Oh Happy Day !

 

Leap-for-JoyJuly 6, 2015 is the day I’m cel­e­brat­ing. My niece Emi­ly deliv­ered a healthy baby boy that after­noon. Moth­er, baby and.….. father (!) are doing just fine. New life is always a mir­a­cle and meant to be cel­e­brat­ed, but this one is a very spe­cial gift. My niece has MS and there were many wor­ries pri­or to the preg­nan­cy. MS meds had to be sus­pend­ed; risks abound­ed. And no one knows how the dis­ease may change for Emi­ly post par­tum. But God is good, as Father Michael would remind us! And I am grate­ful and so hope­ful that “all will be well”.

As you may know, Father Michael had a spe­cial place for Emi­ly in his prayer inten­tions. He prayed for her as soon as she was diag­nosed and through­out her treat­ments, even as he suf­fered through his own ‘malady’.Even  after his death I know Father con­tin­ued to watch over Emi­ly from Heav­en. So this was a very calm and peace­ful preg­nan­cy. I know Father M will hap­pi­ly con­tin­ue to keep an eye on this new fam­i­ly.

On a much more earth­bound note, I fin­ished the THIRD afghan for this lit­tle baby on June 25. I washed it on the ‘hand wash’ cycle of my machine. It came out per­fect. I debat­ed about tak­ing a chance on the (demon) dry­er. My brain is sing-song­ing “oh you of lit­tle faith” and remind­ing me of faith mov­ing moun­tains. My com­mon sense is say­ing “nice that you remem­ber the quotes and sto­ries, but the Lord appre­ci­ates it when you’re not stu­pid.”  So I skipped the dry­er and hung the blan­ket draped between two hang­ers. It took two days to dry.

Final­ly, late Sat­ur­day morn­ing I packed up the afghan. My hus­band took it to the post office, sent it Pri­or­i­ty Mail, two day deliv­ery -but not guar­an­teed. $15, but worth it, right? It was insured and due to get to Con­necti­cut on Mon­day. Good deal!  Sun­day I checked the track­ing; the pack­age was still in Illi­nois. I checked on Mon­day, sup­pos­ed­ly the deliv­ery date. “Arrived at Las Vegas, NV @1:18 am”.  Oh no-I was dread­ing that the next update would say ‘out for deliv­ery’. But no, late that evening, the track­ing said “depart­ed Las Vegas NV”. No word then until July 1. The pack­age got to Spring­field MA! I began to be hope­ful that it just might make it to Con­necti­cut- maybe even the fol­low­ing day. Well, it did make it to Con­necti­cut on the 2nd of July. But it went to anoth­er town on the 3rd, then final­ly to the cor­rect town and a front porch deliv­ery!!!!! Took a full sev­en days. I just can’t say enough about Pri­or­i­ty Mail.

So just thought I’d catch you up on the news. But I’ve got some mus­ings and some more Father Michael mem­o­ries com­ing up soon.

Remem­ber Father Rivers’ Mass from the ‘60s?  I do, fond­ly. Seems appro­pri­ate for a hap­py day:

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Compassionate and Honest

Green Pastures/Megan Duncanson
Green Pastures/Megan Dun­can­son

I’ve remem­bered more from my first appoint­ment with Father Michael. I know some sub­jects car­ried over to the sec­ond and sub­se­quent appoint­ments. I sup­pose it real­ly doesn’t mat­ter- except from my per­spec­tive. That first appoint­ment was an intro­duc­tion to a stranger- a very holy man — who was full of sur­pris­es. One of the amus­ing things that hap­pened was that Father Michael kept try­ing to find out my age.Several times he men­tioned the year he grad­u­at­ed from high school and oth­er sig­nif­i­cant events of the ‘70s and asked me where I was when they occurred .  I final­ly real­ized that he want­ed to know my age, so I just told him. I don’t know why it was so impor­tant to him, but he seemed calmer once he knew.

Anoth­er dis­cus­sion was about my fam­i­ly, my eth­nic­i­ty, my sib­lings, my par­ents. I men­tioned that my dad had died in 1986. Father asked what my dad had died of and his age. I replied “He died of leukemia at six­ty-one”. Well, as soon as I said that Father said loud­ly and incred­u­lous­ly. “Six­ty-one? six­ty-one? Why, I’m fifty-nine myself!!!”  And as he spoke, he react­ed- he put both hands to his face, hold­ing them there for a sec­ond , then ran them up over his head a cou­ple of times. And he paced as he did this. He seemed tru­ly dis­tressed. And I was touched again by his vis­i­ble emo­tion. Then Father asked how long my dad had lived with the dis­ease. “Two months,” I replied, ” he died in remis­sion.” Again Father repeat­ed my words “Two months?????” and again he got very upset .

Now you know Father had mem­o­ry trou­bles; I’ve men­tioned that before. The scene above about my dad’s death was repeat­ed no less than four times in the two years I knew Father Michael. Each time, Father react­ed exact­ly the same way. It was like he took it per­son­al­ly, as though it were a mes­sage for him. It was this expe­ri­ence and sev­er­al oth­ers that bol­stered my belief that Father was intu­itive and ‘knew things’.

Before he was even diag­nosed with can­cer, Father would talk about things hav­ing to do with his death. Once I vis­it­ed him in the sac­risty and the first thing out of his mouth was that he had decid­ed that when he died, he was going to have Instant Lot­tery tick­ets spread all over the inside of his cas­ket. And then he said “but of course, I wouldn’t have them buried with me and waste them. I’d have them dis­trib­uted to all the mourn­ers before they closed the cas­ket”. I was amused, but said , “Father M, why on earth are you even think­ing about stuff like that??!!”  That time he answered that he’d been to quite a few wakes recent­ly where this had been done–and he liked the idea. He brought this up a sec­ond time also, freak­ing me out a lit­tle.

Back to the appointment.….Father talked about his fam­i­ly, his old­er broth­er, in par­tic­u­lar. Father was very proud of all his sib­lings. But there seemed to be a spe­cial bond between him and his old­er broth­er. I believe his old­er broth­er pro­tect­ed Father Michael as a child; he’d often spo­ken of being picked on. Father told of his brother’s edu­ca­tion, accom­plish­ments and wealth (yes, a lit­tle brag­ging). Then said “he is a won­der­ful, devout, pro­gres­sive Catholic”. Then a moment lat­er “and I am a pro­gres­sive priest”.

I kind of expect­ed that as I sur­mised it was part of the rea­son for Father Michael’s pop­u­lar­i­ty. But I am not pro­gres­sive, and I’d rather not label any­body or be labeled. When Father said this, he sound­ed so con­fid­ing and secre­tive, I imme­di­ate­ly want­ed to let him know that I thought dif­fer­ent­ly. So I asked to tell him a story.It was about the parish I’d belonged to before St Vin­cent. It was a pret­ty wild place. My two old­er kids went to CCD there. Two sis­ters and a dea­con pre­pared them for Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and First Com­mu­nion. I attend­ed the par­ent edu­ca­tion meet­ings and in the ones for First Com­mu­nion, I was tak­en aback by the lack of under­stand­ing of the sacra­ment. Peo­ple talked about, bread, wine, sym­bols; no one seemed to have any kind of grasp of the Real Pres­ence. The two sis­ters said noth­ing to enlight­en or cor­rect any­one. Noth­ing. I was shak­en.

