What I Have Seen and Heard
Published: January 7, 2010
“Notable passings in 2009” is the general category that nearly all media outlets use when cataloging their retrospectives on the deaths of the rich, powerful and famous people who have passed away during the previous year. When I typically check through the names of those that are to be found on those types of lists, I am increasingly aware that the people who make those lists are generally not the folks that I either would recognize as famous or well-known—with some notable exceptions, of course. I am also sure that the people who have died during the past year that I personally remember when looking back over 2009 would not make any media register of the rich, powerful or famous. But they are cherished by me and by many of you as well.
I remember Father Jim Miceli who recently completed his journey of faith and who remains dear to the hearts of the people of St. Mary’s Parish in Rome and to his priest brothers who will continue to mourn his loss. Then there are the many parishioners who have brought so much life and joy to the faith communities of our Archdiocese who have died during the past year. Perhaps there is a teacher or an attorney who was instrumental in your life, whose passing didn’t make one of the lists of notable deaths in the media. But you and your family still grieve their loss. Add to that personal list a relative, neighbor, childhood friend or co-worker who may not have been rich, powerful or famous, but whose goodness and love made a big difference in your life. 2009 saw the loss of countless such people who have enriched our lives and yet whose passing may not be considered as worthy of public note.
Then there are the published lists of good events and the contrasting inventory of awful events that took place during the past year. Here again, I find that I am not in sync with most of those lists either. Usually many of the fortunate events that have occurred according to these public reviews are not matters that I think may have been all that fortunate—and a great many of them I would definitely move to the other category as disastrous occurrences.
It is clear that I am not in agreement with the opinions of the editorial staffs who propose and publish these lists. And for that I am most grateful since it reminds me of St. John’s frequent admonition that those who believe in Christ will regularly find themselves at odds with the world in which we live. They belong to the world; accordingly, their teaching belongs to the world, and the world listens to them.(1 John 4:5)
The Christmas and Epiphany season is a time when the Church listens again and again to the writings of St. John the Evangelist because his teaching is so gentle, convincing and attractive—and I might also say timely—in light of the concerns that we face even in today’s world. Our Catholic faith often pits us against the prevailing standards of our times as it has done since the very beginning of the Church. So don’t be dismayed or disappointed that you disagree with many of the opinions that seem to be so widely accepted and promoted. It has been thus from the time of St. John, and I suspect will continue to be until the Lord comes to claim all those who belong to Him. I wish a very happy and grace-filled New Year to all of God’s people in North Georgia!