Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

What I Have Seen and Heard for January 21, 2010

Published January 21, 2010  | En Español

Last Thursday evening as I was leaving Los Angeles, after celebrating the funeral Mass for Father Gerard P. Weber, the priest who had baptized me and then continued to serve as a mentor, friend and model for my priestly service, I approached the Delta ticket agent, silently hoping that the current increased security protocols would not slow my passage through LAX. The lovely lady smiled at me and then, without prompting, began reciting the Our Father. She said the whole prayer flawlessly as the people in back of me must have been wondering what this was all about. Then she told me that she had attended Catholic schools and learned that prayer there. She seemed unfazed by the people who were obviously waiting their turn at the ticket counter.

Today it is becoming increasingly rare to find people who have the nerve to express their faith publicly! Catholics, along with many other Christians, have become somewhat timid about letting the world know that we belong to our Church or have Christian values or are proud of our religious heritage. We sometimes consider our Faith to be merely a private matter that ought not to be imposed upon others in the marketplace. I didn’t ask the ticket agent to pray—she simply wanted to show me that her Catholic school education had not abandoned her, that what she learned remained with her. Her evangelical witness was startling in its spontaneity and refreshing at the same time.

I suppose that such displays of faith might annoy some people. I have no idea what those in line behind might have been thinking as this ticket agent offered that prayer—and in not too subtle a voice! But we both concluded with Amen. While such behavior might not be the approach chosen by everyone, it did prompt me to remember this fine lady throughout the rest of the day and to reflect on how such witness of one’s Faith is a needed reality in our world—and not just at the ticket counter.

I recalled another scene from our own Cathedral from several weeks ago as I gazed from the cathedra on a young father that I have come to know well and his young son attending Sunday Mass. The father is an accomplished businessman here in Atlanta and the young boy appeared to be about 13 years old. The eyes of the youngster gazed with rapt adulation at his dad who held his hand during the recitations of the Our Father—under most circumstances, teenage boys are not that much into hand-holding! But the most touching image that I took away from Mass that day was the sight of that young father kneeling in prayer after Communion and the gaze of utter admiration that the young man cast upon his dad at prayer. His father who means so much to this adolescent paused in gratitude and adoration of the Father who fashioned us all. Surely, the lessons of faith that the young dad strives to share with his children took flesh in his humble posture of prayer and thanksgiving.

Parents provide their greatest and most lasting faith lessons by their actions. It is not enough to teach your children the words of prayers, but you must also let them see you at prayer. The words of the Our Father were confirmed for that young boy when he witnessed the earthly father that he loves so deeply in deep conversation with the heavenly Father, who loves us all more than we will ever be able to understand. Maybe some day in the future that youngster will himself be a successful businessman and father and he will look back on his own father and his good example as a cherished lesson in faith, and he will be inspired to provide the same for his own youngsters!