The sis­ter in charge of the Com­mu­nion cat­e­ch­esis began to preach at Mass on Sun­day. It was near­ly every Sun­day. She was quite gifted,an excel­lent preach­er, no deny­ing that. The parish was inte­grat­ed with many African-Amer­i­cans com­ing to Mass because their kids attend­ed the school. Sis­ter, also African-Amer­i­can, real­ly spoke to them and their lives. And her per­spec­tive was cer­tain­ly enrich­ing to the rest of us.But I real­ized she should not have been preach­ing and it both­ered me.This con­tin­ued for a year and then the sis­ter began to wear priest­ly vest­ments for Mass. I tried to ratio­nal­ize that one out; I couldn’t. My gut feel­ing was that sis­ter was try­ing to enhance her author­i­ty by wear­ing the vest­ments. And though there were peo­ple like me who would think “who are you kid­ding?”, there were oth­ers who would not be aware of the false­ness. I just thought it was wrong.

I con­tact­ed the Office of Divine Wor­ship to talk to some­one about it. (Father Michael near­ly had a con­nip­tion when I told him this. He sat there lis­ten­ing, but steam­ing.) I had to doc­u­ment my obser­vances by let­ter, so I did. I had to describe the vest­ments she wore. The priest in that office made sure I knew that a pas­tor could give per­mis­sion for some­one else to do the homi­ly. He didn’t know what to say when I said ” But Father, it’s near­ly every week!” Well, noth­ing hap­pened. I left the parish and found St Vincent’s-a calm place. About ten years lat­er, a con­ser­v­a­tive bish­op had the sis­ter reas­signed. She became head of her order-no sur­prise there!

I made the point to Father Michael that the sis­ter who was so dri­ven to preach was the same one who didn’t both­er to edu­cate at all in the First Com­mu­nion class­es. He got that, but was irri­tat­ed with me for my con­tact­ing the Arch­dio­cese. He yelled at me, so angry that I would ques­tion a Dominican’s preach­ing charism. I yelled back “No, she was NOT a Domini­can, Father Michael!”  He was also cha­grinned that I would not auto­mat­i­cal­ly and unques­tion­ing­ly sup­port anoth­er woman. Father M must have been exposed to a lot of real­ly testy fem­i­nists- that’s all I can fig­ure. He act­ed like he was com­plete­ly in their cor­ner, but I feel he was try­ing to show sen­si­tiv­i­ty.

Any­way, Father Michael under­stood me bet­ter after that. Part of me didn’t want to ever hear that he might be at odds with church teach­ing. But now I often won­der what inter­est­ing sce­nar­ios he might have been part of, being pro­gres­sive “and proud of it” and also open to “trump­ing the law”. Our appoint­ment end­ed pleas­ant­ly and we con­tin­ued to meet a few times more, before the can­cer.

Once, on the phone, with Father Louie near­by, Father Michael stat­ed that Louie was one of a select group who’d ever seen him get angry. I refreshed his mem­o­ry about the expe­ri­ence I’ve just relayed. He was sur­prised and then remem­bered.

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Always the Shepherd

The Lost Sheep/Daniel Bonnell
The Lost Sheep/Daniel Bon­nell

Yes­ter­day I was look­ing at a video of a Domini­can event that took place in March, 2013. At the end of the video the cam­era panned the group of peo­ple in atten­dance. Then it focused on some Domini­can fri­ars stand­ing in the back of the room. And there he was, Father Michael, hold­ing court just like he used to do at St Vin­cent, hug­ging and kiss­ing up a storm. There was audio, too, and I could faint­ly hear Father’s voice. Gosh, it brought tears to my eyes to see, as real again, a  com­mon scene I have remem­bered and cher­ished. Sad to say, they were still tears of sad­ness, not joy. I watched the clip twice and and then decid­ed to just leave it alone. It’s not sur­pris­ing to me that these ‘lit­tle things’ still hold a very deep mean­ing. Lat­er I remem­bered that I had actu­al­ly called Father M that day, want­i­ng to know if he was ready to eat some pies after com­plet­ing his chemo. Well, he was out of state, he said, but he was anx­ious for pie upon his return to St Pius. It was exact­ly a year and a day before he died.

I want to focus on the pos­i­tive. So I’ve decid­ed that I will share some ear­ly mem­o­ries of Father Michael-before his can­cer diag­no­sis. I know that I have men­tioned that I came back to my parish to dis­cuss some spir­i­tu­al issues with a priest. It was not a mat­ter of con­fes­sion; there was more to it. After a long delay, I approached Father M and he was very wel­com­ing. First I emailed Father, then I vis­it­ed him in the sac­risty, then set up an appoint­ment. This is about my first appoint­ment.

I made the appoint­ment about a week before and was a lit­tle ner­vous, yet felt I had found the right per­son. I was so impressed with Father Michael, I thought “I just know he’s going to talk about the grace of Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion”. I was sure he would sug­gest that to me. I thought if I made my con­fes­sion to Father Michael, I’d be so emo­tion­al­ly spent that I wouldn’t be able to talk about all the oth­er stuff. So that morning,after Mass at St Vin­cent, I went to a close-by parish for Con­fes­sion. I knew the priests were avail­able right after Mass. So fun­ny, because I think I felt like I had to cleanse my soul before I dared face the very holy Father Michael. And yes, he did bring up Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion that day!

Well, I was on time for the appoint­ment, Father Michael was a few min­utes late. I knew he had been with a promi­nent mem­ber of our parish who had passed away. The recep­tion­ist had been on the phone “get­ting the word out”. When Father arrived, we went into his office and sat down. Even though I had eat­en, my stom­ach had been rum­bling away-prob­a­bly nerves. I decid­ed to just be open about it and apol­o­gize for the noise ahead of time. Well, Father M laughed and said “Oh you don’t know about me and my stom­ach issues. Girl, you and I will just sit here and gur­gle at each oth­er!” So that broke the awk­ward­ness for me! Father Michael then start­ed to give me a his­to­ry of his stom­ach issues,the cur­rent ones (which many ladies of the parish knew well-and dis­cussed freely) . He then told of the bleed­ing ulcer he had in Den­ver. He was Domini­can Novice Mas­ter at the time. He said the doc­tors had told him he had “24 hours to live”. He claimed he told them “Good, no dra­ma, don’t wor­ry about noti­fy­ing my fam­i­ly”. He nev­er said how long it took him to recu­per­ate or if his fam­i­ly were ever noti­fied. I asked what he thought caused the ulcer and he said “I kind of let every­thing get away from me”. I didn’t feel com­fort­able ask­ing him to elab­o­rate, though now I wish I had. In lat­er con­ver­sa­tions, he did say that when­ev­er his stom­ach would give him trou­ble, he’d just stop eating,sometimes for a few days. He talked about pos­si­bly hav­ing lac­tose intol­er­ance, irri­ta­ble bow­el syn­drome and mul­ti­ple bow­el obstruc­tions. Father M was very frank about this stuff- though he nev­er men­tioned a doctor’s diag­no­sis. And– he also allud­ed to some regret about not being stricter as a Novice Master-“when I hear how some of them are now.”

So after the stom­ach dis­cus­sion Father asked me about myself. He was so care­ful in how he asked about edu­ca­tion. It was clear to me that he was leery of offend­ing some­one (espe­cial­ly a woman) by assum­ing her lev­el of edu­ca­tion was low­er than she had achieved. I’ll bet he’d made that faux pas a few times! The cau­tion was actu­al­ly very charm­ing. But I only have a B.A. from Loy­ola-so he had noth­ing to fear. That’s pret­ty aver­age. Then Father asked more ques­tions about pos­si­bly stress­ful sit­u­a­tions in my life. I rec­og­nized all the queries as being pret­ty stan­dard about death, divorce, mov­ing, job, abuse, addic­tion. Father was very gen­tle and kind and ten­ta­tive in his ques­tion­ing. I think he just assumed I was hav­ing mar­i­tal prob­lems. He men­tioned annul­ments and remar­riage a few times. Well, my issue was none of these, but it took me three or four appoint­ments before I felt com­fort­able telling him. I didn’t want to be dis­cour­te­ous and shut down all his kind effort, so I went along with it.

Of course we talked about oth­er things, most notably fam­i­ly, Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and the Eucharist. But most inter­est­ing­ly, Father Michael gave me a lit­tle lec­ture on the pow­er of the sense of touch. He explained that when he was a fresh­man at Dal­housie Uni­ver­si­ty, he and his old­er broth­er had attend­ed a sem­i­nar or lec­ture by a very famous sci­en­tist. The lec­ture was all about the sense of touch and how impor­tant and mean­ing­ful it was. I found myself think­ing “I am a wife and moth­er of three, why is he telling me this? If noth­ing else, I am ful­ly aware of how impor­tant this is for bond­ing moth­er and baby.” Well, Father talked for over ten min­utes on this sub­ject. I was fas­ci­nat­ed at his great emo­tion in relay­ing his thoughts with such con­vic­tion. Father end­ed his talk telling me of the new wid­ow he had just left. He described poignant­ly how she had stroked her dead husband’s arm over and over. And he showed me just how she did this. He choked up and teared up as he described his awe being in the pres­ence of such a great love.Quite an unex­pect­ed turn in our talk, but as I grew to know Father bet­ter, I learned that using touch was a hall­mark of Father Michael’s being.

Then we spoke of the Eucharist. I’ve writ­ten about this awhile back. For some rea­son Father Michael was impressed by my words that day. I still wish I could remem­ber what I’d said. In any case, Father M start­ed talk­ing about the way peo­ple received the Eucharist , peo­ple who would just grab IT from him, those who approached dis­re­spect­ful­ly, those who would receive and just walk out the door. He lament­ed that poor cat­e­ch­esis  had result­ed in peo­ple ‘who didn’t have a clue’. He was tru­ly sad about this. Then Father shared the expe­ri­ence of cel­e­brat­ing Mass in Cana­da with those very close to him. He quick­ly gave a run­down of those who were no longer prac­tic­ing Catholics and those extend­ed fam­i­ly who belonged to dif­fer­ent denom­i­na­tions. With big tears rolling down his cheeks, he said “I feel so bad about their receiv­ing Com­mu­nion, but I don’t know what to say.” Wow, was I sur­prised about that!!!!  After all he was a priest-and a good and holy one- who wouldn’t lis­ten to him?  I was con­cerned and empa­thet­ic, see­ing again this great emo­tion show so quick­ly. I said “Father Michael, I can under­stand that you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feel­ings or start a war, but maybe one of your broth­ers could explain this in a non-hurt­ful way”. Father just shook his head, he felt tru­ly help­less about the sit­u­a­tion. Father was unique in open­ly show­ing his vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty and I was priv­i­leged to see this in sig­nif­i­cant mat­ters of faith. When he vis­it­ed Cana­da, I prayed that he might have peace about this.

In my ear­li­est posts, I’ve writ­ten about oth­er aspects of this meet­ing. I won’t repeat them here.The meet­ing end­ed most pleas­ant­ly. And I felt that God had giv­en me a great gift in lead­ing me to Father Michael. It is so nice to rem­i­nisce. So much was so mean­ing­ful.

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Made To Shine

images

More thoughts from my ill­ness hia­tus are com­ing back to me. I did a lot of inter­net read­ing while sick; couldn’t do much else! I have sev­er­al favorite blogs I tapped into reg­u­lar­ly.

One of these blogs is “One Mad Mom”, writ­ten by a Cal­i­for­nia home school­ing mom, who whole­heart­ed­ly sup­ports embat­tled Arch­bish­op Cordileone, of San Fran­cis­co. She’s just excel­lent. I espe­cial­ly enjoyed her posts “Meet the Laity” and “Doing the Pas­toral Thing”.

Here’s a quote from that blog that I real­ly like; it is from Arch­bish­op Cordileone’s speech to sem­i­nar­i­ans:

This is being pas­toral: encoun­ter­ing the oth­er, estab­lish­ing a rela­tion­ship with them, being lov­ing­ly present to them. A priest can­not pos­si­bly hope to help his peo­ple grow in holi­ness if he is not present to them. His lov­ing, pas­toral pres­ence to them at those most crit­i­cal moments of life – the loss of a loved one, the birth of a child, mar­riage, times of cri­sis – all of this pre­pares the ground for him to, when nec­es­sary, chal­lenge them for their own ongo­ing con­ver­sion. So make no mis­take: tru­ly doing the “pas­toral thing” will always be hard­er, it will always place demands on you, some­times incon­ve­nient and uncom­fort­able demands; it will require you to work hard.

The Arch­bish­op then goes on to con­trast ide­o­logue and lazy priests with those being tru­ly pas­toral. Lots of food for thought, espe­cial­ly for Catholics who would nev­er ques­tion the behav­ior or moti­va­tion of their priests. I com­mend ‘One Mad Mom’ for spot­light­ing these things.

Speak­ing of behav­ior of priests: one ‘rock star’ priest is one too many, in my opin­ion. A local com­mu­ni­ty is hav­ing to deal with the after­math of ‘an error in judg­ment’ by their very pop­u­lar priest. I am aware of a sim­i­lar, but as yet unpub­li­cized sit­u­a­tion in anoth­er neigh­bor­ing dio­cese. Law­suits all over the place. These sad sit­u­a­tions brought back to my mind some thoughts of Father Hun­wicke in late 2014. (his blog is Father Hunwicke’s Mutu­al Enrich­ment) Father wrote a post on celiba­cy in Decem­ber. I think he makes some excel­lent points, par­tic­u­lar­ly about extreme extro­verts in the priest­hood:

Since the 1960s, there has been much talk about mer­cy, and for­give­ness, and sim­i­lar very splen­did things. It has been an era in which we have been urged not to be too pre­oc­cu­pied with sin, par­tic­u­lar­ly sex­u­al sin. A Catholic priest with much pro­fes­sion­al com­pe­tence in this area has explained to me that one psy­cho­log­i­cal rea­son for the bit­ter hatred of the Extra­or­di­nary Form among senior cler­gy of a cer­tain age has been that they asso­ciate it with a cru­el, rigid, sin-obsessed sex-proc­cu­pied form of Catholi­cism upon which they look back with fear and detes­ta­tion. So: ‘mer­ci­ful’ bish­ops were dis­in­clined to ‘ruin’ a priest for ‘just one lapse’, or even two or three. Or four. After all, as we have been informed over and over again, sex­u­al sins are not the only sorts of sins; spir­i­tu­al sins such as Pride, and sins against Social Jus­tice, are far more dis­pleas­ing in the sight of God than mere laps­es from Chasti­ty. Our Oz friends could look into the prob­lem of ‘lib­er­al’ bish­ops as well.
My own, again anec­do­tal, expe­ri­ence has inclined me to think that ‘charis­mat­ic’ lead­ers, admired by the media and sur­round­ed by ador­ing groupies, can be pecu­liar­ly vul­ner­a­ble to sex­u­al temp­ta­tion. J F Kennedy, Mar­tin Luther King, and, with­in the Church, bish­op Eamonn Casey … and Fr Macial Maciel … and Fr Lelio Can­ti­ni … spring to mind; and one bish­op of my acquain­tance in the Church of Eng­land was anoth­er. He was held in such tremen­dous­ly high regard, not least in the very high­est reach­es of the British Estab­lish­ment, that after acknowl­edg­ing his guilt, accept­ing a police warn­ing, and resign­ing his dio­cese, he imme­di­ate­ly start­ed spread­ing it around that he was com­plete­ly inno­cent, but had plead­ed guilty to save the Church the embar­rass­ment of a pub­lic tri­al. This claim was accept­ed by peo­ple unwill­ing to face up to the fact that they had been gullible dupes. So plau­si­ble was he that his one-time dioce­san supe­ri­or, when he came lat­er to write his own auto­bi­og­ra­phy, round­ly assert­ed the total inno­cence of his fel­low-bish­op and put the entire episode down to a Wicked Plot. I think psy­cho­me­t­ric experts should exam­ine with even more than their usu­al acu­ity can­di­dates for ordi­na­tion who are at the extreme ‘extro­vert’ end of the spec­trum. Oz could look into this side of things as well.

Father Hun­wicke is so eru­dite and so fun­ny. And his Latin ref­er­ences bowl me over and chal­lenge me, as I have only stud­ied Latin for two years. He nev­er ‘dumbs it down’; he is respect­ful to his read­ers. I appre­ci­ate his wise and frank words.

And then there was a post on the Per­son­al­ist Project’s web­site titled “Over­com­ing Cler­i­cal­ism”. I will only quote a small por­tion address­ing cler­i­cal­ism, which I have edit­ed. Katie van Schai­jik wrote:

Hom­i­lies that seem addressed to a con­gre­ga­tion of fourth graders. The priest is the teacher; we are the chil­dren. He tells a cutesy anec­dote or two, then gives us lit­tle expla­na­tions and instruc­tions designed to make the faith acces­si­ble for begin­ners. Noth­ing in the tone or con­tent express­es a due aware­ness of the fact that the church is like­ly full of mature Catholics, many of whom are high­ly edu­cat­ed in their faith—some more edu­cat­ed than the priests (and dea­cons). They don’t need instruc­tion, but preach­ing of the kind Pope Fran­cis calls for in the Gospel of Joy.

.….….….…. Some lay Catholics need instruc­tion. But nobody needs patron­iz­ing; no adults should be addressed as if they’re chil­dren. And all Catholics, regard­less of our lev­el of matu­ri­ty and knowl­edge need good preach­ing. Good preach­ing, like the Scrip­tures it’s about, should be “shal­low enough for an ant to wade in and deep enough for an ele­phant to swim in.”

One of the prob­lems we’re deal­ing with, though, is that an alarm­ing num­ber of priests come across as seri­ous cas­es of arrest­ed devel­op­ment. They don’t seem to have matured prop­er­ly as human beings. I hope the Arch­bish­op will find a way to address this prob­lem at the sem­i­nary and beyond. Among my sug­ges­tions would be to encour­age much more inter­ac­tion between priests and laity on the lev­el of true friend­ship.

I iden­ti­fied with hear­ing a fourth grade lev­el homi­ly. It’s not always the case in my parish, but it hap­pens enough. And I don’t know about the arrest­ed devel­op­ment being ram­pant. I’m not a psy­chol­o­gist. But I can def­i­nite­ly see the point of inter­ac­tion between priests and laity on a lev­el of true friend­ship. In my expe­ri­ence, this is where many priests will go through the motions, and say all the right things, but nev­er tru­ly let down their guard. They are friend-ly , but not a friend. The priest shares his pres­ence, but not his true self.

For­ma­tors talk about attract­ing well-round­ed, intel­li­gent, high­ly edu­cat­ed men to the priest­hood. Some­how when I read their assess­ments of their newest can­di­dates, they sound more like snob­bish brags anx­ious to cul­ti­vate and adver­tise an ‘intel­lec­tu­al’ machis­mo. I get the feel­ing that that aspect is most impor­tant, rather than nur­tur­ing and inspir­ing virtue in these men.  But what do I know? These days an awful lot of peo­ple abide by the adage “If it works, don’t fix it”. Maybe that’s the case here, but I have to wonder—is it real­ly work­ing?

So thought I’d share the thoughts that have been on my mind this last month. I swear I dreamed of these things over and over when I was sick! They just stayed with me. But I am glad I was com­pelled to do the read­ing. And there is so much more, I’ll save it for anoth­er time.

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Devil in the Dryer ?

9-1Gone for over a month-and I come back with such silli­ness. That’s fine, I need a break from the seri­ous stuff !

In a way , this is still a seri­ous mat­ter. My niece, who has MS, is about to become a moth­er. The baby, a lit­tle boy, is due to arrive on July 11. There was a baby show­er in ear­ly April. I had cro­cheted a beau­ti­ful mul­ti­col­ored afghan in fluffy yarn for the baby. The after­noon before the show­er, as is my cus­tom, I decid­ed to wash and dry the afghan. I have a dog and a cat and I just think it is cour­te­ous to wash the gift item, so it will be free of ani­mal hair. Also, fab­ric soft­en­er lends a nice scent.

Now I’ve done many, many baby blan­kets with this fluffy yarn, washed them with no prob­lem. The yarn label states “machine wash­able and dryable”. But that evening in April, I removed the afghan from the dry­er and was stunned. First, it had stretched to about one and a half times its cor­rect size. As a result of this, all the stitch­es were loose and stringy-look­ing. Then the beau­ti­ful col­ors had lost their inten­si­ty because they were so spread apart. It looked dingy. The yarn, which nor­mal­ly is nub­by and irreg­u­lar in a cozy way, turned wispy and ragged. I was so upset!

Luck­i­ly, I had stopped at a local shop and picked up a few lit­tle extras for the baby ear­li­er that day. Those became my main gift at the show­er. I wrote a note to my niece explain­ing what had hap­pened. And I said anoth­er afghan would be forth­com­ing.

