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Penna Emphasizes Living Life to Its Fullest Potential at Agape Latte

Students in Hillside Cafe on Tuesday night grew quiet as Tony Penna, S.J., examined the crowd.

“We all have ordinary faces,” Penna said. “I don’t see a Brad Pitt. I don’t see that. I just see very beautiful, but very ordinary faces. The ordinary face is the face of the world.”

Penna spoke to a full audience on Tuesday as the last installment of this year’s Church in the 21st Century Center’s Agape Latte speaker series.

Penna, associate vice president and director of campus ministry, said he has served many roles in the BC community over the past 30 years, and that he wanted to impart some wisdom to the audience before the end of the event. 

“I hope you take something home with you tonight,” Penna said. “I hope that you’re a little more full than when you came.”

Penna also spared no opportunities to crack jokes throughout the evening.

“This is kind of a late version of Agape Latte,” Penna said. “I guess I’m like the spiritual Jimmy Kimmel.”

Penna then recounted the story of Jesus’ resurrection to the audience to convey how “ordinary” people can make a difference.

When Mary first saw Jesus walking toward her after his resurrection, she didn’t recognize him and mistook him for a gardener, Penna said.

“He looks like an ordinary person,” Penna said. “And that’s part of the message of the post-resurrection story, that from now on, the ordinary face—the face of the gardeners of the world—is all we need to get it done.”

Penna went on to talk about a life-changing message he received at a bookstore in the 1980s, when he encountered a book called The Gathering of the Ungifted by John Meagher. Penna opened the book randomly to a line that has since stuck with him ever since, he said.

“‘You are a unique human experiment,’” Penna recalled. “‘Never before tried in human history, and when you’re dead, it’s never ever going to be repeated.’”

Penna emphasized that he, as well as everyone else, has a finite amount of time to live life to its fullest potential.

“We know that death is coming our way,” Penna said. “And we have a finite amount of time to get this experiment called ‘you’ cooked up the right way. Are you using the right ingredients? Are there the appropriate proportions?”

Penna also said that the right way for him, as a Christian, to live is by spreading God and goodness to those in need.

“The truth is, God’s work is now bequeath into our hands,” Penna said. “The question is, are you going to be generous enough to start spooning out the life that we have to those who need it more than we need it? And if we do that, well, we not only live a graceful life, we will die a graceful death of a spiritual child of God.”

April 28, 2024

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