All posts by Glenn Smith

My Letter to Billy Graham

This letter will have to be mailed “Special Delivery.”

Dear Mr. Graham,

I never knew you personally, and indeed, I never met you while you were in the world, but I thought it was a good time to write.  If you are where I think you are, you’ll be able to read this.

Congratulations on receiving your eternal reward!  I know that I’m assuming this is true, but it’s reasonable to do so.  After all, it was you who once said;

“I look forward to meeting God, face to face.”

That might seem presumptuous at first glance, but in another interview you added this important qualification;

“Well, I’m going to heaven not on my good works or because I’ve preached to all these people or read the Bible.  I’m going to heaven because of what Christ did on the cross.”

I wonder how many of my fellow Catholics. or other Christians, believe as you did, Billy?  To some, your statement might seem over-confident or simply wrong.  Yet, every time I perform a  “A Visit with St. Paul,” I proclaim what the Great Apostle himself wrote;

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God.  It is not from works, so no one may boast.”   –Ephesians 2:8-9

Rejoicing in the Lord (Phil.4:4)   and in the Gospel
Rejoicing in the Lord (Phil.4:4) and in the Gospel


Billy, some people might have a problem with what you evangelicals call a “saving faith.”  And that’s a shame.  It is the Gospel for which Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead, and woe to us if we spurn so great a salvation!

I write to you now, Billy, to thank you for not spurning the Gospel of Jesus.  St. Paul suffered much, and ultimately died for a similar proclamation of the Gospel.  It’s Paul’s consistent message which supplied some of your most powerful preaching.  Thus, I suspect that one of the first to greet you in heaven, was that former persecutor of Christians who met Jesus on the road to Damascus.

I didn’t always appreciate your work, Mr. Graham, while you were with us.  Many years ago, your name came up in conversation and a pastor with whom I was serving at the time, said,

” Billy Graham is doing God’s work.”

I was surprised.. pleasantly.  I expected criticism from a Catholic priest, and instead, heard the opposite.  It helped me to re-examine just who you were and what your ministry was.

Here’s another testimony; my wife, Maeve, was a young adult and growing in faith during her days as a missionary in Bolivia.  At that time, she read your book, “Living with Christ,” and it moved her deeply.  For her, this was a turning point in her walk with Jesus.

Many  Christians have derived help from your writing and your preaching.   Maybe someone reading this ‘letter’ will look up one of your books, or go to YouTube and find inspiration in your words.  All they need do is click on the words in green.

I ask  for your prayers, Billy.  We Catholics believe that those in heaven can pray for us, and indeed, we acknowledge a whole body of men and women recognized as “saints.”  Since you are now in all likelihood among that number, then I have no hesitation in requesting your intercession.  Please pray for us who profess to be Christian, that we may have the courage to proclaim the Gospel…with our mouths.  Yes, our actions count for something. But actions alone will not be an effective witness for Christ, if we never speak up and tell others just what it is we believe.  This is what St. Paul did.


"Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!"
“Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!”   –1 Corinthians 9:16


Billy, there is no mistaking one fact;

You preached the Gospel. 

Lives were changed.  Jesus entered the hearts of those who responded “yes” to your proclamation of the Gospel.  Thus, our world is a better place for your faithfulness to the call of the Lord.

Thanks, Billy!


…who by my faith in Christ and His infinite mercy, will see you later. 

How’s Your Hearing?

I lectored at Mass on the recent feast of St. Andrew the Apostle.   The first reading was taken from the tenth chapter of Romans, so  appropriate since St. Andrew was sent by our Lord to preach, and preach he did.  He proclaimed the Gospel as he hung on the cross… how’s that for apostolic ardor?

In his Letter to the Romans, Paul mentions various forms of the infinitive “to hear” at least five times.  For example:

“And how can they can believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear, without someone to preach?”    -Romans 10:14

Paul proclaiming the Good News
       Paul proclaiming the Good News

And some verses later;

“But not everyone has heeded the good news… thus faith comes through what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.”                           -Romans 10:16-17

This theme of “hearing” is taken up in the first Encyclical of Pope Francis, The Light of Faith;

“Saint Paul would use a formula which became classic: fides ex auditu, “faith comes from hearing” (Rom 10:17). Knowledge linked to a word is always personal knowledge; it recognizes the voice of the one speaking, opens up to that person in freedom and follows him or her in obedience. Paul could thus speak of the “obedience of faith.”    – P. 29

“It recognizes the voice of the one speaking,” writes the Pope.  This links up closely with Jesus’ words;

He talks to His sheep
He talks to His sheep

“…and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls  his own sheep by name and leads them out…because they recognize his voice.”   John 10:3-4

Which leads us to one of the great themes of Advent; waiting and listening for the Lord.  I know that the best way for me to hear the voice of Jesus is to read the Word, and take time to ponder it; to really listen.  The world, and my own inner ‘noise,’ can block out His voice, if I allow it.  Maybe you can relate?

Recently, my wife and I ended our cable TV service.  It was something we carefully discussed before finally “taking the plunge.” It has been just over a week, and we don’t miss it.  Not only that, but we’re experiencing more peace, and a greater intimacy with the Lord. The fact that we did this in Advent is a blessed ‘God-incidence.’ Where our TV used to sit, now rests our Advent wreath.  Each night, we’re dedicating special prayer time as we light the appropriate candle.  We consider the daily Mass readings and let the Word open up for us in all its power and peace.  In the silence, He speaks.

Let’s be honest.  So much of TV is distraction.  In fact, the world seems designed to create all kinds of ‘noise’ so as to drown out the one thing that we really need to hear.  But we do have a choice.

My wife and I are choosing to listen to Jesus.  It’s that simple…

…and it’s that hard.

COME LORD JESUS …and help us to listen!