A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Fruits of the Holy Spirit: Gentleness

by Maria Kennedy

by Maria Kennedy

Kindly, amiable, mild, kind or tender temperament. Oxford dictionaries.com

The Holy Spirit gently calls us away from our sinfulness and into a fuller life. We are all sinners and we all need to be gently coaxed to the right side of the ledger in the fullness of Christ.

“Barbara come and listen to this. I want you to hear this amazing story about what happened to this priest when he was in the seminary.”

Barbara sat down at one end of the table while Roger adjusted his reading glasses at the other.

As a young seminarian I was taking a short-cut through an alleyway back to the seminary one night, when I was accosted by two hooded youths demanding money. One brandished a knife and threatened to use it if I didn’t hand over my “stuff”. I gave them my cell phone and wallet. The two youths ran off. Much relieved I knelt down and gave a prayer of thanks as well as a prayer for the two youths—Dear Father, if I can help them in anyway, I am your humble servant.

About a fortnight later there was a knock on the seminary door and a young man who I’d never seen before handed over my wallet and cell phone claiming he had found them under a hedge. I may not have recognised his face but I did recognise his voice. He was one of the two thieves and he was now very unusually returning my stolen goods. Not quite knowing what to do, I ask him inside for a coffee. That’s how it started. Over the course of the next six months that young man, his name was Paul, continued to visit and we became friends. When Paul said he wanted to be a mechanic, I was able to get him a scholarship, through a member of the parish, that covered his first term fees.

As it turned out, Paul graduated from his mechanics course the same year I took my final vows for priesthood. Paul had admitted to me he was one of the two thieves but this is what he said to everyone at my ordination. “I want to give my heartfelt thanks to my friend Sam. Not that long ago I stole from him but when I found out he was a priest in training I felt so bad I returned his goods. That’s how we met. I didn’t know it at the time but he recognised me. Instead of throwing me out like I deserved he invited me in. He gave me food and drink and, more important than that, he listened to me. He let me get a few things off my chest. He treated me kindly, and over time he gently brought me back to a life worth living. He believed in me. He gave me a chance. Father Sam you will make a great priest. I have every faith in you.”

But I had a surprise for Paul as well and this is what I said back to my good friend. “When I doubted my calling to the priesthood and was thinking of giving up this young rogue came into my life and gave me back my belief in my calling to be a priest. I couldn’t leave the seminary in case he turned up and he had no one else to talk to. I couldn’t have lived with myself. Paul is talking like I was helping him but, believe me when I say, he was helping me so much more. The Holy Spirit drew us together and breathed life into both of us.”

Roger stopped reading and looked over to Barbara. “Pretty amazing stuff, eh.”

“To think everything started so badly and ended so well. Whoever thought gentleness could be so powerful.”

“I suppose we need to remind ourselves from time to time we are pretty fragile beings. It doesn’t take much to knock us about.” Roger closed the magazine and put his reading glasses back in their case.

“I’d say that seminarian is on his way to being a very good priest. We could do with a few more like him.”   

The Return of the Prodigal Son Rembrant 1636

The Return of the Prodigal Son Rembrant 1636

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