Posted on Feb 6, 2021

7 February 2021

Some of you may remember that in 1985 Fr. John Rossiter, Ferdinand Roth, William Hammes

            Were killed at St. Patrick‚Äôs Church in Onalaska.

For those of us who knew Fr. Rossiter and the men killed with him it was a terrible shock.

Perhaps one of the most poignant moments for me as I watched the television coverage was an interview with Bishop Paul.

In the interview, Bp Paul was asked if this kind of violence,

particularly when done to a close personal friend didn’t shake his faith.

It was a natural question to ask.

We would have all been surprised if he had answered that it did.

Of course he didn’t say that.

Even though his voice was shaking and there was just the hint of tears for a close friend

He said:  “I still believe, God is my strength.”

Even though we expected that answer, it is remarkable

and that remarkability shouldn’t be lost on us.

How hard it must have been for him to face his own personal grief so publicly,

to be asked the ultimate question of faith

with camera and lights searching for the waiver of unbelief.

As I watched Bp Paul I could not help but think of the apostle Paul’s personal commentary in today’s second reading: Preaching the Gospel is not the subject of a boast.

I am under compulsion and have no choice. I am ruined if I do not preach it.

So this is what it means, this is the cost.

No matter how personal grief or loss,  No matter the hazards or pains

once you have experienced the Lord

there is no turning back unless you turn your back on him completely.

Bp Paul was for me a live rendering of what Paul was talking about.

I have to say that I wondered if I could be that way.

Maybe you are wondering too?

When  you are really up against it–just how strongly would you answer:

“I believe, God is my strength.”

I do believe that when we encounter the senseless, the tragic, the unspeakable

our faith is called into question.

We are left feeling angry, drained, empty and looking for answers.

I hope that I, and you can come through it saying:

“I believe, God is my strength.”