Saturday, January 13, 2007

Friends Young and Old

Hearing from Friends Young and Older This First Week of Ordinary Time has sped by. Much of my time was spent in preparing an order for Italian titles. It was faxed yesterday. I found out by email today that it was received and the Sisters in Rome are planning to fill it soon.Today was a bit colder than the unseasonable warm weather which we have been experiencing.Today, Saturday, people came into our center in small groups. One of the first groups was a young mother of five. Today she only had the two youngest boys with her. Her oldest who are girls attend Italian classes nearby at Villa Colombo. We are in what was once a very Italian neighborhood. It is predominantly Italian, but now more multi-cultural. Folks of all colors and ethnic backgrounds came in today.One of our Saturday regulars in Toronto is a gentleman who is a devout New England Patriots' fan. He went on vacation to Boston and bought himself a nice Patriots' jacket. I did not have a chance to tell him that we have to pray that they win tomorrow's game against San Diego!Another Saturday "regular" is a business man who spends time in Eucharistic adoration in our chapel. He is getting lots of spiritual nourishment with books from our shelves.Our center also houses our chapel. We open the chapel to the public as long as the center is open. It is moving to see the prayer intentions which people write in the chapel's prayer book.Some people write out their feelings, their anxieties, their cares for family members who are alienated, or in difficulty. Others are truly grateful to God for all the favors He gives them.I received a very upbeat letter from a young priest friend in New England. He has been ordained just a year and a half. His schedule is overflowing with pastoral activities.At times he is called on to be with people at the most painful times of their lives. Father Michael accompanied State Troopers when they had to break the news to a young husband that his wife and unborn baby had died in a horrific car accident. Father accompanied the man as he identified the bodies of his wife and child. It seems that neither he nor his wife practiced any faith and were not familiar with prayer. Here is part of Fr. Michael's description: "Because no family members were present in the area, the man was facing waiting hours for family from out of state. I stayed with him at his home for the rest of the evening and morning until family arrived. It was one of the saddest experiences I ever had and it was hard to imagine how the man must have felt. I will never forget this experience....I am simply amazed at what Christ asks of us sometimes. It is amazing how priests are placed in situations that are humanly impossible but with the grace of Christ are possible."From another New England priest I received an invitation to celebrate his 50th anniversary of priestly ordination. This priest, Father Hugh, was a US Navy chaplain for more than 20 years. I met him in Guam when I was driving a stick-shift truck on Nimitz Hill. Since the phones were not operational at the time, Father was tailgating us so he could order some religious books from us. Years later, when we were both reassigned to Boston, we would laugh about the "crazy driver" in Guam who would not leave us. I have always wanted Father "O", as we call him, to write his memoirs of his Naval experience. He told us once that in a single day during the Vietnam War he offered Mass eight times: he was ferried via helicopter from one ship to another since so few chaplains were available. Father worked well beyong "retirement" age in his Boston assignment--which included two churches with very diverse congregations. I am privileged to call both the young and the seasoned priest my friends. Another priest friend (since there is never a two without a three, right) is a retreat director in Italy. He sends a seasonal letter with suggestions for the spiritual life. I shared his insights with our Pauline Cooperators on Thursday night.Here are a few highlights from Father: since we will be celebrating St. Paul's Conversion this month, we can take a lesson from what happened to Paul. Jesus told him "It will be told to you what you have to do." That "telling" did not usually come with any fanfare. It was mediated through persons like Ananias and Barnabas, and people who needed his ministry; it came through that "tiny still voice" within him that was the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; it came through events and circfumstances. We all have people around us whose kindnesses to us can be as "visits" from the Lord. The Word and the Eucharist at the Liturgy are visible signs of the loving presence of the Father. It's up to us to have an inner "silence" so we can listen to the voice of the Spirit within and without us, and see how God's "visits" to us are mediated during each day.Tomorrow I will be going to Brampton, Ontario for a parish display of our books and A/V's at St. Jerome's parish.I will let you know how it goes.God bless you!Sister Mary Peter


Lisa said...

S. Mary Peter, thank you for this very thought-provoking and inspiring post.

Ginny said...

With the weddig feast at Cana we are being called to sparkle and be joyful. Thank you for your weekly update