I real­ly want­ed to do the same pat­tern, but decid­ed I should choose a dif­fer­ent one- but using the same nor­mal­ly love­ly yarn. I had to order some more yarn. A week lat­er it arrived and I was anx­ious to get start­ed.  But then I became very ill and my arms ached so much, I was not able to do a darn thing! After three weeks, I felt bet­ter  and I final­ly was able to start the blan­ket. I com­plet­ed it in three days; I was very pleased with how it turned out.

So again, I decid­ed to wash the blan­ket. I actu­al­ly prayed as I placed it in my wash­er on the “del­i­cate” cycle with luke­warm water. I left out the fab­ric soft­en­er. Lat­er I held my breath as I removed the blan­ket from the wash­er. It looked just fine! I was so hap­py. I put it in the dry­er with a big fluffy tow­el to help pre­vent any pilling. And I added a fab­ric soft­en­er sheet.…..and I think that was my mis­take.

Twen­ty min­utes lat­er, I pulled out anoth­er rag­gy, beat-up afghan. My heart sank. I was beside myself. I could have cried, but I also was angry. It had to have been either the fab­ric soft­en­er sheet or the dry­er itself. As I said ear­li­er, I’ve washed this yarn before — with­out a prob­lem. I’ve used fab­ric soft­en­er every time. So, maybe it was just the dryer.….I am tempt­ed to call it the demon­ic dry­er. Found the per­fect pic­ture to illus­trate this-haha. I’d show you pic­tures of the two hideous afghans, but I think most peo­ple would have a hard time believ­ing they were ever pret­ty.

So now I have start­ed again. Same yarn,different pat­tern. I’ve actu­al­ly chuck­led see­ing reviews of the yarn stat­ing “wash­es and dries like a dream”. More like a night­mare!!! I find the pos­si­bil­i­ty of fac­ing the same dry­er expe­ri­ence scary. But maybe the third time will be the charm. And hey, it’s a Mys­ti­cal num­ber!   My niece is wait­ing, prob­a­bly think­ing she will get noth­ing from me. I am so irked that my lack of a gift comes across as dis­cour­tesy, when real­ly it has been com­plete­ly demor­al­iz­ing for me. Plus there is the fact of all the work involved, going down the drain. Yes, it is work I love to do , but work nonethe­less!

Say a prayer for me!

Patience gains all things”- Tere­sa de Ávi­la

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The Words That Guide Us

Emulating Julian of Norwich?
Emu­lat­ing Julian of Nor­wich?

Words can inspire and move. Words can teach and relay wis­dom. Words can also sow con­fu­sion and dis­cord. In par­tic­u­lar, the words of a preach­er in a homi­ly are sup­posed to be cho­sen with care -and be helped along, God will­ing — by the Spir­it. But, I’ve got to won­der at times. I’ve heard many, many won­der­ful things from the pul­pit. I’ve also heard some ridicu­lous pro­nounce­ments, spo­ken as near-dog­ma, some unthink­ing, hurt­ful gen­er­al­iza­tions, and some rep­e­ti­tious per­son­al themes, pre­sent­ed as the truth. Because I want to vent a bit, this post will be about the neg­a­tive stuff.

We, the faith­ful, are right­ly chas­tised for say­ing things that are insen­si­tive and hurt­ful to oth­ers . Yet our priests may do the same thing, espe­cial­ly from the pul­pit. Many times, though, the priests pos­sess that ele­ment of author­i­ty and holi­ness that may make us feel reluc­tant to reject, ques­tion or crit­i­cize their words.

Even some­one like Father Michael had his “bad days”. Yes, Father M was most­ly excel­lent as a preach­er, but some­times he just blew it. When this hap­pened, it was just a turn of phrase here and there-but to me, a few real­ly stood out: One time he began his homi­ly describ­ing the return of some­one who’d been away from the faith for a while. He talked about the man’s pro­fes­sion­al back­ground and then declared “Oh, he was mar­ried, but the mar­riage was over. It had been over for a long time.” I was sur­prised by the flip­pan­cy of a Catholic priest using the words “the mar­riage was over” . I know that this is how our soci­ety would describe it, but I felt sad­dened and dis­ap­point­ed that a priest would refer to a mar­riage with prob­lems this way. I instinc­tive­ly felt empa­thy for the many, many couples(some sure­ly there in church) who strug­gle through the bad times, to keep their mar­riages togeth­er. I thought these words were so thought­less; they dis­tract­ed me from hear­ing the rest of the homi­ly.

Anoth­er time Father Michael was speak­ing about how he per­son­al­ly had the most trou­ble keep­ing his vow of obe­di­ence. In the course of explain­ing this he said “Sure, we all strug­gle with celiba­cy.”  Ok — we know celiba­cy is choos­ing to be unmar­ried and chaste. I think Father meant chasti­ty, but what­ev­er, once again he was flip about this-which set the crude tone for many loud and inap­pro­pri­ate con­ver­sa­tions he con­duct­ed in the vestibule after Mass that day.

Then there was the time in the gospel where Jesus told of  get­ting the ox or don­key out of the pit on the Sab­bath. Father Michael gave a few more exam­ples show­ing com­mon sense or kind­ness in con­flict with ‘the rules’. He con­clud­ed his homi­ly with a big grin say­ing “And so you see, my dear broth­ers and sis­ters, love ALWAYS trumps the law.” I looked up at him grin­ning there and just shook my head. We lat­er had a dis­cus­sion about this in our meet­ing. I told him I felt his gen­er­al­iza­tion sound­ed nice, but was very mis­lead­ing.  I gave him my own exam­ples of how peo­ple, espe­cial­ly young peo­ple, could be influ­enced by a state­ment like that. Father M went on and and on about how  ‘we know Jesus was a man of the law’. And I said “Yes, of course , but you nev­er said that !!!”  He was very upset, but he final­ly got the mes­sage. But those hear­ing the homi­ly?  We’ll nev­er know.

Anoth­er priest in our parish seems to have a pen­chant for using the words “anger, bit­ter­ness and resent­ment” in hom­i­lies. He often talks in his hom­i­lies about our hearts being full of those three emo­tions. It is a recur­ring theme that gets tired. Of course he always encour­ages us to rid our­selves of these atti­tudes. As a per­son who some­times feels all three, I’d wel­come a lit­tle instruc­tion on com­bat­ing them and a lit­tle com­pas­sion for what caused them in the first place.Scolding doesn’t do it for me. It’s just not that sim­ple to say “Be gone !”  I think I am ripe for inspired instruc­tion.

The same priest seems to equate an out­go­ing, chat­ty, ‘peo­ple per­son’  with the ide­al Chris­t­ian. He talks in hom­i­lies about how we should all be of ser­vice, and seems to feel that social­iz­ing in any way pos­si­ble is the only sure way to the King­dom. He doesn’t seem to under­stand that there are oth­er, less ‘in your face’ ways to prac­tice one’s faith.You know-like prayer-which he hard­ly ever men­tions! If I had been alive in Christ’s time on earth and per­ceived Him as an over-the-top extro­vert, I would NOT have fol­lowed Him.  Not everyone’s a par­ty ani­mal. That sure­ly can’t be ‘the Way’.

