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Precious Life

Five years ago I lost a priest friend and mentor. I was thinking about him just today. Fr Tom Enright was our neighbor. I got to know him when I came here to St Paul nine years ago. He was not merely an acquaintance; he was my occasional spiritual guide and trusted confidant. When you are a priest and are used to hearing the confessions of others, you look for a wise, older priest who can elicit trust to be your confessor. He was that priest for me. I used to go to him for confession. He always gave me solid spiritual counsel and encouragement. He had been a pastor in two different parishes and had a lot of experience leading congregations. When I had a doubt or a question regarding my role as pastor, I could always call on him. Over several years, he had been serving as an associate pastor at Our Lady of Ransom in Niles.

On August 10, 2013, Fr Tom suddenly passed away. I had talked to him the previous Sunday. In fact, I had gone to him for confession. Probably most of you do not know that I have a pacemaker. Several years ago my cardiologist discovered that I had an electrical block in my heart. The only way to keep my heart ticking, he said, would be to insert a pacemaker that will provide the electrical pulses necessary to keep my heart pumping. After nine years, the battery was running out and the doctors had to put in a new one. My medical procedure took place at Lutheran in early August. Whenever I have to get on an international flight or undergo a medical procedure, I like to go to confession – just to be on the safe side. Fr Tom heard my confession and then gave me the anointing of the sick. I was deeply touched by his priestly ministry. He even called me two days later to check on me and asked me about the procedure. He was such a caring man.

When one of our parishioners told me on August 11th that Fr Tom had passed the previous day, the news shook me up. I have been thinking about him all these days. He certainly had some health issues. Yet his sudden passing made me wonder about the precariousness of life. One moment we are here and the next moment we are gone. In our day to day life it is so easy to take our lives for granted. We somehow foolishly believe that we will be here forever. The medical procedure that I underwent also made me think along the same lines. Without this device inside me I don’t know whether my heart would keep beating. Every heartbeat is a gift for me.

If we all stop and think, we will realize that our life is a precious gift. Every breath, every heart beat, is a gift from our loving God. We need to develop a deep appreciation for the gift of life. Time is more valuable than money. It is through the use of our time on earth that we prepare for eternity. The time we have on this earth is limited. That is why we need to use carefully the time that God gives us.

Instead the world around us is ready to distract us in a million ways. You might have heard the news. Some time ago the Chinese government was launching a 24-hour cable channel so that people can sit around the whole day watching Pandas play. It is so easy to lose ourselves in numerous trivial pursuits. We get sidetracked by so many sideshows that we can miss the main event.

The summer is almost coming to a close. This week our children will return to their classrooms. Our lives will revert to their normal routine. As we begin another year, can we all resolve to use our time well? Every new day that God gives us is an opportunity to do good for others, to love a little more and to draw a little closer to the Lord. Hopefully we can set some priorities. The amount of time we assign to something tells us how important that thing is for us. In what area of our lives shall we invest the majority of our time – our pursuit of holiness, our families, and our service to others?

St Theresa of Avila, one of the women doctors of the Church, said, “Life is to live in such a way as not to be afraid to die.” Great saints knew what St Theresa was talking about. They had no fear of death because they had lived well. With his characteristic humor, Mark Twain also said something wise: “Let us so live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”

Enjoy the last week of summer. I look forward to seeing all of you around our campus.

Mission Statement: As children of God, living in a Catholic community of faith, we are united by the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Aware that all we have is gift and grace from our Heavenly Father, we strive to give of our time, talent and treasure to build His kingdom on earth. We live this mission, challenged by the Word, nurtured by the Sacraments, and enlivened by the Spirit, to serve our brothers and sisters in peace, justice and dignity. All are welcome on this journey.

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Contact Information

St. Paul of the Cross

320 South Washington Street
Park Ridge, IL 60068


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Phone: (847) 825-7605
Fax: (847) 825-5186

Mass Schedule

Sunday

7:30 a.m. - Upper Church
9 a.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel
10:30 a.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel
12 p.m. - Upper Church
5:30 p.m. - Upper Church

Monday - Friday

6:25 a.m. - Upper Church
8:30 a.m. - Upper Church

Saturday

8 a.m. - Upper Church
4:30 p.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel