Posted November 09, 2011 in Memorials:
Right Place, Wrong Reason

by Paulette Curran.

When I think of Fr. Paul, it is not his words that I mainly remember. There are, however, some that I remember well, some that influenced my own life with God and were, I think, an expression of who he was.

Here they are:

Catch God loving you.

 (And a variant of that:) At the end of the day, ask God how he loved you today.

Many years ago, Fr. Paul told me (and others) this over and over. I have to admit that, except for the days he told me, I didn’t do it.

But I remembered it, and at a much later date, I decided to do it every day. It made me aware of all kinds of things God was giving me and doing for me—things I had never noticed—and much more aware, generally, of God’s ongoing action in my life. Not surprisingly, it made me much more grateful to Him.

God likes a good fight. Fr. Paul told me this one at a time when I was angry with God but afraid of telling him so. I suspect it’s something he learned through his own struggles.

I’m always in the right place for the wrong reason.

This is probably Fr. Paul’s best-known expression, one which he used often. He always smiled when he said it and usually chuckled just a little. And he had so many stories. Here’s just one:

"I was driving home and passed so-and-so’s house, and I just felt moved to drop in. So I went and knocked on the door. She opened it and said, "Oh, thanks be to God! I need to talk, and I was just praying to God to send someone!"

We joked about that gift in Fr. Paul, but it certainly showed his obedience. Whether it was an assignment by his director or a movement of the Spirit within or the duty of the moment, he didn’t wait to know why before he did it.

And because he was obedient, God could get him where he wanted him to be—and work through him.

Jesus held me by one hand, and Our Lady held me by the other. I tried to shake them off, but they never would go off.

I can’t remember whether it was his 90th birthday or the 60th anniversary of his priesthood, but whichever it was, he was not well enough to attend his own party.

So, many of us dropped in—the care-giver told us "just for a few minutes"—and this is what he said when I went to his room. It’s certainly not the only time he said this. I suspect it’s his summary of his whole life.


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