And anoth­er priest tends to re-use the same hom­i­lies for some of the big­ger feasts and solem­ni­ties. You would think he’d at least change the jokes. Those make the repeat hom­i­lies more rec­og­niz­able! I remem­ber the jokes. He also has a ten­den­cy to refer to the Prodi­gal Son sto­ry a lot. He talks about the old­er son ‘cre­at­ing his own hell’ by delib­er­ate­ly sep­a­rat­ing him­self from his father and brother.Good one to fall back on, I guess.

Well, that’s enough com­plain­ing, though I may do it again some­time as the Spir­it moves me! FYI- the pos­i­tives in preach­ing real­ly do out­weigh the neg­a­tives-most of the time.

 

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Spring’s Subtle Memento

IMG_0045It’s the first of May and a sun­ny day here in the Chica­go area. Spring is slow­ly com­ing around. New life and all that.…always a great reminder of ever­last­ing life. I was hop­ing to be inspired to write hope­ful, encour­ag­ing words today. Maybe that will come lat­er.

I was look­ing back through old emails and came across some cor­re­spon­dence between my sis­ter and me. It’s from Novem­ber, 2013. I hadn’t heard from Father Michael, was get­ting wor­ried and final­ly decid­ed to call him. This was the point when he was receiv­ing mag­ne­sium infu­sions all the time. It’s sad to read about and remem­ber those days. Here is the email I found :

Me:

Father Michael answered!! He was just leav­ing for the clin­ic. He said he has gone every day this week. He has not need­ed the infu­sion each day, yet has to wait 3 hours until the test comes back. I asked him if he gets to lie down while wait­ing. He said he did yes­ter­day in the wait­ing room.

He has been pray­ing to that Fr. Maz­zuchel­li , said he asked him for a break last night. “And he gave it to me”, he said. He was able to get some sleep. He said all he did was throw up yes­ter­day. Last night was real­ly bad. He says he just gets real­ly dehy­drat­ed and weak.

His voice sound­ed crack­ly today again. He said he has been sleep­ing on the bath­room floor and Fr. Louie told him  “that’s okay, sleep in the tub if you want”.

I said to him “Father Michael, you have been fight­ing so hard, you do what­ev­er you want. I’ll be pray­ing”. And I said “I know that this is so hard for you and that you might real­ly be full of doubts and that is so dif­fi­cult”. So he repeat­ed “Yes, I have been fight­ing so hard, so very hard”. And “Yes, I am full of doubts”. He kind of sound­ed like a lit­tle boy, eas­i­ly influ­enced.

Then he told me “I promise we will talk” and said Louie was wait­ing for him and then again he repeat­ed that we’d talk.

I’m glad I called him even though it was dis­rup­tive.

Last evening I had such a bad feel­ing about things, then calmed down. I swear I am attuned to him some­how.

My sis­ter:

You have some sort of bond. He sounds so sick.

Me:

He does — and he sounds drugged and grog­gy, but was still chuck­ling a few times. It is so touch­ing. Around 3, I sent a text say­ing I hoped that he didn’t need the infu­sion. Noth­ing back yet, but I feel com­pli­ment­ed that he even picked up the phone to talk this morn­ing.

So it was noth­ing out of the ordi­nary for those times. I was wit­ness to an excep­tion­al person’s suf­fer­ing. Father Michael had a very accept­ing atti­tude toward his suffering.During a par­tic­u­lar­ly dif­fi­cult time he wrote me:

I have been quite sick all week. I feel a bit weary from all the vom­it­ing and nau­sea. Hope­ful­ly, tomor­row they will be able to arrange bet­ter nau­sea med­i­cine. But I always real­ize there are so many oth­ers at the clin­ic who are much worse off than I am and their jour­ney is pre­car­i­ous at best.”

What an exam­ple! Unfor­get­table.

My life is sim­pler these days, though there have been oth­er tri­als this past year. In ret­ro­spect I real­ize I was so priv­i­leged to even accom­pa­ny Father Michael how­ev­er dis­tant­ly on his jour­ney. I’ll always be grate­ful.

As I have men­tioned before, toward the end of Father’s life, there was no news or updates or com­mu­ni­ca­tion.  It was so painful to be kept in the dark, after shar­ing so much. If it helped him to be away from us at the end (and we’ll nev­er real­ly know), I am glad. But Father wrote me once “You know, I nev­er want to be estranged from any­one.” So it is hard to believe that it was his choice to dis­tance him­self.

We are free now- all who suf­fered with Father Michael -and of course Father Michael him­self. Beau­ti­ful days like today remind me of the days before Father M got so ill. Those were the days when he’d speak before begin­ning Mass, just beam­ing, and say  “What a glo­ri­ous, glo­ri­ous day! Isn’t God good?”

Dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ences in life’s spec­trum-per­haps that’s why I need­ed to go back and reread about the sad­ness and suf­fer­ing. Grand, grand lessons.….… how well Father Michael taught them, all of them.

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Sensing the Spirit

worshipHere is a true sto­ry. It is one of the high­lights and fond­est mem­o­ries of my life.  It was either late  fall 1980 or ear­ly 1981. I was expect­ing my third child , due in late Feb­ru­ary 1981. I had an appoint­ment at my obste­tri­cian for my reg­u­lar check­up. It was cold yet sun­ny out­side, but there was no snow. There had been some mois­ture which turned into small ice patch­es on the side­walks and streets.

At this peri­od of my life, we owned one car which my hus­band need­ed to get to and from his two jobs. It was a rough time, when he had to go imme­di­ate­ly from his full time job to the part-time evening job. He saw the kids only on week­ends. So any­way, I had to use the bus or cab ser­vice for any com­mutes beyond walk­ing dis­tance. On this par­tic­u­lar day, I had enough mon­ey to pay for a one-way cab trip to the doctor’s, but would have to take the bus back home.

I called the local Blue Cab num­ber and soon there was the sound of a horn in front of my house. I head­ed for the door near­est the curb, but the dri­ver told me to “Come around to the street side.” I got in and set­tled direct­ly behind the dri­ver-a young man wear­ing a base­ball cap. A talk radio sta­tion bab­bled as back­ground noise. He looked at  me in his rearview mir­ror and asked “Where are you going?” I gave the address, a dis­tinc­tive build­ing, about four miles away-a fif­teen minute ride .

Gosh, he was a talk­a­tive young man! He quick­ly turned the radio off so he could talk to me! I was always pret­ty qui­et and didn’t usu­al­ly open up to friend­ly cab dri­vers. But this guy was so engaging,so cour­te­ous. He talked and talked. We had an “eye to eye” con­ver­sa­tion, look­ing at each oth­er in the mir­ror. I couldn’t see his face, only his eyes. He asked a lot of ques­tions. One was: why I was head­ing to this par­tic­u­lar build­ing? I said “Well, I’m going to the doc­tor”. He replied with a “Oh no, are you ill?” “No”, I said ‚“just preg­nant! It’s a reg­u­lar check­up”. He con­grat­u­lat­ed me and then start­ed talk­ing about fam­i­lies, fam­i­ly size, school­ing chil­dren, types of preschool edu­ca­tion, Catholic edu­ca­tion. Such an inter­est­ing and informed young man!

