A witness can be so inspiring. It can motivate us to change our life, to set high goals, to keep pushing when it’s difficult. The witness of a “leader” can change the course of history. Great leaders make a difference. You often hear athletes mention the witness of their coach … how it motivated them to succeed. You see it in the military where strong and honorable men of courage inspired a whole generation of men. You saw it on 9/11. You see it in the witnesses of our faith. This is one of the reasons to read about the heroes of our faith and share the stories with our children and grandchildren.
I just read about Blessed László Batthyány-Strattmann. (Magnificat August 12, 2020) At the age of six he said “When I grow up, I will be a doctor and give free treatment to the sick and the poor. László graduated from medical school in 1900. He gave his thirteen children daily catechism lessons and prescribed for them the practice of concrete acts of charity. In 1915, László inherited the title of “prince” and moved his family to the castle of Körmend, just east of the Austrian border. He opened a wing of the castle to poor patients, treating them for the cost of an Our Father said for his soul. Each patient left with gifts from László: a book of spiritual reading and a picture of Christ. László gave God full credit for all healings that came through his care. At sixty, László received his own difficult diagnosis: bladder cancer. He wrote to his daughter Lilli: “I do not know how long the good Lord will make me suffer. He has given me so much joy in my life and now…I must also accept the difficult moments with gratitude.” His thirteen months of affliction ended on January 22, 1931.
Most witnesses are not known beyond a small circle of family and friends. Nevertheless, every witness can affect those around them.. can inspire them to keep moving toward their goal. Parents who remain faithful throughout the years of “good times & bad”…taking care of their spouse, caring for their children, being a faithful friend, being an example to acquaintances. I have a list of prayer cards from the funerals of friends. One special section is for those I call “Just Men”. These are men who were faithful over many years… none were famous or had extraordinary jobs or received great awards… they were just good men who followed Christ day in and day out. They inspire me to this day. Let me mention one of the many …. Bill Hoffman. Bill was a just man… a smart man, a good father to his children, including his beloved “special” Rich, a good and faithful husband, a servant of the Lord always available to help… generous, kind, humble…never putting himself first. Bill reminded me of St. Joseph. Bill was a witness and a leader. Thinking about Bill makes me want to keep fighting the good fight of faith. I hope he’s praying for all of us to be witnesses of our faith in the days that lie ahead.