Monday, October 19, 2015

The Communion of Saints, My Mother Irene, Our Mother Mary

Oblates of Mary Immaculate chapel at the National Shrine. Photo by Bob Garrow from My Year of Faith.
At the closing of the church year, we celebrate All Saints November 1, All Souls November 2, Christ the King the last Sunday, this year November 22. Jesus makes us people saints, His friends. He makes us a communion of saints of heaven and purgatory and earth, His family of friends. He makes us His city, His kingdom during time and eternity, the city, the kingdom of His Father by His Breath, us brothers and sisters people and angels with earth and universe, our family with our home and duration.

At the end of our life and history, of our graced yes or sinful no to Him and His way for us, if we end as His friends and not as His enemies, Jesus will raise our bodies gloriously and halo us. Prior to this, He will vision and mansion us, He will dowry us. We will be His family of friends made through His passion and resurrection and ours with and like and through Him.

We look forward to meeting the saints, especially friends and family members. January 5, 1939, my mother Irene was killed on Highway 66 near Amarillo, Texas, in the panhandle, more precisely near Pampa. In the front seat were my father driving; myself, age 9, in the middle because carsick; and my mother. This was before seat belts. At the impact of the sideswipe collision with another car, she and I were thrown out of our car. She lay silent, blood streaming from her mouth, either dying or dead, me nearby unable to move because of injury. This was the last time she was ever in my vision. Because of my injury and long stay in the local hospital, it was not possible for me to participate in her burial from our home parish, Sacred Heart, Rock Island, Illinois. After that, some wonderful women helped me grow up and mature: Aunt Annie Nelson (she called herself a shirttail relation); Ethel my father's second wife and a friend of my mother from their time working together at a lumber company; Sr. Lucy BVM (Luciola then, a young woman from Chicago and our choir teacher). Most of all, Mary Mother of Jesus and of us each and all.

The Catholic teaching of Jesus about the communion of saints was a huge blessing for me dealing with my longing to be close to her, a longing even to this day at age 86. A few years ago, there was a movie that touched me deeply, "I Am David." It is the true story of a boy and a mother separated after escape from a Slavic communist nation and drawn together years later in Stockholm. At their airport encounter, he said, "I am David." My hope is to meet my mother in heaven and identify myself, "I am Don." She can tell me her story and song, and she can hear mine. May all we brothers and sisters together and singly rejoice in the hope that Jesus gives us during our time for our eternity.

In second year of college at an OMI minor seminary, we had a course on writing. From then, at age 20, this is my portrait of my mother, even now my memory of her:

Mother and her middle child early on
My mother was a loving and a lovable person. She loved people, play, life, and God. She was loved by everyone who knew her. 
Since her father worked in a foundry, her childhood was spent in the poorer section of town, yet she was happy and her large, brown eyes and mischievous smile radiated her happiness to others. The old maids of the neighborhood vied with one another in treating her to a piece of candy. 
She liked to play, whether it was with dolls or a baseball. Perhaps her fondness for play accounts for her low grades in school, since her mentality was of good caliber. She spent many an hour on the Sisters' platform for laughing or inattention. 
After graduating from high school and a brief business course, my mother worked in the main office of a lumber company. She was a favorite among the girls of the office. Her good nature was irresistible. The girls dubbed her "soft heart" because she was a shoulder to the unhappy and to the unpopular girls. However, in front of men, she was bashful and shy. When my dad, an employee of the same company, asked her for a date, my mother was swept off her feet. Her answer was yes; a year later, she was answering, "I do."  
Since my dad was earning a fair salary, they were soon able to buy a house of their own. In due time they peopled the house with three children. My mother was an ordinary housewife. She enjoyed playing with us children and experimenting with new recipes and patterns. 
My dad bought her many things. Whether he gave her an iron or an ice cream cone, she always received it with a childlike joy that fills the giver with happiness. Yet she was conscious of her poor relatives, and had a magic way of helping them; they felt they were doing her a favor. 
Civil war divided our family, since my mother was a Cub fan and my dad a Sox fan. Her favorite player was Gabby Hartnett. One of the thrills of her life was seeing a Notre Dame/Northwestern football game, for she was an ardent Notre Dame radio fan and one of their most loyal unofficial alumnae. 
When nearing her middle thirties, my mother was critically afflicted with cancer. An operation failed to cure her. Although she suffered much, she never complained. Once while we were shopping, she suddenly had such pains in one arm that she could not even hold a small package with it and had to go home at once. However, God spared her a slow, painful death; He took her life in an automobile accident. 
My mother had loved God in her own simple way. She strove to obey the commandments and was a loyal member of the Church. The memory of my mother often cheers the hearts of her family and friends. We still share her love; we still love her.
My mother Irene helps me appreciate Mary wife of Joseph, our Mother.

