Albert Einstein had it right, I think: Time IS relative. Or at the very least, it seems to be speeding up as I grow older.
That thought occurred to me when I looked at the calendar this morning, and realized today is the 10th anniversary of the death of my dear friend and mentor, Fr. Jim Krings.
Hard to believe it’s been 10 years. But the startling realization prompted me to recall just what a wonderful blessing Jim had been in my life. I even dug up the reflection I wrote about him at the time of his death.
If you knew Jim, perhaps remembering him will bring a smile to your face today…just as it did to mine.
A Pilgrim’s Progress: Remembering Fr. Jim Krings
It’s a curious feeling, saying goodbye to a wonderful man like Fr. Jim Krings. On the one hand, we are heartbroken…because we will dearly miss his hearty laugh, his extraordinary preaching, his remarkable wisdom, his loving friendship.
On the other hand, we are filled with joy…because our friend Jim has now received the greatest gift of all, the thing his own heart most desired — a bear-hug from Jesus, full union with the Lord.
One of my fondest memories of Fr. Jim is the petition he always prayed at daily Mass, remembering “those who will meet Christ in the mystery of death today.”
His simple prayer was — and is — a profound reminder: We are meant to love the life that God has given us here on earth; but we are not meant to cling to it. There’s more ahead. Jesus beckons us forward, and He asks us to trust in the coming joy which we cannot yet see.
Jim knew that we are fundamentally a pilgrim people: that this life — with all its joys, all its sorrows — is not our final destination. He spent his own life contemplating this mystery…and sharing what he discovered with all those he met. That’s what made him such a great preacher, I believe: He walked the talk. He loved life, and yet willingly embraced the mystery of death.
As I meditate on the passing of this wonderful man, I am reminded of one of my favorite passages from St. Augustine:
“Let us sing alleluia here on earth, while we still live in anxiety, so that we may sing it one day in heaven…in full security. God’s praises are sung both here and there. Here they are sung by those destined to die…there, by those destined to live forever. Here, they are sung in hope… there, in hope’s fulfillment. Here, they are sung by pilgrims; there, they are sung by people living in their own country. So let us sing now, not in order to enjoy a life of leisure, but in order to lighten our labors. We should sing as pilgrims do. We should sing, but continue our journey. Sing then, but keep going.”
Surely, then, we can sing of Fr. Jim on this bittersweet day. We can sing WITH him, too — for this joyful pilgrim, our dear friend, is now living in his own country. Farewell, Fr. Jim — and please keep the light on for us!
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.