Home for a Year Now.…

Fra Angelico Update
Fra Angeli­co Update

 It’s been a year and yet in some ways, it seems like yes­ter­day. Tonight at St Vin­cent Fer­rer church, we will cel­e­brate a memo­r­i­al Mass in hon­or of Father Michael. As hap­py as I am that Father Michael is in Heav­en, it still sad­dens me that he was lost to us so soon. And per­son­al­ly, I regret that I did not get to know Father Michael ear­li­er. Two years is way too short a time, but I am grate­ful for what I had.

From its begin­ning, this blog has been an attempt to hon­or and remem­ber Father Michael. And I have done my best to share what I know of him with all of you. I have always been truth­ful, which is why not every­thing you read here of Father M adver­tis­es his per­fec­tion. No, Father was not by any means per­fect. He had his faults.  But he was most cer­tain­ly a holy, holy man and a true instru­ment of Our Lord. I’ve nev­er met any­one like him; I know I’ll nev­er meet his like again, at least in this life.

Over the course of this past year, fel­low parish­ioners have peri­od­i­cal­ly writ­ten about their expe­ri­ences with and thoughts and feel­ings for Father Michael. I iden­ti­fied with each person’s sto­ry, the famil­iar­i­ty and truth of Father Michael came through in each essay. Every sto­ry was authen­tic and cel­e­brat­ed the love­ly aspects of the char­ac­ter of Father Michael. How much he was loved! How much he is missed!

On this first anniver­sary of Father Michael’s death, I want to state  a sim­ple rea­son why he was so spe­cial to me. For me Father Michael just was kindness.He per­son­i­fied that fruit of the Holy Spir­it. Sure, I’ve expe­ri­enced my share of true kind­ness from many oth­ers in my life. It was there in my par­ents, my fam­i­ly, my friends, cowork­ers and some­times strangers. It sup­port­ed me and lift­ed me up. Expe­ri­enc­ing kind­ness taught me how to be kind. It height­ened my aware­ness of how lit­tle things, sim­ple, kind acts can make a dif­fer­ence in people’s lives.

But the kind­ness in Father Michael just enveloped his whole per­son­al­i­ty. Whether talk­ing or silent, laugh­ing or seri­ous, in Father Michael the kind­ness was always there. Ges­tures and words real­ly weren’t nec­es­sary; some­how the kind­ness stood on its own with him. I just felt it. I could see it. It seemed to emanate from him. In my whole life I have NEVER felt kind­ness as sin­cere, as accept­ing, as lov­ing, as warm, as depend­able-as shown by Father Michael. To me this was the very tan­gi­ble pres­ence of the grace of God-that just could not be con­tained-but kind­ly reached out to all. I know that I will nev­er expe­ri­ence this lev­el of com­plete kind­ness from anoth­er per­son. It was anoth­er spe­cial gift of Father Michael.

We look for the Lord in each oth­er. And usu­al­ly, with effort, we do find Him. But with Father Michael, He was always right there.….no look­ing nec­es­sary.

                                                  I live now, not I, but Christ lives in me…

The Dark Days

images-3As it gets clos­er to the first anniver­sary of Father Michael’s death, I find myself think­ing of the events of last year in these last days of March.  I was so in the dark, so wor­ried, so sep­a­rat­ed. I prayed con­stant­ly. I had last received a text from Father Michael on March 19. He talked about being slat­ed for three days of chemo, then wrote “my car is great!”  He’d been watch­ing some tv pro­gram on which cars were rat­ed safest. He end­ed the text with “Just ignore me!” So more con­fu­sion was set­ting in.

Between the 19th and the 22nd, there was no com­mu­ni­ca­tion. On Sun­day the 23rd,in church, they read Father Michael’s name in the inten­tions for the sick. At Mass on the 24th our pas­tor said that Father Michael was in the hos­pi­tal, very con­fused, with blood irreg­u­lar­i­ties. Then on the 25th, the parish com­mu­ni­cat­ed via email that Father M had been dis­charged and was going back to St Pius for hos­pice care.

I texted Father Louie at once that I want­ed to help in any way I could. No response. In ret­ro­spect, I don’t under­stand why I was not asked to come for a final vis­it and at least pray at Father’s bed­side. Accord­ing to the obits, Father Michael had fam­i­ly , “a few close friends” and his Domini­can broth­ers present at his death. In my opin­ion, there were more than a ‘few’ close friends present. Just a feeling.That day, I saw one lady’s post of Father’s sta­tus on Face­book; it was record­ed at 8:40 am, just min­utes before Father Michael’s death. She urged every­one to pray, that Father could still make it, that mir­a­cles hap­pen. I don’t doubt the sin­cer­i­ty and love that prompt­ed the post; I under­stand com­plete­ly. But I still mar­vel that some­one, priv­i­leged to be at Father Michael’s deathbed, would do this. But maybe my mis­take was hop­ing to be invit­ed. I should have just shown up. I will always, always regret that I did not.

I’ve been present at a few deaths-all of them peace­ful. Recent­ly, I’ve seen an inter­view with Bea­t­le George Harrison’s wid­ow where she describes the moment of his death. She wouldn’t be spe­cif­ic but states “Let’s just say you wouldn’t need to light the room”. With Father Michael’s light so bright in life, I can’t help won­der­ing if those present at his death were gift­ed with see­ing a sim­i­lar phenomenon.But just to be there with Father Michael at the end of such an inspir­ing, touch­ing, painful jour­ney-had to have been the great­est hon­or. Father Michael him­self was the phe­nom­e­non-a life full of ser­vice, love and joy!

Men are like stars; some gen­er­ate their own light while oth­ers reflect the bril­liance they receive.
                                   José Martí

Blessed Seer

Spring is Here/ DuncansonWhen I returned to church, I came part­ly to find a priest with whom I could dis­cuss some spir­i­tu­al mat­ters. I took way too much time to do this.I liked all the priests serv­ing there, but just kept hesitating,(for months!) try­ing to decide among them.Previously I’d talked to priests only in con­fes­sion and in meet­ings to pre­pare for my mar­riage. And, I’d  grown up with priests in my fam­i­ly-but those were casu­al fam­i­ly relationships.In my mature adult life, I was just an ordi­nary parish­ioner who attend­ed Mass and said “Good morn­ing, Father” once-in-a-while. That was the extent of my com­mu­ni­ca­tion with priests. So to desire a real meet­ing to dis­cuss the spir­i­tu­al was a big step for me.

From the begin­ning at St Vin­cent Fer­rer, I was enthralled with Father Michael’s preach­ing. He was not a per­fect preach­er, as many would claim, but he was sure­ly excel­lent. I could tell, he always pre­pared. Some­times he strug­gled, some­times he inspired and some­times sure­ly was inspired. So nat­u­ral­ly, I thought about going to talk to him. I was sure he was a most holy per­son. Still, I held off, as I was put off by all his noisy social­iz­ing in the back of church after Mass. If ever a priest had ‘groupies’, Father Michael did!  I found it dif­fi­cult to rec­on­cile the holi­ness and rev­er­ence I sensed from the altar and pul­pit with the sil­ly, some­times unseem­ly per­son I’d see in the vestibule. I am prob­a­bly alone in my opin­ion, but that is how it felt to me.  So I was stuck between pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive about Father Michael- and I stayed on the fence for a long time.

One Sun­day after Mass, I was lit­er­al­ly  “stuck’ in the vestibule. Anoth­er priest had said Mass and there were sev­er­al well-known Domini­cans who were vis­it­ing. They were all in the vestibule, greet­ing peo­ple, many had small groups around them chat­ting. It was quite crowd­ed. And out­side, it was rain­ing. The peo­ple, involved in their vis­it­ing, or wait­ing for the rain to sub­side, were not mov­ing or even aware that oth­ers were try­ing to get by to the doors. So I was stuck behind sev­er­al peo­ple, aim­ing to get to one of the side doors. I didn’t feel like push­ing, so I just wait­ed and watched for an open­ing.

As I waited,the side door opened and in came Father Michael. He slid in and got his scapu­lar stuck in the door. He turned and fussed with the scapu­lar a bit, got it free. Father was all by him­self for a change. He had a seri­ous, placid expres­sion on his face as he stood there so qui­et­ly. I looked on and he nev­er looked my way nor at all the chat­ter­ing groups. Father Michael stood there look­ing so serene, then moved toward one of the inner stained-glass doors. He peered through the clear part, view­ing inside the church.

