Pennies From Heaven

by Richard Leary, C.P.

The economy of Jamaica, West Indies is in shambles! A large bank collapsed in 1996 and people were unable to withdraw their deposits. The entire financial system is in precarious condition and is calling for a government "bailout" at taxpayers' expense.

In 1995, paper currency of small denominations was withdrawn from use and coins, which last longer, were substituted. Coins with new designs replaced the former 10- and 25-cent coins. The five-cent coin is no longer minted, but the one-cent aluminum coin is still legal tender. However, it is used mainly as a washer for zinc nails when roofs are built. Every day, people throw their coins on the streets and few bother to pick them up. I do. And I encourage children to collect and save them, even though they seem almost worthless when a child's lunch costs about 40 dollars.

In bygone years, money had more buying power. I recall the great variety of penny candy on display in shops. We even had "The Penny Catechism." I still remember Fr. L. Feeney's nostalgic poem entitled "Wealth," published in his collection "In Towns and Little Towns."

You can buy a rubber ball for a penny.
Oh, the wonder of it all for a penny,
Or a whistle or a gun,
Or a sugar-coated bun.
You can have a lot of fun for a penny.

You can wear a jewelled pin for a penny!
And you're fifty dollars in for a penny!
You can find how much you weigh,
Read the gossip of the day,
And a music box will play for a penny.

You can drive away the night for a penny
With a stick of candlelight for a penny.
When the circus comes in June
You can buy a toy balloon,
Send it floating to the moon for a penny.

All the pleasures, who can guess, for a penny!
Who can count the happiness for a penny?
Why this striving after gold?
Life is yours to have and hold,
You can have your fortune told for a penny!
Pauline JaricotAn Anniversary

These thoughts come to mind as we commemorate the 175th anniversary of the institution of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith, which is credited to Pauline Jaricot, a young lay woman from Lyons, France.

This simple method of fund-raising and prayer was not burdensome, but it focused people's minds and hearts on the missions, and had profound and lasting effects on spreading the Faith.

Pauline died in 1862 and her cause for canonization was introduced in 1930.

More about Pauline Jaricot

Fr. Richard Leary, Passionist, has served on the Jamaica, West Indies mission for 20 years.

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