By David M. Carollo –
I have traveled the world and seen the great edifices erected by tradesmen who meticulously applied their skills, leaving their mark for others to marvel at: the Colosseum in Rome, the Pantheon in Greece, the grand skyscrapers which define the skylines of major cities. In many cases, several generations of workers continued the projects started by those who preceded them. To appreciate the anticipated finished product, an eye to the future was a necessity. Perhaps their grandchildren were among those who benefited from their dedication. This hope and vision for the future as well as a desire for later generations to share in their accomplishments, I believe, drove most to strive for perfection. Certainly
, some worked strictly for a paycheck – or however compensation was made – but most took pride in their work. That is the real legacy of craftsmanship.
When I was a kid, I was always fascinated with construction and demolition. I had an Erector Set, the predecessor to Legos. I enjoyed coming up with new ideas, constructing from a concept and then dismantling the structure, as I needed the pieces to begin my next design. A good number of my ideas would most likely not stand up in the real world, but in my mind, these were masterpieces. I believe that most people look at their work in that fashion. Similarly, we build our lives over many years. Like a building, stone by stone or beam by beam, we put together a life’s legacy. It is amazing how we can spend a great amount of time erecting a structure, using the best design techniques to do so, but the destruction of it can happen in an instant. It takes years to build what can be torn apart in a second.
This world and everything in it, including earthly life itself, is temporary. The grandest of human accomplishments can be gone in an instant. Suddenly called to judgement, there is no explaining away our misdeeds. We pray for all and that they are prepared to stand at the judgement seat of God. Acts of war and terrorism have destroyed both buildings and lives in an instant. I watched in horror as the attacks of September 11th took place. Without warning, numerous lives were taken while buildings were destroyed. How many on that fateful morning were ready to meet God? Life is fragile and we need to prepare every day for that moment when we will be called to account for ours. We know not the time or the place. Although there are deathbed conversions and, I imagine, deathbed rejections of the faith, we will most likely finish our lives the way we live. I was taught by my parents and the religious sisters in school to always be in the state of grace. Our eternal disposition depends on how we leave this world.
The Gospel story of Lazarus and the rich man reminds us that we can get lost in the trappings of the world. I do not believe that an account of the rich man’s death is documented, but it is certain that he was in comfort at one point and in torment in another. With the tables now turned, he looked to Lazarus who resided at the bosom of Abraham and asked for relief from his difficulties: “Please bring this word to my brothers so that they will repent and avoid this fate.” In response, he was told, “Not even if a man should rise from the dead would they believe.” (c.f. Lk 16:19-31) Being made to understand that it was impossible to interact between them, he comes to understand that his situation is permanent, established by his disposition at death.
As a builder, I will always have my eye on technical accomplishments, and probably will for the rest of my life. I do hope however that I never lose sight of the real prize in this life which is preparation for the next.
I am just wrapping up my work in Fatima where the General Assembly of the World Apostolate of Fatima International has concluded. My 14 years as a trustee has come to an end. In my three 4-year terms, the last one extended by two years due to the pandemic, we saw great growth internationally. Seven of the nine members left the board due to term limits, and we handed the governance over to a great group representing all parts of the world. From both rich and poor nations, our representatives are a statement of the universality of our Church and apostolate. We pray for the continued success of this apostolate, which is still Our Lady’s Blue Army.
God bless you and Mary keep you in her Immaculate Heart.
David M. Carollo is the executive director of the World Apostolate of Fatima, USA/National Blue Army Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.