Father Don

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Mission and Freedom, Evangelization and Dialogue, Exhortation and Invitation

Our merciful Father speaks His Word, our Jesus of Mary and Joseph to us and through Him breathes His Breath in us to make us Their family of friends, to Their image and likeness (Gal 4). Jesus is our way and truth and life (Jn 14) from His merciful Father and by His Breath through and in and towards His Catholic Church for us His world. He invites us brothers and sisters each and all to freely share His way for us to flourish humanly, radically, and fully. This is our identity and life and mission.

Jesus wants us together and singly His world to belong to His gathering of friends and witnesses through His merciful word and sacrament in the need of our heart and conscience and every misery (Jn 17). He wants us to belong to this gathering, this Church, outwardly and inwardly (Mt 28). We belong to His gathering outwardly by being tuned to His shepherding and teaching and sanctifying, by following commandments and prayers and beliefs and rites through and in and toward His Church. We belong inwardly to His shepherding and teaching and sanctifying by attitudes and actions of our trust and faith and hope in His merciful Father and by our help and love and justice and chastity toward us brothers and sisters, and this by His Breath. Our outward belonging as symbol and source is for our inward belonging. We are always to be moving toward more radically and fully belonging inwardly and outwardly to her His Church for His world. We people of world religions and philosophies relate to His Church for His world by our goodwill responding to His revelation and grace, by our goodwill human and secular and hopefully religious through and to that degree in His Church. Better, we Christians belong partially as members; best, we Catholics belong fully as members, always through and to that degree in His Church. We Catholics want to always become more radically and fully His Catholic followers for His world with and like and through Him Our Jesus, humble of heart, resting and refreshing us weary and burdened (Mt 11).

With John Paul II we initiated the second 500 years of evangelization in America (North, Central, South) October 14, 1992, and we initiated the third 1,000 years of evangelization for the world at large (five regions of Africa, Asia, Oceania, Europe, America) since the incarnation of our Lord Jesus for our redemption especially through His passion and resurrection, January 6, 2000. Evangelization and dialogue, mission and freedom, exhortation and invitation go hand in hand. Our evangelization is through dialogue with our brothers and sisters, through the conversation of prayer and thought and service with them. We grow together in sharing with them, in hearing and speaking, in receiving and giving. Schools and media of social communication are avenues of dialogue. Yesterday today tomorrow Jesus wants to set the earth on fire with his merciful way transforming our miserable and cruel way (Lk 12). He exhorts us brothers and sisters to catch and spread the fire of His mercy revolution in His world (1 Jn 4).

This reflection is based on the Bible, Old Testament and New Testament; on Paul VI, Evangelii nuntiandi (1975); John Paul II, Redemptoris missio (1990); Benedict XVI, Deus caritas est (2005); International Theological Commission, "Christianity and the World Religions" (1997).

Father Don

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Sacraments of Eucharist and of Orders, Offering Self for the Other

We remember Jesus by serving our brothers and sisters, by washing their feet (John 13). We remember Jesus by eating His body given up for us and by drinking His blood poured out for us (Luke 22). At the last supper Jesus offers His heart for us, His offering self for us His brothers and sisters before His merciful Father by His Breath. He, Child of Mary and Joseph and of His Father by His Breath, speaks to us the meaning and purpose of His life and history for our lives and history to be witnessed in the coming passion and resurrection and ascension and the outpouring of his Breath in us. We remember Jesus offering self for the others.

The sacrament of the body and blood of Jesus is symbol and source of Him the Merciful to us the miserable in our heart and conscience and every trouble. We remember Him through His word and bread and wine meal that makes Him truly present offering His body and blood among and for and with us to be heard and offered and received and approached by us. This way He makes us more trustful in His merciful Father and more helpful to our brothers and sisters, and this by His Breath in our hearts.

The Last Supper, by A.N. Mironov
This sacrament is the reality and mystery of our Jesus of Mary and Joseph offering Himself among and for and with us. We believe in and love our Jesus in this sacrament. We celebrate each day this sacrament. We try to live each day this sacrament. We want our heartbeating and breathing and moving to be: this is my body for you my brothers and sisters, this is my blood for you my brothers and sisters, with and like and through our Jesus and His friends, especially Mary and Joseph before His merciful Father by His Breath.

