Monsignor Harry J. Byrne, JCD * * * Comment/

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Location: 3103 Arlington Avenue,, Bronx, NY 10463, United States

June 5, 2008


It has been a while since I've used subways and buses. The subway steps are too steep; crowded buses require standing for too long a period of time. My travel is now by cab. My Metro Card is no longer my badge of New York identity. The old talkative cabbies of legend were chiefly Irish and Jews. Then came the Soviet immigrants, who did little to encourage the accustomed amity of New Yorkers towards newcomers. They were in a word - dreadful! Surly and angry, they drove cabs like bulldozers. The tip was never enough! The new generation is fine: Hispanics seem fewer, probably moving up economically. Most seem to be from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Yemen, and other Muslim countries. My experience has found them invariably polite and effusive in thanks at my invariably generous tip. They have a tough job.

The other day I had a Haitian driver. My Roman collar opened up his comments on his church experiences. He was Catholic, but only went to church for baptisms of his friends' babies and special days like Christmas and Easter. He went to Protestant, especially Pentecostal, services. He liked the freeflowing sermons and hymns. He did not like the practice of tithing, which they encouraged. He thought the pastors were driving big cars and living in expensive houses.

But he also had his criticism of Catholic churches. If we have the love of God, he opined, and of our fellow human beings, there should be a spontaneous, joyful outpouring of that love that immerses those who give it and those who receive it. You shouldn't even have to think about it. It should be impulsive and have its own energy to show it for what it is. There is no need of talking constantly about obligations to do this or to do that. Its force is to be from within, like music and art. True love of God and of neighbor should just burst forth with a surprising power that comes from being with Jesus!


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