Goodness tied to holiness and what's in our hearts
Terrorist attacks on the United States brought forth many examples of goodness
By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor
What is goodness?
"I equate holiness with goodness," said Jeannine Goggin. "Goodness is not determined by good deeds, but by the quality of goodness that reigns in our hearts."
Goggin, a member of the authorship team for Silver Burdett Ginn's new parish religion series and former consultant for Children's Catachesis in the Diocese of Green Bay, gave the keynote presentation at last week's Sacrament Catechesis Day at St. Mary Church, De Pere. In her presentation, Goggin told scripture based stories and shared personal accounts to define goodness, discuss the Baptismal call to witness our faith and encourage the call to new life.
To define goodness, Goggin told the story of the woman at the well, based on Jn 4:5-42.
"We use the image of the fountain to represent eternal life," she said. "When you pour soda into a glass and the carbonation causes it to overflow at the top of the glass that is God's goodness. The goodness of God keeps going."
The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 brought many stories of true goodness, said Goggin. She shared the story of 10 colleagues at the World Trade Center who carried a wheel chair bound co-worker to safety.
"That is goodness at its premium," she said. "Sometimes goodness does not happen because of selfishness or people are unconcerned or they don't want to decide."
Goodness is a choice, explained Goggin, who holds a master's degree in pastoral studies from Loyola University in New Orleans.
"We may have commitments to our family, ourselves, success, life, God, security and approval," she explained. "Goodness is the ability to choose one over the other."
Goodness can be found in unlikely places, she continued. Goggin pointed to correctional facility residents who train dogs or raise crops as examples of unlikely sources of goodness.
"Goodness requires a public posture," she said. "To be good, you have to be good to someone else."
Goggin told the story of the man born blind based on Jn 9:1-41 to illustrate our baptismal call to witness our faith.
"How do we light up our Baptismal commitments?" she asked. "Who are the poor people in our world? Who are the people in need? In the tragedy at the World Trade Center 15,000 children lost one parent and 1,500 children lost both parents. More than 3.5 million people in Afghanistan are on the verge of starvation. Through God we must step forward in faith. Poverty is the worst form of blindness. We must make the injustice visible."
Goggin closed with the story of the raising of Lazarus from Jn 11:1-45 as an example of our Baptismal call to move from darkness to the light of new life.
Sacrament Catechesis Day, which attracted 110 participants, also included a gathering, prayer and two rounds of sectionals featuring presentations on Baptism, the Eucharist, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Anointing the Sick, initiation of adults, initiation of children and serving people with disabilities. The day, sponsored by the diocesan Department of Total Catholic Education, is partially funded through the Bishop's Appeal.