Columnists Mark my words

Column: Who was that masked man?

by Father Mark Goldasich

The Christmas gift from my cousin in California was a simple one: a wildly colorful, hand-painted, wooden mask about seven inches high. On its back was a small piece of looped string, held in pale by a single staple, allowing the mask to be hung on a wall.

What made this mask special was that it was crafted in a poverty-stricken country, and the proceeds from its purchase went directly back to the artist. However, for over a week now, that mask has taken on an even deeper meaning for me. You see, painted in small gold letters on the front of it is a name: F. Fabius. Next to the name is where the mask came from: Haiti. My heart and mind have been with this unknown artist, since hearing about the devastating earthquake that shook that country last week.

I’ve been wondering: Who is F. Fabius? Is it a man or a woman? Does the artist support a family with this craft? Did the mask’s painter live in Port- au-Prince? If so, was this craftsman injured or killed?

Personally, I just can’t wrap my mind around what Haitians are going through right now. Can you imagine a bustling city reduced to rubble in the space of a minute or two? I can’t fathom what it would be like to see thousands and thousands of my fellow countrymen either dead or injured. How would I handle having no clean water, little food and no shelter? Suppose someone I knew was injured and there was no hospital to take him to, or no medicines to relieve the pain?

Last weekend, I apologized to my parishioners for once again coming to them to ask for a donation, this time via a second collection for Haiti. The week before we heard the archbishop’s annual appeal for the Call to Share campaign. All during the month of January, our Knights of Columbus council has been collecting items for a pro-life baby shower to assist families in a crisis pregnancy. And then, a couple of weeks ago, our youth group was asking for donations for prizes to be given out at its bingo fundraiser. I was concerned that people might feel a “generosity fatigue.” I needn’t have worried.

Honestly, there will never be a time — at least on this side of heaven — when people are not in need. And who better to ask for assistance than people of faith? I recently came across this little story that might explain why this should be so:

A famous heiress kept her priceless collection of jewels in the vault of a large bank. One of her prize possessions was a very valuable string of pearls. Now, it’s a scientific fact that pearls lose their original luster if not worn once in a while in contact with the human body. Therefore, once a week, a bank secretary, guarded by two plainclothesmen, wears these priceless pearls to lunch. This brief contact with the human body keeps them beautiful and in good condition.

According to the publication Uplift, “our faith is a lot like the pearl. It must be used in order to be useful. It must be worn out among the masses of mankind where faith and hope are needed.” (Found in Anthony Castle’s “More Quips, Quotes & Anecdotes for Preachers and Teachers.”)

I like the words “worn out” in the above paragraph. I believe that it’s critical for our faith to be lived out . . . courageously, tirelessly, and selflessly. In other words, it’s much better for our faith to be worn out, rather than to rust out. That’s particularly true with a situation like the incredible needs in Haiti.

I hope that you’ll take some time to read the articles on Haiti that we’ve compiled in this issue. I’ve learned a lot from them. They put a human face on the sufferings there.

Tragedies like the Haiti earthquake remove the masks — of skin color, nationality, social standing, indifference, isolationism, etc. — that we so often hide behind and remind us of our common bond as human beings and the drive that we feel deep in our hearts to help one another.

No, we people of faith can never tire of doing good, for we know that, ultimately, behind the mask of suffering, sorrow and need, there is always the face of Jesus.

About the author

Fr. Mark Goldasich

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