From our Pastors
As perhaps you have worked out by now, Fr Michael and I take turns writing the introductory notes to the Link. I am declaring this now because, like Fr Michael’s story last week about Buddy, this is a personal story.
When I was very young my parents would on occasions pack my then four siblings and I off to stay the weekend at “little grandma’s” - our diminutive maternal grandmother’s home. I loved those weekends and have very fond memories of playing in her yard, sleeping out on the enclosed veranda where all our beds were lined up military style, falling asleep listening to the traffic pass by on her busy street, sharing meals that she lovingly cooked, being bathed in what seemed then like her enormous iron bathtub, watching fascinated as she pedaled her old sewing machine... But my favorite memory is one Sunday morning.
When we stayed with “little grandma,” she would line up all five of us in height order, dressed in our best clothes, and lead us single file down Dulwich Hill Road to St Paul’s church. St Paul’s was much bigger, more ornate, and darker than our home parish church. Perhaps because it was associated with grandma’s spirit, it seemed holier in some way. Grandma was for many years the part-time housekeeper to the St Paul’spriests. And she instilled in us a quietness and decorum in church our parents never seemed to achieve.
On the particular Sunday morning I have in mind, she ushered us into a pew about midway down on the left-hand side of the church. I found myself kneeling next to her. I had managed to squeeze in close under her left arm as she was opening her handbag. From a fold in her purse she extracted a ten shilling note (the equivalent of about a dollar). Back then it was not an insignificant sum, especially to a nosy little boy who had never owned one.
I asked her what she was doing. “I always keep 10 shillings to put on the collection plate on Sunday”, she replied. I asked her why. She said, “I have found that if I am generous with God, God will look after me.” She then added words that have stayed with me all my life, “No matter how short (of money) I might be something always comes through.”
Our “little grandma” was a single-mother who relied on family and part time work raising three children through the depression and its aftermath. My mother recalls some pretty modest meals and tells how she learned to sew her own clothes watching her mother. I got the clear impression it was sometimes a struggle to not use that ten shilling note. And I invariably think of grandma’s witness when we read the Gospel about the “widow’s mite”.
It’s a story too that comes to my mind whenever I am tempted to get discouraged by all the great and terrible things that seem to populate our lives, no less in the Church as in society. Saint Mother Theresa of Calcutta sums up well what my grandma taught me that Sunday morning: “We can do no great things; only small things with great love.” It reminds me when I am feeling inadequate to tasks in front of me that I may not be able to change much but I can do small things with as much love as I can muster, even if, like “little grandma”, I don’t know I am making much of a difference at all. It reminds me just how far even a little bit of generosity can go.
Fr. Mark Lane, c.o. and Fr. Michael Callaghan, c.o.