God’s Blessings

8 11 2009

Once a Catholic, always a Catholic.

To say that I strayed from my faith as a practicing  journalist would be an understatement. But, no matter how angry I got at God, I have never stopped believing in Him.

There are times when I reflect on the summer in New York as a pilgrimage. My grandfather, Joseph Arthur McDonald, was a devout Catholic, raised in the Bronx, the son of Irish immigrants. Like most young men of his time, Joe served in the European theater during World War II.

When I would visit him at his home in Apalachicola, visits that were far too infrequent considering our close proximity, I would always ask him about the War, but would never get much.

My grandfather did not like to talk about those times. All he would really say is that war was not pretty and the French were very dirty people.

And despite his upbringing, Joe rarely spoke fondly of New York, at least to his grandchildren. He considered it an unsafe place to live.

“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

New York had many temptations. Temptations of pride, lust and greed were everywhere.

And so was the Church.

In New York, unlike the South, Catholics were a majority, thus I did not have to look too hard to find a place to pray.

I decided to visit the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the West Village. It was a beautiful church with long wooden pews, stained glass windows and high arching ceilings.

The congregation was primarily Hispanic with mass in Spanish and English.

I asked one of the nuns if I could speak with a priest for confession. She told me to wait and she would see if she could accommodate my request.

The nun disappeared into the Church office and I took a seat in one of the pews, my bag, which was becoming heavier by the day, at my side.

It was a weekday morning and some of the City’s homeless had found refuge inside the church’s pews. After a few minutes, the nun returned with a priest who was willing to listen.

What we talked about was — and will remain — between the two of us and God.

I left the church feeling resolved, with more steam in my stride. For some reason, God had kept me away from harm as I wandered the streets of New York.

I never felt in danger, no matter how deep I traveled into the City’s networks. Whenever indecision or fear tried to creep in, Goede’s words would come to mind.

“Be confident, walk tall,” he told me some years back.

I was blessed to have people like Goede, who cared enough to offer guidance from afar during this difficult time in my life.

Blessed to have men like Omar, Shaun and Barry to offer support in ways I cannot begin to describe.

And blessed to be a child of God.

Once a Catholic, always a Catholic.

Peace Be With You.

 

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