Priestly people of baptism and confirmation and the priest servants of orders, we want to be the family of friends of Joseph and Mary and Jesus. We want to be His family of friends in His heart and hands, as His heart and hands, offering among and for and with and helping us brothers and sisters. His words of institution and consecration that make present this offering tone and shape our hearts and hands: this is my body for you, this is my blood for you. His offering kindles our offering.

This reflection is based on the Gospel of Luke and of John, Benedict XVI's Sacramentum caritatis and 2006 homily at Chrism Mass, John Paul II's last Holy Thursday letter to priests, and St. Thomas Aquinas on sacrament and eucharist and orders.

Father Don

Friday, October 2, 2015

Mary and Joseph, Vatican I and II, and the Family

Mary and Joseph are visible influences in Vatican II. The council began October 11, 1962, at that time the Motherhood of Mary, and ended December 8, 1965, the Immaculate Conception of Mary. At the end of the council's third period, November 21, 1964, the Presentation of Mary, Paul VI proclaimed Mary Mother of the Church, in conjunction with Lumen gentium, the main teaching of the council on the church. Indeed, Mary's title Mother of the Church can be grasped as an insight into the entire teaching of the Council. She, together with her husband and friend Joseph, is the best of us in the church of Jesus; more than anyone else, they personify, embody, proclaim, and celebrate the Church (Lumen gentium, Chapter VIII).

Pope John XXIII
Joseph is the patron of Vatican II, so named by John XXIII, who entrusted the council to his care and prayer. At the insistence of this pope, the name of Joseph was entered into the Roman Eucharistic Prayer during the council's first period.

Mary and Joseph are visible influences in Vatican I. Pius IX taught solemnly the Immaculate Conception of Mary on December 8, 1854, on the day of this celebration. Mary is redeemed by Jesus, Child of her and of our merciful Father, and sanctified by his Holy Breath more radically and fully than any other person in our created family. Before this solemn teaching, in 1830, Catherine Labouré was missioned by Mary to spread the medal, now called miraculous, with the inscription, "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee." After this solemn teaching, in 1858 Bernadette experienced Mary identifying herself, "I am the Immaculate Conception," and was missioned to make the Lourdes cave a special prayer place. Nearer to our time, in 1917, the three children of Fatima, Francisco, Jacinta, and Lucia, experienced the Immaculate Heart of Mary and were missioned to make Fatima likewise a special prayer place. Holy Mary attracts us her sinful children to pray with her to her and our Jesus for our needs and concerns. Pius IX on December 8, 1870, at the end of Vatican I, named Joseph patron of the universal Church. So Mary and Joseph were prominent at the time of this conciliar teaching.

Pope Pius IX
Our Catholic Church of Jesus for his world develops like this acorn into this oak tree, like this boy into this man, like this girl into this woman. She does not atrophy nor fluctuate, but develops always the same, yet differently, for people of each time and place and enslavement and culture and originality. Vatican I (1869-1870) develops into Vatican II (1962-1965). The solemn teaching of Pius IX about the immaculate graced conception of Mary in 1854 develops into the solemn teaching of Pius XII about the bodily glorious assumption of Mary in 1950. Teaching about and devotion to Mary and Joseph develops into that of  today during that same time stretch. The family of Joseph and Mary and Jesus is light and fire for our family of creatures, our human and angelic family of persons, our human family, our Catholic Church family, our immediate family of husband and wife and their children brothers and sisters, ultimately the Family of Friends that is our merciful Father and his Child, our Jesus, and His Holy Breath, that we are to image and be like, we people and angels with our earth and universe during our time and eternity.

Sculpture by Timothy P. Schmalz at Holy Family Church, Whitefish Bay, WI. 
As a created family of friends, we are to offer self for the others playfully, passionately, happily, to the image and likeness of the Trinity.

These reflections were inspired by the Gospel of John and St. Thomas Aquinas on grace and love. We are not to use the others for self as the isolation of enemies. For this, we need to be graced now and then glorified forever. We need to be mercied and familied and friended and fathered and mothered and brothered and sistered. We are to mercy and family and friend and father and mother and brother and sister. We need to be the family of friends of Mary and Joseph and Jesus to the image and likeness of the Family of Friends of our merciful Father and his Child our Jesus and his Breath, of our merciful Lover and his Beloved, our Jesus, and his Love.

Father Don