Growing up, I was always involved with sports, be it sandlot softball, Little League baseball, roller hockey or street tag [...]
The weather is turning warmer, dare I say even hot, and the mornings have that wonderful feeling, a freshness that comes with the smells of green. There is no doubt that summer is just about here. Families will scope out various locations for those family trips, perhaps a weekend of camping, a visit to another state or that long week of fun at the summer cabin. It’s great to get away; the change of scenery refreshes the brain and allows a needed rest from the normal routine. Vacations are needed.
The vacations I took as a boy were often a week’s visit to my aunt and uncle. It was terrific for the cousins, as we played together. However, I am not too sure my aunt and uncle received any down time or considered my arrival as their vacation. Their family increased by one when “little Jerome” invaded their home.
May and June are the months for anniversaries, graduations, weddings and, in the Catholic Church, priestly ordinations. Recently, at the archdiocesan priest assembly at Lake Lawn, we recognized those celebrating 25, 40, 50, 60 and 65 years of priesthood. Bishop Sklba, celebrating 50 years of priesthood, gave an inspiring homily reflecting on the struggles and the joys encountered by all who follow the Lord. As priests gathered, they reminisced about their days in the seminary and shared stories of their early days in the priesthood.
I was ordained May 14, 1975. It was a glorious spring day, 70 degrees, with white billowy clouds and blue skies. There were 38 in my class and many of us had ministerial connections to the various parishes within the Chicago Archdiocese. The seminary chapel was jammed. Our ordinations were not only a personal celebration of an accomplishment but a celebration of the men and women who contributed to our journey to the altar. There were many – priests, family and friends – who laid claim to our decision to be ordained. In some sense they were right to claim ownership. Even though there is always a personal commitment on the part of the one being ordained, there are still so many who make up the history of one’s decision.
I was ordained a priest in 1975. My pastoral experience as an ordained minister has always included the distinct office of the diaconate. The order of the diaconate was restored in the post-Vatican II era. For centuries, the order of deacon was relegated to a liturgical function designated in the celebration of the Latin Mass.
Many of us with a good share of gray hair remember when a solemn high Mass was offered and priests performed the role of deacon and sub deacon. There were a number of famous deacons in the early days of the church: St. Stephen and St. Lawrence were martyred for the faith. A number of people have the mistaken impression that St. Francis of Assisi was a priest when, in fact, he was a deacon.
John Paul II has certainly left his mark on the church and for that matter the world itself. His intellectual thought, pastoral leadership and teaching style have been characterized in biography after biography. But I don’t believe anyone can capture the true Karol Wojtyla without understanding the mystic.
Many stories tell of either Bishop or Archbishop Wojtyla visiting a convent or religious house and asking permission to pray in the chapel where the Eucharist was reserved. A sister would often find him prostrate before the tabernacle. His prayer life, especially in the celebration of the sacraments, defined his person. He was a believer who was in communion with God. His legacy will be debated.
This is the week that we wear green and red. On March 17 everyone is Irish and the “wearing of the green” depicts a proud identification with the contributions and influence of the sons and daughters of Ireland. Even in my totally Polish household, we all sat as a family before the television screen watching John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara develop their somewhat stormy relationship in the “Quiet Man.” Of course we know that the movie depicted stereotypes, however, at the very foundation of the movie was a love of country, family and faith.