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

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.”

At school I was told that before the advent of radio and television, the great novelists such as Charles Dickens would write their books to be read around the fireplace in the evening. In so doing they would make their chapters short enough for an evening’s read and closed with a cliff-hanger.

I have always wondered about the names they choose for sports teams: the Vikings, the Giants, the Predators. Vicious sounding names that strike fear into the hearts of the opposition.

Often, we do not see the softer side of people’s nature as they put up a facade of toughness and independence. This is especially true on the streets where the law of the street is, “Don’t show weakness, don’t show compassion.”

It was a different time and a different crisis, but in the small village of Bronte, Ont., work was hard to come by in the early 1950s.

Driving downtown, the weather forecast came on the radio: “The temperature tonight is expected to plummet to a low of minus-14 degrees with a windchill factor making it feel like minus-25. The health department has issued a warning that at these temperatures frostbite to exposed skin can occur within minutes.”

I was driving to Nova Scotia with my wife Ria several years ago when we stopped at a garden centre. Since I cannot tell a weed from a wallflower, I hung out in the knickknack section where people can find garden signs that say things like, “I don’t remember planting this.”

As I write this it is the feast of the Holy Innocents (Dec. 28), the memorial day for children who endured the wrath of King Herod as he set out to ensure that the Light of the World would never be allowed to shine in the darkness of his kingdom. As it was 2,000 years ago, so it often is today.