Spirituality for Today – April 2009 – Volume 13, Issue 9

Editorial – Bananas, Chairlifts, and Saint Paul

By Rev. Raymond Petrucci

The Depression was in full swing in 1936, but for James Curran, a bridge engineer for the Union Pacific Railroad, it was going to be a very eventful year. It could have been the uncertain times or simply the fancy of the active mind of an engineer; James Curran desired to create a system to carry bunches of bananas to a conveyer belt. As it turned out, it was not bunches of bananas but bunches of skiers that would benefit from the churnings of Mr. Curran's creative juices. His idea led to the invention of the chairlift. This is simply another illustration of how a determined effort to accomplish one task may lead to a very different result.

A black and white photo of the first ski chair liftWorld's first ski chair lift

The most monumental example of one these surprising ends occurred nearly two thousand years ago. On the road to Damascus, Saul of Tarsus, a true zealot in the persecution of those who chose to spread the teachings Jesus Christ, literally was swept from his horse by a dazzling display of divine intervention. The risen Christ confronted this enemy of all Christians and turned Saul's life around. He came to Damascus to persecute the followers of Christ and left to become Saint Paul – the great missionary of Christ.

The life of Saint Paul was changed in its direction and its destiny through his encounter with Christ risen, Christ the Savior. The quest of all Christians standing before the Easter event is the continuing renewal of the pursuit of the Christ-like life. For Saul it would take nothing less than a face to face meeting with the risen Christ to become Saint Paul. In truth, all the faithful require that same assurance and encouragement to engage in the duties of Christian living. Saint Paul tells that the real presents itself opaquely. The clarity yearned for is not here but the mission to be accomplished is here and now. As in the past, hatred and persecution of the Church remains in force. The thought of committing one's life to the belief that human existence is the product of a loving God and that that God calls each person to find eternal life in making God's love operative through their daily actions is odious to many. They prefer to live in landlocked myopia. Reality lies only in what their senses can grasp and the meaning of that reality is defined by them alone. Life, in their truth, is dust to dust.

One might agree that discipleship these days call not only for an inner calm and hope in the presence of the risen Lord, but also for an inventiveness of method and an acuteness of thought to the opportunities to proclaim one's faith. In the manner of Dorothy Day, one must be never be embarrassed to talk about God. The resurrected Christ is the source of power and wisdom that allows one to feed on heavenly food and to cope with life by seeing through life. The importance of the virtue of courage should not lack for emphasis. To be a person for Christ requires the immutable leadership expressed so eloquently by Woodrow Wilson, "Leadership does not always wear the harness of compromise. Once and again one of those great influences which we call a Cause arises in the midst of a nation. Men of strenuous minds and high ideals come forward." In the presence of internal fears and external threats, being a twenty-first century Christian will require Pauline strength and perseverance. As with Saint Paul, it is the abiding presence of the Christ of Easter that guides and strengthens souls on their journey to eternal life.

I join all of us at Clemons Productions in praying that the blessings of Easter may be you and your loved ones always.