October 23, 2017
Prayer by Fr. Konzen, S.M., Principal
Good morning. Yesterday I spent some time talking by phone to someone I knew growing up in Ohio. Her family and our family were friends, and I regularly served Mass with the guy who became her husband. Their story is unique. They went to the prom with each other as seniors and, after that, went their separate ways for 20 years or so, neither marrying, and then met up at a wedding and decided to start dating, both in their late 30’s and having known each other all their lives. I was there in 1988 to officiate at their wedding. About a month ago, Doug had a stroke, out of the blue, and he never recovered. He was buried this past week. So, in talking to his wife yesterday, she said, “I guess we didn’t talk about this possibility when we were getting ready to be married.” And I said, “No, we talked about the meaning of ‘all the days of my life’ and ‘until death do us part,’ but we didn’t imagine scenarios in which a spouse dies and the other is left to carry on.”
I contrast that with the wildly exuberant display I saw at the end of the football game Friday night against Blessed Trinity, when there was this tide of students rushing onto the field, and congratulations for the team, and everyone singing the Alma Mater in a state of euphoria. These are the diverse components that make up our lives. We adults like to see that young people have more of those really happy moments than the really sad moments, but the trip to becoming an adult is about making room for the full range of human experience and knowing how, using our faith, to make as much sense as we can of the big up’s and the big down’s in our lives and all that lies in between. We would like to hang onto the high’s and to rule out the low’s, but we know it’s not realistic. We embrace them both as part of our experience as Christians, as part of the life of Christ that we say we have taken on when we were baptized, confirmed, and fed on or brought into the Body of Christ.
An Italian writer, Carlo Carretto, captured these alternating feelings in a prayer that offers a way to see them both as part of our faith and a way to make room for them both in our lives, and here is the prayer:
In the name… My Lord Jesus Christ, two graces I beg you to grant me before I die:
the first is that in my lifetime I may feel that sorrow that you underwent
in the hour of your blessed and generous passion;
the second is that I may feel in my heart the greatness of love
that you, the Son of God, had for all in the world and that
allowed you to undergo the sacrifice you offered for us sinners.
And now, praying for the soul of Douglas Palmer and for his wife Marilyn, I add to the Carretto prayer: Help us, O God, to be your servant in the best of times and in the worst of times and to praise your goodness when we are awash in it and when we are barely aware of it—you who want our eternal happiness and offer us Jesus Christ to lead the way to that happiness. It is in his name we pray today. Amen.