{Song: Nobody Knows The Trouble I See, ...} The slaves shipped over from Africa to North America had a faith and patience that is hardly understandable in our modern day and circumstances. It allowed them to suffer through indescribable pain and tribulation and to survive, with their lives and existence tied to the land. Somehow they were able to find solace and relief and hope in singing.

The first reading talks of vanity, or smoke, nothing but smoke, a vice not to be found in slaves, whether they be modern day young boys in India or other lands. In the second reading the temptations to all kinds of vices and the giving in to them are listed by St. Paul and found over all. They are mentioned in the gospel reading and are found in modern day corporate life or in government bodies or in unsettled forms of family life. Jesus speaks out against greed and avarice. It is all too easy to succumb to the enticements offered in these temptations.

An awakening to a sense of values and virtues can possibly be found in the wrenching pain caused by the death and loss of a family member through suicide. The person's life cannot be made up for. Long periods of time on the part of loved ones left behind go by in dealing with anger, regret, depression and frustration. The passage of time does not heal, but helps bring about that the pain of loss no longer dominates the lives of loved ones.

On another level there is the horrendous pain caused in familes in the far east whose members have been killed by drone attacks or military ventures and referred to as "collateral damage". Closer to home, families here suffer the tragedies of death through automobile or bike accidents or drownings or incurable diseases or fires. The words in the responsorial psalm speak to the souls afflicted by these losses of loved ones.

On a third, but maybe not so drastic level but with its own pains, is the loss of belief in , or acceptance of, on the part of our children, our own life-long existence in the Church we call home. In my own family, my two sisters and I had been reared in a loving but rigorous acceptance of church life. This meant my serving 6.30 am Mass on freezing wintry mornings and then having to attend the school Mass at 8.00 in the accompaniment of my two sisters. We all were on deck to attend the Marian devotions every Tuesday evening as we were growing up. Sunday parish Mass was always without question. The three of us have since spent our adult lives loyal to our faith because of, or in spite of, all this. As the oldest of my Irish Mother and German father, I was destined for the priesthood. My two sisters however resisted the call to convent life.

But now decades later, our children, eight among the three of us, early on have given up on the Church as we know it. I had often said that religion or church life would never tear our family apart, as I had seen it done among our family's relatives. Judith's and my two children, even with their eight years of Catholic education, said early on, "We're done with the Church." They are now in their thirties, well grounded in positive attitudes towards life and making a go of it. The four of us have loving relationships. In the national gatherings of married priests, it has been found that the children of such marriages, as in our own case founded on strong Christian faith, are less likely to remain in the Church than children of other families.

We have not experienced the wrenching pain of loss of life that the parents and family members mentioned earlier have gone through. In our own case, during my earlier active ministry I had been primarily engaged in Catholic high school teaching, counseling, and athletics. Because of this approach on my part, our children today are doing in their own way the pastoral work of helping others that I had not engaged in during those 13 years. The loss of life of a loved one is more painful than the loss of a loved one who has cut ties with the Church. Blessings come in various guises for which we are thankful. Amen

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