“Three hundred years ago a prisoner condemned to the Tower of London carved on the wall of his cell this sentiment to keep up his spirits during his long imprisonment: ‘It is not adversity that kills, but the impatience with which we bear adversity.” — Fr. James KellerJames Keller was born on this day in Oakland, California in 1900. Today is the 113th anniversary of his birth.
The fourth of five children born to James and Margaret Keller, James grew up in an Irish Catholic household. He joined St. Patrick’s Seminar at Menlo Park, California and became interested in the Maryknoll missionaries in 1918.
He entered Maryknoll and was ordained August 15, 1925. But, instead of going to China, he spent the next 20 years on assignment in the United States recruiting students and raising funds for Maryknoll missions. [Christophers.org]
Eventually he began to see that the people who came to his talks “could play a missionary role themselves,” [Ibid] beyond prayer and financial support for the organization. The group’s goal was ” to motivate men and women in all walks of life to bring Judeo-Christian principles to bear on the world around them. ” [Ibid]It was loosely organized with “no formal organization, no memberships, no dues. ‘The reason for this somewhat unusual formula.'” This grass roots group choose a Chinise proverb for their motto “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” [Ibid]
Keller emphasized that each person has a God-given mission, that each person can make a difference, and that constructive action can work miracles.
Newsletters, books, news paper columns, radio and television programs followed. Here’s Hope In Action, a meditation that he wrote:
Hope in Action
Hope looks for the good in people instead of harping on the worst.
Hope opens doors where despair closes them.
Hope discovers what can be done instead of grumbling about what cannot.
Hope draws its power from a deep trust in God and the basic goodness of mankind.
Hope “lights a candle” instead of “cursing the darkness.”
Hope regards problems, small or large, as opportunities.
Hope cherishes no illusions, nor does it yield to cynicism.
Hope sets big goals and is not frustrated by repeated difficulties or setbacks.
Hope pushes ahead when it would be easy to quit.
Hope puts up with modest gains, realizing that “the longest journey starts with one step.”
Hope accepts misunderstandings as the price for serving the greater good of others.
Hope is a good loser because it has the divine assurance of final victory.
“In the world you will have trouble, but be brave: I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33)
Fr. Keller died on February 7, 1977.