For those of you that follow me on Instagram or are my friends on Facebook, you know that I had the privilege of going to the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. The whole trip was colored by some of the most incredible experiences. Between playing worship music in a McDonald’s in Virginia, our group getting featured on Fox News walking down the streets of Philly, and seeing Pope Francis, that weekend will be one for the books.
A part of me wishes that I was writing this blog to talk about a remarkable story of how I
coincidentally met the Pope, or how he asked me to pray for him, or some other “one-on-one Pope
interaction”, but none of those things happened. There was something that I needed more. This past
weekend, I encountered one of the most joy-filled, Christ-like people I could have ever met: Msgr.
Malone. My words fail to express the humility, the joy, and faithfulness of a man so in-touch with the
Lord. In the midst of a weekend filled with people between the ages of 13-50 complaining of exhaustion, tiredness, and achy feet; a complaint was the furthest from this 91 year old man’s lips. Yes, if this life truly is like the race that Paul describes in Scripture (2 Tim 4:7), this man not only kept up with “the young people,” he outran all of us.
Take a good look at the picture above. There, you will see the smile that radiates and fills the
hearts fortunate enough to reside in its presence. It’s that joy that brings the Gospels to life for me. It is a joy that has been carved into who he is by the consolations and trials of a lifetime walk with Christ. His joy doesn’t come from a place free of suffering. It is so ingrained into who he is because of it. Msgr. Malone endures many daily sufferings; more than most would want to bear (and more than I am at liberty to publish here), yet he isn’t shaken by it. He can’t walk without the assistance of holding on to other objects or walking aids, and struggles to stand aright. However, when it’s time to speak the words of consecration in Mass, this handicapped, retired priest stands firm, as if his ailment has dissolved. It is as though a miraculous healing takes place for him at every Mass.
“Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange
were happening to you. But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly.”(1 Peter 4:12-13) This humble priest embodied these verses to me. This man gave me a visual, physical example of the rejoicing that is described in the Gospels. It is a joy that is bigger any plight, struggle, fear, ailment, handicap, or even sin abides in this man. I firmly believe I had the privilege of spending time with a living saint this weekend, and I can only pray that we all pursue Christ with as much fervor as Msgr.