An Irish Memory

I was 17 years old when I met him and I only knew him for two days. Yet, the memory of him warms my heart even now. He was a middle-aged priest from Ireland visiting the same Chicago seminary that I was. He had a stock of thick, red hair and a thousand freckles. His cheerfulness, laughter, and smile were contagious to everyone around him. His deep, Irish accent seemed to sing when he spoke and every room he entered seemed a little brighter.

Over the years I have forgotten the jokes he told and the stories he shared, but one thing he said still lives on in my mind. One evening one of the other teenagers visiting the seminary joked that our smiling "Saint Patrick" certainly didnít fit the mold of the solemn and serious priest. To this our new friend just laughed harder and said, "Well my boy if God didnít want us to be happy then why does smiling feel so darned good and frowning feel so darned bad?"

I took that moment with me and stored it in a special place in my soul. Even though I took a different path and didnít become a priest myself, the lesson I learned from that merry Irishman has stayed with me. I knew from that time on that God not only loves us, but also wants us to be happy in our lives here. We may face challenges, tragedies, suffering, loss, and eventually our own deaths. But with Godís love within us we can still choose joy, give joy, live in joy, and make this world a more loving and joyous place for everyone.

I never saw that angel from Ireland again. I am sure, though, that wherever he is right now, he is spreading joy and he is sharing love. That red-headed Child of God gave me a glorious example of how to live in the Kingdom of Heaven even while we are still here on Earth. Because of him I laugh more. Because of him I love more. Because of him I smile more. He was right too. Smiling does feel so darned good. May all of your days then be full of smiles.

~ Joseph J. Mazzella ~

[ by: Joseph J. Mazzella Copyright © 2010 ( -- submitted by: Joseph Mazzella ]

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