He explained to me that he was ‘com­plet­ing stud­ies’ and won­dered if I wouldn’t mind answer­ing some ques­tions as it would help him with his research. Well, he had won me over with his kind and engag­ing per­son­al­i­ty, so I said sure. I real­ly want­ed to help him, he was that charm­ing. I spec­u­lat­ed that he was study­ing social work, psy­chol­o­gy or edu­ca­tion from how the con­ver­sa­tion had gone. I didn’t mind answer­ing his ques­tions. Some of them were sur­pris­ing­ly per­son­al, for exam­ple: “Why is there a five year gap between your last child and this new baby?”  Yes, that was one and the dri­ver  apol­o­gized for their nature , but explained again how they would help in his stud­ies .When I answered the ques­tions he would then pull over and write copi­ous notes on a clip­board.

While he ques­tioned me, he vol­un­teered some infor­ma­tion about him­self. He told me he was Cana­di­an and study­ing here in Chica­go. I told him I’d spent my hon­ey­moon in Québec. He was famil­iar with the Château Mon­te­bel­lo where we’d stayed and remarked that the G7 sum­mit would be held there the next sum­mer. I asked where he had come from in Cana­da. And I don’t remem­ber what he told me. I do remem­ber that as I ‘placed’ him geo­graph­i­cal­ly, I said ” Wow, you are a long way from home! ” He men­tioned his stud­ies here again and I asked if any of his fam­i­ly would vis­it or would be vis­it­ing (again I don’t recall if this was before or after Christ­mas) for the hol­i­days. But he said no, he’d had no vis­i­tors from home.

He began to talk fond­ly about his fam­i­ly in Cana­da. He missed them. It was a large fam­i­ly- again I don’t remem­ber the num­ber. But for me to remem­ber it as large; it would have to be at least sev­en chil­dren. I was sur­prised when he told me the age of his youngest sib­ling. Then he got quite somber and explained that his moth­er had died when he was in his teens . The youngest chil­dren were so very young to deal with the loss. I was so sad, hear­ing this. I asked if his father had had help from extend­ed fam­i­ly. He said “Oh yes, thank God for fam­i­ly and for our neigh­bors”.

So for fif­teen min­utes, maybe a bit more, I had this most engag­ing, inter­est­ing con­ver­sa­tion with a com­plete stranger. We con­tin­ued to chat as we arrived in front of the doctor’s office. I moved to the mid­dle of the back seat and leaned for­ward to final­ly look this guy in the face. He was writ­ing on his clip­board. I said to him “You’ve talked so much about your studies…what exact­ly are you study­ing?” I stared at his pro­file as he smiled and con­tin­ued to write. He said “Aw, you’ll nev­er guess.” So I kind of took this as a chal­lenge and I’m think­ing, ‘this guy is just so nice,seems so good, so kind, so spe­cial’. And it popped into my head, I hes­i­tat­ed, but some­thing insis­tent­ly told me ‘go ahead, say it !!!’  And I blurt­ed out “You’re study­ing in the sem­i­nary and you’re going to be a priest”. Well, he was so stunned, he slow­ly turned to look at me and then he just stared at me, eyes wide open. Didn’t say a word. There was no response. I then felt embar­rassed and start­ed to apol­o­gize, but he stopped me. He became so very seri­ous and qui­et. I paid him then, awk­ward­ly, but he wouldn’t take my tip.

So the dri­ver got out of the car and walked around, fid­dled with my door and even­tu­al­ly got it open. He had tak­en his cap off and was hold­ing it in both hands, stand­ing there wait­ing. I stud­ied him quick­ly and imme­di­ate­ly thought he seemed old­er than the col­lege stu­dent I had assumed he was.As I got out he walked up to me and took my arm. He was a short­er guy, slight­ly built and I said “Oh no, I’m just fine”. But he said “No, it’s icy, you might slip” and gripped more tight­ly. So I walked along with him and I did slip and he braced me, so I didn’t fall. We got to the door and I said “I’ll be fine”. Ever since I’d said those words to this man I had lit­er­al­ly felt this ‘buzz’ for my bold­ness and then, too, for the obvi­ous, seri­ous effect they had had on this kind man. I was mys­ti­fied that I’d spo­ken those words aloud- so unlike me!

I went into the build­ing alone and stood by the ele­va­tors, still feel­ing the adren­a­line or some­thing. I want­ed to jump or yell or run.…some kind of very pleas­ant ener­gy. I wait­ed there a cou­ple min­utes. Sud­den­ly the dri­ver was stand­ing there beside me. He hand­ed me a post-it on which he had writ­ten the cab com­pa­ny num­ber and some weird nick­name ref­er­enc­ing Cana­da (which I can’t remem­ber). It was some­thing sil­ly like ‘Steve the Canuck’, or ‘Win­nipeg Joe”. I looked at him and smiled. He moved to stand in front of me and said “Please call and ask for me any­time you need a ride. I’ll be hap­py to take you any­where, no charge.” He was still very seri­ous in his demeanor, but again with such kind­ness. He then said he want­ed to return to take me home from my appoint­ment and that I should call him.But I felt I had shak­en him up enough for one day. So we said good­bye. A few months lat­er, I asked for him when I ordered a cab.…he ‘no longer worked there’ I was told.

That day, after my appoint­ment, I was still so wired, I walked all the way home!!!  I was so full of joy about what had hap­pened. As I walked all those blocks, I was often com­pelled to extend my arms up into the air for the pure joy of it. I kept think­ing “Praise God”. I just couldn’t con­tain my hap­pi­ness; it was as though I had wit­nessed a great thing.

For years I kept that post-it in my wal­let. I prayed for “Steve the Canuck” every time I saw it. I prayed for him at bed­time for years. I still pray for him and I often won­der what hap­pened to him. I am con­fi­dent that some day , in this life or the next, the Lord will tell me. I’ll bet it’s a great sto­ry.

Here is the Father Michael ‘connection’—from the day I heard Father called a ‘seer’ (see Blessed Seer), I also had the sense that I had met him before. In the vestibule, I saw him in pro­file and instant­ly felt I knew him from some­where. I know for that to be true a lot of dates/facts would have to gibe. From what I have tried to check and match up, I don’t think they do.

Long ago, I sent this sto­ry as an email to Father Michael. He nev­er respond­ed to it, not even with a “Gee, that was a great sto­ry” — which would have been the norm for him. Kind of odd.….so it leaves things open. I often won­der if the rea­son I saw the dri­ver as old­er with his hat off -was that he was los­ing his hair.

Isn’t it won­der­ful to think that this could be about Father Michael ? Some things were so uncan­ny. No mat­ter what though, I’ll always trea­sure my unique expe­ri­ence from long ago .

Father Michael would have turned 62 today.

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After All, We Are An Easter People

549443_873708899357112_6993983978990308286_nIt’s just after mid­night on East­er Sun­day. I attend­ed the East­er vig­il at St Vincent’s. It was excit­ing to wel­come the new­ly bap­tized and con­firmed mem­bers of our church. That was a true high­light of the litur­gy. I’m glad I attend­ed for that rea­son.

