Robert Kinghorn

Robert Kinghorn

Robert Kinghorn is a deacon of the Archdiocese of Toronto.

You can read his column, "The Church on the Street" in The Catholic Register.

You can contact him at robert.kinghorn@ekinghorn.com

Despite the promise of spring in the air, the day had turned windy and blustery, cutting sharply through the heavy jacket I reserve for evenings such as these on the street.

In many ways, gratitude is the basis of love.

One of my favourite authors is George Mackay Brown, who rarely left his native Orkney, a remote island off the coast of Scotland.

A few weeks ago, I was on an intimate online call with one of our political leaders. Well, when I say it was an intimate call, it was intimate in the way a private audience with the Pope is intimate, namely there were as many people on the call as the bandwidth could support.

By Christmas Eve the Advent wreath is aglow with the candles of love, hope, joy and peace, and we await the lighting of the White Candle which signifies the coming of Jesus into our world and into our lives. We pray again that this presence will become a reality which we can sense and touch, but for many it becomes an elusive dream that vanishes when they awaken from their restless sleep.

It’s a simple action, almost involuntary, and we seldom give it another thought. We are asked to dip into our deep pockets as we sit in the pews, and to spare some money for the less fortunate at Christmas.

There are some sounds you just don’t expect to hear downtown. Police and ambulance sirens intermingled with fights and screaming are commonplace, but as I passed a darkened lane, I heard the soothing sound of someone singing the 1929 chart topper, “Tiptoe through the tulips.”

If “The Church on the Street” were a weekly contribution to The Catholic Register, then I would frequently have the wrath of the editor on my shoulders as I submit, “Walked around downtown; nothing happened. The end.” Especially in these COVID-ridden times the streets are devoid of much of the activity that unfortunately led one journalist to write-off the area as “plagued by crack addicts, drug dealers and low-rent sex trade workers.”

We all want to be known for something. In moments of self-doubt and weakness we look back on our lives and ask ourselves, “Did my life have meaning to anyone? What will people remember me for?” Pastoral care is the ability to walk with others and to assist them in uncovering within themselves the Gospel that they have written through their lives.

Many years ago, I heard the story of a school principal in South Africa who quit his job rather than submit to the school’s apartheid policy of racial discrimination. His friends told him he was crazy, but he said, “One day I am going to meet God, and God will ask me, ‘Where are your wounds?’ If I reply that I have no wounds, God will ask me, ‘Was there nothing that was worth fighting for?’ I could not face that question.”

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