The fol­low­ing all hap­pened in just a mat­ter of sec­onds: I thought “My gosh, how odd to see Father Michael so qui­et, so dif­fer­ent- and instead all these oth­er Domini­cans loud­ly shoot­ing their mouths off !” And in my head I heard a ‘voice’ that I’ve always attrib­uted to my guardian angel, because it is so dis­tinc­tive from the mus­ings of my con­science. It said -as clear as a bell- “This is their Seer”. Of course I was sur­prised and thrilled. But in response, I thought ” Their seer ? That’s all I need, if I meet with this Father Michael-some­one who reads my mind!” And as soon as I thought that, I received the imme­di­ate under­stand­ing that no, Father Michael was not any kind of psy­chic. He was a Seer.…. of peo­ples’ hearts. And I knew at once that that was one of his most pro­found gifts.

Months lat­er, when I was final­ly meet­ing with Father Michael, we talked about my expe­ri­ence. I expect­ed that Father Michael would be polite, but dis­be­liev­ing and care­ful with what he said to me. Instead, he was so hap­py! He said to me “Some of my broth­ers will say to me, ‘Michael , how did you know that?’ How could you tell? And I tell them I have no idea”. I was so grat­i­fied that he accept­ed what I had expe­ri­enced. I told Father Michael that I now under­stood that he was a Seer of hearts.I stat­ed that I was able to see that clear­ly in how he lived his life and his great, great ten­der­ness for peo­ple. He thanked me sin­cere­ly for telling him.

As we came to the final days of Father Michael’s life, we had so many dis­agree­ments. I real­ly had to look hard for the per­son I had come to know. I apol­o­gized a lot, not always under­stand­ing what I had said that was hurt­ful. One time, I said “Father Michael, I am so sor­ry. What I said to you came from my heart –and not from a bad place in my heart.” And he said, look­ing at me kind­ly, “There couldn’t be a bad place in your heart”. That was the Seer talk­ing.…

But the eyes are blind. One must look with the heart.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Lit­tle Prince

My Apologies

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…to any of my read­ers on March 18–19. I am chang­ing over my theme design on this blog. The sug­ges­tion is to make it more mobile-friend­ly.  I thought I had cho­sen a nice, slight­ly dif­fer­ent design, but unfor­tu­nate­ly things keep going miss­ing. So I’ll be doing some more search­ing and then chang­ing.

Thanks for your patience; I appre­ci­ate your inter­est in dear Father Michael Kyte.

~~Seek­er~~~

Garment for the Banquet

Soul Skirt?
Soul Skirt?

So today I’m stray­ing from Father Michael sto­ries, but stick­ing with the over­all ‘lit­tle things’ theme on this blog. Lent has me think­ing about some unique devo­tions.…

The Singing Nun’s Dominique was all the rage in 1963. I was in eighth grade and the Adri­an Domini­cans who taught at my school would play that song and have us fol­low along with the Eng­lish trans­la­tion. No, no one spoke or under­stood the French-but hey, it was about St Dominic! Maybe we would mirac­u­lous­ly learn French from it, if we lis­tened often enough.

 Those sis­ters prac­ti­cal­ly wore that record out! I cer­tain­ly was curi­ous about it. And my dad had bought the album, so I lis­tened to the whole thing at home, fol­low­ing again, the trans­la­tion.

I grew fond of all the songs, real­ly. But the one that has stuck with me from the first time I heard it(and read it)  is Mets ton Jolie Jupon — in Eng­lish– Put on Your Pret­ty Skirt. And it stuck with me very appro­pri­ate­ly. At 13, as I read­ied myself for Mass on Sun­day,  there it was, play­ing in my head in French, but with my full under­stand­ing . For me it was a prepa­ra­tion for Eucharist; one that was sim­ple but sin­cere-and musi­cal. Even all these years lat­er, the words and melody  always come back to me before church- they are ingrained. What a per­fect way to think about dress­ing up our souls for the lenten jour­ney.

Here is the Eng­lish trans­la­tion and also an audio of that song:

Put on your pret­ty skirt my soul
We have a date, we have a date
Put on your pret­ty skirt my soul
The Lord you love is wait­ing for you

In the ear­ly morn­ing hours
When the dew is on the rose
A small gift of Your love
And I am sat­is­fied!
Cho­rus

When noon is full of won­der
It’s a joy to be alive
I feel gold­en in the sun
of a friend­ship close and warm
Cho­rus

Among the twi­light stars
When You are all around
You make me fall asleep
In the peace of your arms.