Celebrating my birthday today. I’m remembering fondly that Father Michael characterized me as a seeker. I was complimented, though I never quite understood exactly what he meant. So often I thought the whole key to what I might be seeking was just something indefinable in Father’s holy soul-something that was right before me always,yet elusive . There was the grace of God, yes, but also something unique in Father M’s personality, perhaps his upbringing, his education, his adventures in the world—something that truly set him apart. I was convinced that I needed to question him about how his life had unfolded and what led him to the Lord. I thought I would find this great answer that would be an inspiration for my life. Well, it was like pulling teeth…..worse.Father Michael loved to talk, but not so much about himself, particularly his past. So I’m still wondering, still trying to put together the meager pieces he revealed. I’m trying to find…but I’m still a seeker…..
Soooooooo, I’m indulging myself today…..going to the casino! Father Michael would have been so excited for me! Also, as a treat, I’m putting lovely Alanna Boudreau’s song “Solitudes” on here . She is so full of faith and writes such thoughtful, beautiful songs. Her blog is also very well written; check it out:
“In genuine gratitude toward God man becomes beautiful. He emerges from immanence, from the confines of ego-relatedness and enters into the blissful giving of himself to God, the quintessence of all glory, into the realm of goodness and true kindness. In gratitude, man becomes great and expansive. Blessed and victorious freedom blooms in his soul.”
Just some short thoughts today….the quote above is from the book, The Art of Living by Dietrich von Hildebrand-his essay on gratitude. I’ve had this book since the early ’90s. I keep it bedside and continue to find new meanings and nuances in all its essays.
This quote has always been one of my favorites, but in re-reading it today, I am struck by how it captures Father Michael and his ever-present gratitude. Who can ever forget all the times Father Michael said “God is so good”? He was constantly expressing his gratitude and calling our attention to do the same.
Good and kind, great and expansive….. beautiful. I am grateful to have seen the truth of this in Father Michael. Blooms of his soul!!!
And that brings this Shakespeare quote to mind:
“What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an Angel! in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals!”
These pictures were taken on October 4, 2012….just a few months before Father Michael received his cancer diagnosis. I had seen him after Mass the day before. He had told the story of his mother and the family’s sheets. Very touched, I’d written a note thanking him and he responded the next day with:
I will bless the animals at 2:30 pm. Why don’t you bring your dog? I have mass at noon.It is the feast of St.Francis.Have the best day ever.
Well, my dog Becket was very old, 14 years- with hip problems. I tried to get him into my car which was in the garage, but he just couldn’t jump into the back seat! Becket weighed 140 pounds, so I also had trouble lifting him. It was a lost cause. I had started early, but I didn’t make it to the blessing that day. Later I told Father M what happened. He wrote:
Pet blessings are not restricted to St Francis Day. You can bring him any time I am there and I will give him a blessing.We had a good crowd of pets yesterday. The children absolutely love it.
So on October 5, I experienced a ‘drive thru’ blessing. I was able to get Becket into the car easily from the height of the curb in front of my house …..a little miracle. Father Michael was waiting for me as I drove into the St Vincent parking lot. He told me “Don’t worry about getting Becket out of the car. Just roll the window down and I’ll sprinkle him”.Father Michael addressed Becket by name and Becket turned to look at him attentively. We chatted afterward. Father Michael said, a little wistfully “he seems like such a nice dog….is he a good dog?” ” Yes, he certainly is” I said. And again I thought of how Father Michael would have loved to have a dog. Father was so happy doing this- just as he looks in the pictures. Without a doubt,it was a delight to him .Father Michael then said “Well, I’m glad I got to bless him. You’ll see, he’ll feel better now.” He knew that Becket had been struggling at times with arthritis and doggy old age ailments. Becket did seem much more energetic for some time afterward ! Becket died in his sleep in July 2013.
Bittersweet memories today….but I’m so grateful I have them!