Some time ago, a young couple waited very anxiously for the birth of their second child. Because of a genetic blood disorder, this pregnancy was high risk. The couple spent many moments together praying for their unborn child’s health and welfare. Their 5-year-old son, Jason, also prayed while he waited with much excitement for the arrival of a little brother or sister.
When the unborn baby was sufficiently developed, Mom was induced and young Madison was born! Immediately after her birth, it became apparent that Madison would need a blood transfusion. Because of the blood abnormality, Jason was the only one in the family who could give Madison the much-needed transfusion.
In the waiting room of the hospital, dad sat Jason in one of the large chairs and began to explain what Madison needed from him. As Dad spoke, Jason’s eyes got bigger and bigger. When dad was finished, he said, “Buddy, do you have any questions?” Jason said, “A few.… Will it hurt?” With that, dad looked up at the doctor standing behind him. The doctor said, “All you will feel is a prick in your arm for just a second. That prick is really quick.” Jason, looking up at dad and the doctor, continued, “If I don’t do it, will Madison die?” The doctor whispered, “Probably, son.” Jason then said, “Ok, Dad. I love Madison, my sister, enough to give her my blood.”
Jason was put on a gurney, and he was pricked, he didn’t even wince. Dad was standing near him and said, “You are so brave, my son!” As Jason watched the precious red liquid leave his arm and begin to fill up a plastic bag, tears began to form and wash over his cheeks. He looked up to his attentive father and said, “When is it going to happen?” Confused, Dad said, “What do you mean?” Jason continued, “When is Jesus coming for me?” “What?” Dad asked. “I am giving my blood so Madison can live. You said that. I know that I can’t live without blood. When am I going to die?” It was now Dad who had tears in his eyes. “Oh no, son. You will not die because you gave your blood to Madison. The doctors will not take that much blood. You will be Madison’s brother forever as well as my teacher about the true meaning of love.”
I could not help thinking about this story as I begin reflect upon the Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Archbishop Sheen was a radio talk-show host as well as a television star from the 1930s to the 1950s. His television program, Life is Worth Living, aired on Tuesday nights at 8:00 p.m. and had an audience of 30 million people. According to Wikipedia, he received 8,500 letters weekly from his fan base and received an Emmy Award for his efforts. Time magazine called him “the first ‘televangelist.’”
You might be wondering how Venerable Sheen, an Archbishop from New York, and the Diocese of Harrisburg intertwine. Well, on October 30, 1973, Archbishop Sheen was invited to address the Greater Harrisburg Chamber of Commerce. The Catholic Witness was present when he stood in front of more than 900 people and said, “I am going to talk to you about a common subject in America – one that is very much misunderstood – love.” Because of modern technology, you can view the very same address by Fulton Sheen on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-vrnkIa2T8.
The Patriot–News quoted the Archbishop on October 31, 1973, using these words, “Love is not as simple as we think. We don’t realize the depth to which it can go. But agape – the sacrificial love – that we all look for in our hearts … our hearts are not perfect in shape and contour – there is a small piece missing from the body of every heart. I think there is a reason for it. When God made the heart, He found it so good, so perfect, He decided to keep a small sample for himself. Now you could never love with a whole heart on this earth. You could never love with a whole heart until you went back to God to recover the part that He has been keeping for you for all eternity.”
Doesn’t this make you pause for a moment? What he said so many years ago as still relevant today as it was back in 1973! We experience sparks of love from others every now and then. Jason understood it, and because he did, so did his dad!
It is my hope that during the 150th anniversary of our beloved diocese, we too experience a spark of divine love and share it with others.
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness