Some friends are temporary. Some are work friends. Some are good-time pals. But there is another kind of friend, more rare and precious. These are the friends chosen and ordained by God to accompany us here on this earth on our journey to heaven. Father Charles Szivos was one of those for me. (CNY, Obituaries, Sept. 13).
Best friends for 20 years, we met in the first days of seminary (he stayed, I left), and through the years remained loyal. Through good times and bad, Father Charlie was always there with a phone call, a smile, a story, a visit or an act of kindness.
Father Charlie wasn’t political. He would often chuckle at being overlooked. He didn’t brag or run after attention. He didn’t really own anything. He was kind. He would always put the other person first.
Father Charlie fought a brave fight against the aggressive diabetes that eventually took his life at age 50. We constantly reminded him to take care of himself. However, there was always one more person to help, even if it meant driving a seminarian to the hospital in the middle of the night.
Father Charlie loved being a priest. He loved the Mass. He loved freeing people like me from their sins. He remained faithful even when it must have been tempting to give up.
Father Charlie loved the saints. He also loved a prayer called “The Litany of Humility,” by Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930), and would pray it often. It contains a series of petitions, one of which was his favorite: “That others may be chosen, and I set aside…Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.”
Thank you, Father Charlie, for your life and your priesthood.