Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I Need and Have Witnesses in My Life

Today I Visited Sophie Who Will Be 100 in August!
On Saturday at 4pm, I helped out a priest who I know from seminary.  He had a wedding elsewhere, so I covered his parish Mass.  For the most part, I haven't really seen this priest since we were ordained.  He's from another diocese.  Just from the brief interactions I had with his people before Mass, it was clear that these people love their pastor.  At the end of Mass, I mentioned to them how great their parish was and I said, "And you have a great pastor."  Their reaction really surprised me.  About 300 or 400 parishioners all yelled back things like, "Yes, we know!  Yes we do!  We love him." It was really beautiful because it was so spontaneous and genuine.  It is really something beautiful to see this kind of love.  I said the Mass there the next morning at 8, but the pastor was back. So, I just observed his interactions with the people before and after Mass.  Again, it was something very beautiful.  He knew them.  He said things like, "Oh hi!  I got your message and will call you tomorrow." Or, "Hi, tell your wife I will be stopping by with communion this week."  

After that, I drove basically from one end of our diocese to the 
The Baptism of Markus
other to my former parish in order to do a baptism for a young couple with whom I share a friendship.  I not only baptized their newest son today, but I also had the privilege in the past of baptizing their older son and the mother (she as an adult, not as an infant)!  It is very beautiful to witness people raising their children in the Faith.  

Before the baptism, I went to visit one of my old communion calls.  Her name is Sophie and in August she will be 100.  Sharp as a tack.  And perpetually funny.  One of the things I love about Sophie is that she tells it like it is.  She always gives me a good laugh.  More than that, she's just a great Catholic.  Well into her 90's, Sophie attended daily Mass and her home continues to be a place where parishioners--and priests--always come to visit.  

As I entered for the baptism, the Mass had just ended, so I got to see a good number of folks who were still milling about and chatting.  It was great to see such wonderful people.  The pastor who succeeded me had everything ready for me and was able to exchange some brief greetings with me before heading out to one of his other parishes.  He now pastors three parishes!  Pastoring three parishes is no easy task.  It is good to see that the people appreciate the enormous task that he has and that they support and love him.  For me, it was just great to see these people whom I will always love.

After that, I drove back down to Boston in order to say Mass at Boston University. Yesterday was the due date for the husband and wife team who play the music for our Mass.  I told them that if the baby were born on June 28th--the due date--they would have no choice but to name the baby Irenaeus because the 28th is St. Irenaeus' feast day.  Alas, they were there singing--beautifully--tonight, June 29th, so I guess Irenaeus is not in the cards.  I told them that if they can hold out to July 16th, that is the Feast of Our Lady of Carmel and they can name their child, "Carmella."  Besides not being huge fans of the name, it seems they are not interested in holding out to the 16th.  In any event, it was beautiful to see this young couple--married for just over a year--singing and praising God together while awaiting the birth of their first child.

In the congregation was a young couple who will be married at Boston University next month.  Again, it was just really beautiful to be there and to see them praying together as they advance towards the Sacrament of Marriage.  Along the way, as a priest, you get to meet many couples and some of them just strike you as people who fill your heart with joy.  They are such a couple.  I look forward to their wedding.

Today was the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.  They were not only apostles, but they were also martyrs--witnesses.  Their willingness to remain faithful to Christ even to the point of shedding their blood is a source of encouragement.  This weekend, I encountered many witnesses.  Married couples, engaged couples, expectant parents, priests, a high school kid who asked if he could call me and go out to lunch during the summer, college students who came to Mass in a boiling hot chapel, parishioners, and parents who were baptizing their their baby boy.  I need witnesses in my life.  The Church needed Peter and Paul.  But, it also needs contemporary witnesses.  I need witnesses who provide to me good example.  They encourage me.  For me, this is the beauty of the Church.

I drove all over the place this weekend and everywhere I went, I encountered witnesses to Christ. For that, I am truly grateful.

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