Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
I can hear the tick tick tick of the internal clock – hard to do since most timepieces are digital. As the poet John Donne says: “…for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” Tomorrow, the tolling begins as I reach the ripe old age of 65. Now, there are those that would say that 65 is not that old! However, in dog years, I am 455; however you spin it, that’s old!
The life expectancy of males living in the United Sates is 77.4 years and 82.2 years for women. Now I ask you, is that fair? Many of my female friends would offer that it’s God’s payment for women having to put up with men. They may be right; after all, they deserve at least five years of peace and quiet!
A bishop submits his retirement at the age of 75, so if the Pope lets me retire, that will give me 2.4 years of leisurely living. As some would say, just stop and smell the roses. Unfortunately, I’m allergic to fresh flowers and, as most priests, I will probably die with my collar on (as opposed to boots).
I must admit that I have become much more aware of the preciousness of time. There are many who would sooner give a person $20 than an hour of their time and as the years progress, time becomes even more valuable. Imagine, when you go to see a movie, read a book or attend a play, you’ve directed hours of your life on earth toward an activity which has taken you away from other important experiences. Therefore, we all hope that the movie is good, the book enjoyable or the play interesting.
The fact is, we have only so many minutes, hours, days and years left in our life and it’s critical that we evaluate how we spend that time. Developing a prayer life means having an active relationship with God. God gives us the sense that eternity awaits us. We won’t be counting the minutes in heaven. So, spend some minutes with God.
I also am always so thankful for those who share their time with the Church or in charitable actions for their brothers and sisters. There is little doubt in my mind of the importance of those tasks. I never take for granted those who take the time to do good for others and, in a certain sense, I know that God will reward them for those efforts (Matthew 25).
Rarely do we take the time to share our feelings with those who are closest to us, of their importance in our lives. Sure, we say the perfunctory “I love you,” but is the heart really expressing this, as opposed to just the routine movement of the lips? Since I have 12.4 years left to my life, more or less as God sees fit, let me say to my family and friends, new and old, that “I love you” and my life has been enriched by your friendships. This comes from my heart not just from my lips or pen. You have been and continue to be God’s gift to me. I am a better man, a better priest and a better bishop because of you.
I also want you, the readers of this “Love One Another,” to know that I greatly appreciate you taking the time to share a portion of your precious time with me. Thank you for that gift and for your desire to follow Jesus’ command to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the March 11, 2014 "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.