American Red, White & Blue
O'Malley was pastor of a small parish in Grass Valley,
California. One evening while he was preparing his
homily for the coming Sunday, his telephone rang.
weather was stormy, and all the electrical lines were down.
A voice on the other end of the telephone said, "Fr.
O'Malley, I am calling from the local hospital and we have a
terminally ill patient here who is asking to see a priest
about the last rites, can you come quickly?"
trip was 30 miles, the going was rough as trees and power
lines were down. The nurse met Fr. O'Malley at the door, and
thanked him for coming. The person who wants to see
you, Father, is an alcoholic, but he is still coherent but
is slipping fast. Fr. O'Malley asked the nurse what the
patients name was. She answered, the hospital calls him Tom.
O'Malley went into Tom's room and said to Tom, "I was
just passing thru and thought I would visit you before you
give me any of that garbage", Tom replied, "I
asked that nurse to call someone to give me the last rites
because I know my time is done and its my turn to go. Now
get with it."
you like to make a confession?" the priest asked Tom.
not" Tom answered. They talked for a long time and
occasionally Father would ask Tom if he was ready for
confession. After some time Tom told Father that he
had done something in his life that was with him every day
and he did not feel that God would forgive him.
Finally after some time, Tom agreed to tell the priest his
story. "Thirty-two years ago, two months and
eleven days ago, I was working for the railroad. It happened
in a bad storm. It was two days before Christmas and
the whole crew was drunk. Someone had to go out and
push the switch for the train to go northbound. I guess I
was more drunk than the rest because I pushed the switch in
the wrong direction. At 45 miles per hour the freight train
slammed into a passenger car at the end of the next crossing
and killed a young man, his wife, and their two daughters.
I have had to live with that all of my life," Tom said.
was a moment of silence as Tom's confession of this tragedy
hung in the air. After what seemed like an eternity,
Fr. O'Malley gently put his hand on Tom's shoulder and said
very quietly. "If I can forgive you, God can
forgive you, because in that car were my mother, my father
and my two sisters.
still find it difficult to forgive anyone?
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