Fr. Britto's Blog

The Present

As my time with you is coming to an end, I tend to get pensive. I often reflect on how I have led the parish and how I have carried myself in each and every situation. I wonder whether I treated all my parishioners with love and compassion. I examine myself to see if I gave my best to this community. More often I wonder about the future. Sometimes I get a little anxious, unable to wrap my mind around what awaits me in a month or so. I have to admit that I am tempted to worry about the future rather than enjoy the present or agonize over the past.

From time to time, all of us can fall into the fundamental human temptation: to worry about the future instead of living in the present moment. In some sense we are like little children. As a child, I was always looking to the future because the present was never good enough. When we are little children, we imagine how great it will be when we grow up. We want to be adults and do what we want. When we were in school, we waited anxiously for the arrival of our summer vacation.

I remember the time when very few people had cameras or brought them to church for weddings and baptisms. Now there are so many flashes going off at the wedding that we cannot even concentrate. I am amused and sometimes a little annoyed that people are so worried about taking pictures that they do not participate in the celebration. How can people attempt to preserve the memory of something that they never experienced? They are so taken up with preserving the memory that they miss out on the actual experience.

Our market culture is always telling us to wait for the next thrill or excitement. The present is not good enough. Many people are also unhappy in the present but fantasize that they would be happy in some hypothetical future. If we cannot be happy at the present moment – with all its negatives and deficiencies – we will never learn to be happy in some imagined idyllic future.

As human beings, we are destined to live in time. All we have is the present. The past is gone, and the future is uncertain. Too many people live either bogged down by the weight of the past or elated by some imagined utopia in the distance. All we can lay claim to is the present, in all its crude reality. We need to embrace it, cherish it, and make the best of it. How often I hear parents of little children saying that they would love to freeze time and keep their children at the present age. We don’t have that luxury. However, we can hold on to the present moment and make the best of it. We can ensure that we do not miss any significant phase in their lives and be present to them. 

The Early Christians thought that Jesus would return soon. So much so, many of them stopped working and were idly waiting for Jesus’ Second Coming. Paul chided those Christians and asked them to get on with their lives. Writing to the Thessalonians, Paul said, “If anyone does not work, he should not eat.” The best preparation for meeting Jesus when He returns is to live in the present. There is a story told in the life of St Aloysius Gonzaga. Someone asked St Aloysius: “If an angel were to appear to you to tell you that you had just one hour to live, what would you do?” St Aloysius is supposed to have replied, “I would continue to do what I was doing.” If we live right, we don’t have to change frantically the course of our lives. We will continue to live in the present. I want to enjoy the next five weekends I have with you. I want to cherish each and every moment.

In this connection, I would like to leave you with the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Finish everyday and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This day is all that is good and fair. It is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays.

Let us thank God for today!

Who is Fr. Britto?

Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.

After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...

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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

Mass Schedule

UC = Upper Church

HFC = Holy Family Chapel

Monday - Friday

6:25 am (UC)

8:30 am (UC)

Saturday

8:00 am (UC) - weekday Mass

4:30 pm (UC and HFC) - vigil

Sunday

7:30 am (UC)

9:00 am (UC and HFC)

10:30 am (UC and HFC)

12:00 pm (UC)