But gosh, the homi­ly was such a down­er. Just my insignif­i­cant opin­ion.  Our priest chose to empha­size the neg­a­tive (dead- as he put it) atti­tudes in our lives.….on East­er!! No encour­age­ment, no empa­thy, no attempt to understand.….so depress­ing.  It left me feel­ing sad, for I know every one  of the con­gre­ga­tion has expe­ri­enced these feel­ings.

To counter this I’m going to share some won­der­ful words of Father Michael from his emails to me. I need­ed to be lift­ed up after that homi­ly; read­ing them has  helped immense­ly. Hope you all will enjoy the POSITIVE:

After our first ‘in-per­son’ meet­ing-

I was thrilled to see you this morn­ing “in the sac­risty”!!!!! You are so joy­ful and faith­filled and your fam­i­ly is lucky hav­ing you pray­ing for them.Come often just to laugh or say hi !

         If you want to chat about any­thing, call any­time.

         Bless­ings,

Father Michael


Know you are wel­come any­time to share any­thing. You can decide when it is good or the spir­it guides you. I’m thrilled with your sto­ry. God is so pow­er­ful and yet we still need to hear these kinds of sto­ries.

        Hope the rest of the day is great.. Keep COOL as best as you can.

Bless­ings
Fr. Michael op


    I don’t mind at all receiv­ing your emails. I am sor­ry to read your son’s view of faith. Some­times I   won­der how our chil­dren turn so far from faith after being formed in it. But with God all things are pos­si­ble and that anger/hurt may turn to a new zeal. Maybe now that he is look­ing for a job, he will be more open to God’s grace and gifts.

        Bless­ings on all your wor­ries but grate­ful­ness for your faith.

Father Michael


        Thanks for that fun­ny sto­ry about your Aunt. Every­one should have an aunt like that.

       I am so touched by your gen­er­ous offer. Hon­est­ly, that is hard­ly nec­es­sary. I have loved my priest­hood these 25 years although there have been painful times. But God has always stuck with me. Hard­ly a day goes by where I don’t pray in grat­i­tude for his fideli­ty. I am awed by it.

It is true that the most dev­as­tat­ing moment in my aca­d­e­m­ic life led me to the Domini­cans. I have often thought of that. Today, it was com­fort­ing to know some­one of the sta­tus of St. Alphon­sus Liguori had a ter­ri­ble pro­fes­sion­al expe­ri­ence that led to great things.

I’m off to Cana­da on Fri­day. Say a prayer that all will be well with the fam­i­ly. I just want pleas­ant weath­er and to swim.

Bless­ings
Fr. Michael


After an unpleas­ant, touchy ‘dis­cus­sion’ of com­mon stereo­types:

I once did a talk with a Domini­can sis­ter and it was on stereo­types. We would men­tion a cul­ture and the audi­ence had to do a spon­ta­neous response. It was astound­ing. For almost every cul­ture the first response was neg­a­tive. For exam­ple Irish equals drunk, Ger­man equals rigid etc. Tru­ly, I have heard the Pol­ish jokes but I have always been dis­mayed because of the bril­liance of our Pol­ish broth­ers and the faith that saved a nation when so much of East­ern Europe lost it. The human con­di­tion seems to move quick­ly to neg­a­tive respons­es which I see as the result of orig­i­nal sin.

One bless­ing I have always thanked God for is that I usu­al­ly can see pos­i­tive things even in the ter­ri­ble real­i­ties of life. Some say I have rose col­ored glass­es, oth­ers just say I am naive. But I do believe God wants me to love and to live by pos­i­tive rein­force­ment. There is a school of psy­chol­o­gy that is direct­ed at heal­ing by affir­ma­tions that help the patient.

Any­way, I’m glad you are blessed with find­ing the good in peo­ple.

Also well done at the casi­no. I just know you have good kar­ma!!!!!

Bless­ings
Fr. Michael


It is a won­der­ment to me that even in talk­ing about  neg­a­tive, unpleas­ant things, Father Michael was able to see the good, the hope­ful, the pos­i­tive. It is so good to see his words and remem­ber.

I feel much better—–Happy East­er to all!

 

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Longing and Not Letting Go

2009+Ordination+(279)-1It’s April Fool’s Day, a year to the day that we buried our Father Michael. It’s also the good and kind Father Louie’s birth­day. I’ll always remem­ber what a fit­ting homi­ly he gave to hon­or his best friend a year ago.

 The recent memo­r­i­al Mass for Father Michael  seemed in some ways to cel­e­brate a per­son that I had nev­er known. I only got to know Father Michael right before his can­cer diag­no­sis, when he was suf­fer­ing from unknown stom­ach ail­ments. Although I had heard about his priest­ly par­ty­ing, he was tak­ing meds and being cau­tious at this time. At Mass there were point­ed acknowl­edg­ments giv­en to cer­tain peo­ple and of favors help­ful to Father Michael. It was a very, very exclu­sive group. I think the recog­ni­tion could have been ren­dered to those fifteen(or so)people pri­vate­ly. The rest of us thou­sands of friends couldn’t expect to be men­tioned , but it seemed so incred­i­bly nar­row for the full scope of Father’s friend­ships to be delib­er­ate­ly and point­ed­ly ignored.The Father Michael I knew, who ‘talked the talk’ and ‘walked the walk’ about exclu­sion, would sure­ly have been put off by this.

So if you were one of the thou­sands of oth­er friends, like me, there was a feel­ing of empti­ness, of being exclud­ed, of not being appre­ci­at­ed. All those in atten­dance loved Father Michael. Most like­ly all prayed for him devot­ed­ly through­out his ill­ness. We wept at his death. There was no lack of acknowl­edg­ment of his sig­nif­i­cance on our part. Our pas­tor waxed on about our hav­ing grat­i­tude-one of his old themes regard­ing Father M. He was sin­cere and well-mean­ing and right, as usu­al. And the priest preach­ing the homi­ly empha­sized what a good, good priest Father Michael had been. He spec­i­fied how Father Michael had served us so well in the most impor­tant moments of our lives. He talked about Father shar­ing our joy, ill­ness, suf­fer­ing, loss. But both priests lacked the warmth and con­vic­tion that comes with express­ing the whole truth. What they said was all def­i­nite­ly true, I can’t fault them. But I know some­thing was miss­ing. I think the homilist touched upon it slight­ly when he said “We think of Father Michael with long­ing”.

I think they rec­og­nize our need to remem­ber Father Michael. We’re going to build the hall in Father’s name-a good thing. We can con­tin­ue to have memo­r­i­al Mass­es-great. We have a schol­ar­ship fund and a preach­ing fund. But how do we address the long­ing for Father Michael?  How do our priests assist us in this?  They are the Order of Preach­ers; it is their charism to tell and instruct us.

I know the long­ing for Father Michael is the long­ing for God as embod­ied so beau­ti­ful­ly in Father Michael. It is so strong that we can­not let it go-even after a year. I’m anx­ious­ly wait­ing for our good Domini­cans to start talk­ing.

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