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Practical Wisdom | October 5, 2021

There are various quotes from distinguished historical figures that resonant with us throughout our formative years. In college, we heard from our philosophy teachers the famous Socrates quote: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” They were encouraging us to question those things that we do, examining how they contribute to a life lived well.

Archbishop Listecki


Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
 

 

There are various quotes from distinguished historical figures that resonant with us throughout our formative years. In college, we heard from our philosophy teachers the famous Socrates quote: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” They were encouraging us to question those things that we do, examining how they contribute to a life lived well.
 
In Political Science, we heard a quote attributed to Sir Edmund Burke (quite possibly to John Stuart Mills): “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” We must confront evil and cannot remain silent in the face of tyranny. It is this challenge that has furthered the support of law and good order.
 
And from the literary school we heard from Sir Walter Scott (often wrongly attributed to Shakespeare) “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” A very classy way of saying honesty is the best policy. Lying has consequences which often are destructive.
 
On Sept. 29, I was invited to deliver the invocation for the Christ Child Society luncheon. The Christ Child Organization is a group that is dedicated to expressing their love for the Christ Child by service to all God’s children. Their guest speaker was Mr. Ulice Payne, Jr.
 
I have had the privilege of meeting Mr. Payne several times. He is well known for his commitment to various charitable and civic organizations. He has built a very admirable reputation in Milwaukee’s recent history. He was a successful member of the 1977 Marquette National Championship Basketball team under the direction of Legendary coach Al McGuire. He had a successful career in the legal field and was a CEO for the Milwaukee Brewers, a member of various Boards currently including WE Energies. With this vast experience, it was certainly interesting to wonder what he would choose to address.
 
It was a pleasant surprise that he chose to speak about the wisdom of his grandmother who had a profound influence on his development. He related an incident through which he experienced a life-shaping challenge. He worked hard as a young boy and saved his pennies. He decided to purchase a box of “Good and Plenty” candy. He earned it and he possessed it. He enjoyed the candy and when his brother asked for some of the candy, he refused in a manner of get your own. His grandmother overheard the encounter and asked Ulice to hold out his hand. Ulice, when your hand is open you are ready to receive more, but if it’s closed then you will never receive more than what you possess. Needless to say, Ulice shared that day with his brother and continues to have his hands open to sharing in every aspect of his life. Ulice’s grandmother’s simple quote “if your hand is open you will receive more” reflects generosity breeds more generosity. Her words were as effective as the great thinkers and shaped a life.
 
All of us have had those formational moments through the simple statement of a family member or a friend. I carry with me a statement made to me by my father. I had finished eating and my father said to me “Jerome, feed the dog.” I protested that I didn’t want to do it now, but would get to it later. He said in a simple tone of voice: “Jerome, did you eat?” Now throughout my life I hear those words echoed in my memory whenever I just don’t feel like doing something which I know that I should do for the good of the Church, for family, or for friends. I recognize that my life is full, and I need to do whatever I can to help feed others.  
 
Now Ulice’s grandmother and my father may never make the book of Bartlett’s famous quotations, but their simple practical wisdom shaped the lives of those they loved. It was obvious to me that in their own way they were helping us to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

 

Note: This blog originally appeared as the October 5, 2021 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.

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