEONARDI

St. JOhn was born in 1541and became a pharmacist in Lucca, Italy.

OCTOBER 10
ELEVEN MARTYRS OF ALMERIA, SPAIN

The Spanish civil war began in 1936. It has been described as a struggle between atheism and belief in God.

OCTOBER 11
ST. KENNETH

St. Kenneth who is sometimes called St. Canice or Kenny, lived in the sixth century.

OCTOBER 12
ST. FELIX AND ST. CYPRIAN

Sts. Felix and Cyprian were African bishops who lived in the fifth century.

OCTOBER 13
ST. EDWARD

King St. Edward was one of the best loved of all the English kings.

OCTOBER 14
ST. CALLISTUS I

St. Callisturi, the great pope and martyr, lived in the first part of the third century.

OCTOBER 15
ST. TERESA OF AVILA

St. Teresa was born in Avila, Spain, on March 28, 1515.

OCTOBER 16
ST. MARGARET MARY

St. Margaret Mary lived in the seventeenth century. She is the famous French nun to whom Jesus showed his Sacred Heart.

OCTOBER 17
ST. IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH

St. Ignatius of Antioch has been well-known since earliest times.

OCTOBER 18
ST. LUKE

St. Luke is generally believed to be a gentile doctor.

OCTOBER 19
ST. ISAAC JOGUES, ST. JOHN DE BREBEUF AND COMPANIONS--THE NORTH AMERICAN MARTYRS

Over three hundred years ago, six Jesuit priests and two holy laymen, all from France, died as martyrs here in North America.

OCTOBER 20
ST. PAUL OF THE CROSS

Paul Danei of Ovada, Italy, was born into a family of merchants in 1694

OCTOBER 21
ST. HILARION

St. Hilarion lived in the fourth century.

OCTOBER 22
BLESSED TIMOTHY GIACCARDO

Joseph Giaccardo was born on June 13, 1896, in Narzole, Italy.

OCTOBER 23
ST. JOHN CAPISTRANO

St. John Capistrano was born in Italy in 1386.

OCTOBER 24
ST. ANTHONY CLARET

St. Anthony was born in Spain in 1807.

OCTOBER 25
BLESSED RICHARD GWYN

Blessed Richard was a Welshman who lived in the sixteenth century.

OCTOBER 26
ST. EVARISTUS

St. Evaristus lived in the second century.

OCTOBER 27
BLESSED CONTARDO FERRINI

Blessed Contardo was born in 1859. His father was a teacher of mathematics and physics.

OCTOBER 28
ST. SIMON AND ST. JUDE

These two apostles of Jesus are honored on the same day.

OCTOBER 29
ST. NARCISSUS

St. Narcissus lived in the second and early part of the third centuries.

OCTOBER 30
ST. ALPHONSUS RODRIGUEZ

St. Alphonsus, the Spanish saint, was born in 1553.

OCTOBER 31
ST. FOILLAN

St. Foillan was an Irish monk who lived in the seventh century.

 
ABOUT ARCHANGELS
SAINT MICHAEL
St. Michael the Archangel Story
History of St. Michael the Archangel Prayer
St. Michael the Archangel Prayers
St. Michael the Archangel Apparitions
The Chaplet of St. Michael Archangel
Novena to St Micheal the Archangel
Litany of St. Michael the Archangel


SAINT GABRIEL

St. Gabriel Prayer

SAINT RAPHAEL

St. Raphael Prayer
 
PHOTO OF THE MONTH


Tour of the Relics of the Passion
(International Center for Holy Relics)
www.HolyRelics.org

 
REFLECTIONS

“Jesus’ Baptism”

Why did Jesus, the sinless one sent from the Father in heaven, submit himself to John’s baptism? John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3). In this humble submission we see a foreshadowing of the “baptism” of Jesus bloody death upon the cross. Jesus’ baptism is the acceptance and the beginning of his mission as God’s suffering Servant (Isaiah 52:13-15; 53:1-12). He allowed himself to be numbered among sinners. Jesus submitted himself entirely to his Father’s will. Out of love he consented to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins. Do you know the joy of trust and submission to God?

 
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