Ulysses, Alfred Lord Tennyson
I ran a marathon last Saturday. I hesitate saying I did because I did so poorly. It didn’t go like I had planned. In fact, by mile 10 I had all but run out of gas, and as I watched the half-marathoners split off from my course, I yearned to follow. But I had much farther to run.
I am a young man. I turned thirty less than a month ago, and, if the Lord wills, there is much life left ahead of me. I know only a little about this race and the sorrows it can bring. I understand so little of it now and so little will I understand before I am old. I have had change thrust upon me and there are changes still to come.
But, I have always had my heroes.
As a boy I had many heroes: the boys basketball team from my hometown’s high school that went to state, the men I read about in Stephen E. Ambrose’s Band of Brothers, my own big brother. Through the years I have kept heroes, though, compared to those of my childhood, they seem pretty prosaic today: old men and old women who have stayed faithful to God and who have stayed faithful to one another; old men and old women who, in their old age, have not grown gray in their zeal for God or become wearied in working for the Church.
These are my heroes.
And, from this young man, on behalf of young men and women in the Church, I want to urge the old: Press on. Do not stop or change courses so close to the end of your race; stay faithful to God, stay faithful to the men and the women at your sides, and finish your race. There are others still behind you, looking to you for the strength to keep going.
Today, I am around mile 10 of my race. There are many miles left for me to plod and I know that I know less of this course than many of those running around me. And, as I look up ahead to those so close to the finish line, I see many still running, some struggling even to walk, some stopping, and some dropping out. I speak for a young Church when I say to the old—risking sounding audacious and impetuous in my youth—“Finish.”
Lord, give me this grace, and give all this grace: to run with endurance, to run well, and to finish. And when I grow old, may others look ahead to me, and watch as I lift my arms in celebration, having made it to the home stretch.