Clutch It!
Off the Wall, March 24,

The story I’m about to tell is partially true. The name has been changed to protect the guilty. The story I’m about to tell is a conglomeration of many peoples’ situations tied into one tale. However, there is only one person to whom I spoke, and it will be his case I will be talking about all the time. So one can’t say, “Oh, I know who Pee Vee is talking about. I can tell it’s Clarence Fineycoo from Miller St, Anywhere, U.S.A.” Don’t bet on it!

Here’s how the story goes.

I was walking through Legion Keener Park one day when I saw this middle-aged man sitting on a bench not far from Memorial Stadium. I greeted him, but got not so much as a look in my direction. I decided here and now I had to try to get him to open up. So, I said “Hi” and asked his name.

In a very soft tone he said, “Eric.” I then stated, “Do you need someone to listen. I’m good at that and will spend as much time as you need to get what’s bothering you out in the open.”

“You’d do that for me?” he said. I grinned, sharing a warm smile. I wanted him to feel as though he was a unique creation of God. With that, he became an open book.

Eric spilled his guts, as the saying goes. He told me he was abused as a child and pushed around all of his growing years. All through his life, he has had constant struggles with life’s situations, so nothing’s been easy.

The one thing I am happy about is that he did believe in God. But he felt He had abandoned him, leaving him in such misery. Upon departing from where I saw him sitting, I hoped that he wouldn’t give up on his Savior, for He still and always will love him despite the issues that may come his way.

One Sunday, I recognized Eric as he entered Holy Family Church in Latrobe. I was just happy that maybe he was going to seek out God’s counsel instead of mine. I don’t know if he continued going there or not, as there are other churches in the area he could visit.

Another time, I encountered him at Roger’s Memorial Park, Latrobe. Again, I sat down beside him and he told me all that had transpired and that he not only didn’t feel the love of Christ, but felt pulled down by everyday setbacks.

It was then I told him to go down to St. Vincent de Paul and look for a crucifix, maybe 18 inches in length. “Take it in your hands, pull it close to your chest, and feel the impression of that carving of love that dwells in Christ for you. Clutch it! Say a little prayer. State you love Him and that you want Him to fill you full of love not only for yourself, but as well as for others. If you have the faith that you shared, believe He will bless you with love. You must unceasingly have faith!”

Eric isn’t the only one who was not feeling the love of our Redeemer, but many so-called Protestants and Catholics, as well, who have parted from their respective parishes. I used His Name in capital letters above, because Our Savior did die a horrible death upon the cross for each of us to liberate us all from our sins. Such love we can never repay.

If everyone reached out to our Lord and asked Him to fully fill us with His love, He will do as asked. If for no other means, I got Eric to turn to God, His Son and the Holy Spirit, a man experiencing very difficult times, how hard is it for you, one who, most likely has it much easier, to do the very same thing, now, let me ask you that?

I’m sure we all know Eric’s, whether they are in Chicago, Pittsburgh or Greensburg. You could be one, too. Whenever you feel emotionally or physically stressed as he did, clutch a crucifix as he did. Wrap your hands around it, drawing it to your chest, feeling the carving of Jesus. Know beyond any doubt His love is true. He originated it, personally taught it, and showed it by His death and resurrection. With the help of the Holy Spirit, He is still giving it. What’s holding you back from asking?

- Paul J. Volkmann
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