Wednesday, October 29, 2014

TRUSTING IN GOD'S WILL


"Many things happen that God does not will. But he still permits them, in his wisdom, and they remain a stumbling block or scandal to our minds. God asks us to do all we can to eliminate evil. But despite our efforts, there is always a whole set of circumstances which we can do nothing about, which are not necessarily willed by God but nevertheless are permitted by him, and which God invites us to consent to trustingly and peacefully, even if they make us suffer and cause us problems. We are not being asked to consent to evil, but to consent to the mysterious wisdom of God who permits evil. Our consent is not a compromise with evil but the expression of our trust that God is stronger than evil. This is a form of obedience that is painful but very fruitful."
— Fr. Jacques Philippe



On Monday, it was the second anniversary of my dear husband's death from cancer, an evil that certainly none of us willed, and yet God allowed it to happen.  But as I look back over the past two years and see the blessings that God has poured out on us both to comfort us and to give us strength to continue on our journey without the physical presence of the one who seemed to be the very center of our family, I know that He is working out the details in ways that can bless everyone whom my husband has touched.

I thought of that particularly after the Mass for my husband, which was said, reverently and devoutly, by a priest who wasn't even ordained when my husband died.  I told this priest that my husband would have loved the way he says Mass, with such devotion and respect for the great Mystery he is enacting and by paying attention to such things as the requirement that on Feast Days you say the Gloria and on Solemnities you say the Gloria and the Creed.  It was a great trial to my husband that some priests either ignored the rubric or just couldn't seem to remember what they were supposed to do.

In fact, we have been blessed with three new priests in our parish, which is almost a miracle these days, even though it is a large parish.  Our pastor is American, of Irish descent, and the two associates are from the Philippines and Nigeria, so we are well represented from around the world!  They energized the parish, and the Holy Spirit blew in like the mighty wind that "swept over the waters" in Genesis just before God began creation. I can't wait to see what God will create here next!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

CONTINUING THE CANADIAN SOJOURN

When I last wrote, I interrupted the tales of our Canadian adventure just after our first almost full day in the Emergency Room with Catherine and baby John.  I had told Catherine that I would be over a little later the next morning since Gilbert and I needed a little sleep after arriving at the hotel at 1 A.M.  We spent a good part of that Friday planning for the baby's Baptism on Sunday.  They had decided to replace the usual huge Baptismal cake with four dozen Tim Horton's doughnuts (a huge Canadian treat, I am told) and 3 cartons of coffee.  I was sorry that there would be no cake with little John's name on it, but then decided to make a sign saying "God bless John," and let Maria Rose color in the letters, which kept our budding artist happy for quite some time.

This Sunday, which was the Baptism, Gilbert and I asked for written directions to the Church so we actually found it, as opposed to the week before, when we were following our son-in-law and discovered how many Altimas there are on the road.  I finally told my son just to find a Catholic Church on the GPS somewhere nearby, and he did.  This Church, like the hospital, was also undergoing reconstruction, and when we entered it was like going back in time.  There were two screens high on the walls where you could read the prayers, and the words of the songs (but there wasn't a bouncing ball to follow) which were mostly abysmal. Apparently there was a requirement that much of the liturgical music had to be written by Canadians and this was even worse than some of that used in American parishes. The parishioners seemed to be in their 70s and up, but they were friendly, and the one high spot was a trumpeter who had a beautiful descant in the Holy, Holy, Holy.   However, the Mass is still the Mass, and we made it safely back to Catherine's house afterwards.

On the Baptismal day, when we arrived at St. John the Evangelist (baby John's patron saint), I was finally able to experience a Mass at an Ordinariate parish for the first time.
This is a parish that had been Anglican, but the entire parish, both priests, and their families had joined the Catholic Church, but were allowed to keep most of the liturgy they had celebrated in the Anglican Church.  And because my husband had been Episcopalian until he was 19, Catherine and her family were allowed to join.  Catherine said she remembers my husband saying that he missed saying the "Prayer of Humble Access," and then quoting it to her verbatim.  And of course the English of this rite is much more elevated than even the new translation of the Roman rite.  Of course, now they pray for the Pope (but also the Queen, as head of the Canadian government).  But when little John was baptized after the Mass, in the Baptismal gown that my husband's grandmother was baptized in in 1896, he was baptized in an almost identical rite to the one in which my husband was baptized.  Somehow it seemed as if we had come full circle.  And I had a fascinating discussion with the priest who baptized John, who was from England, about his discernment, and that they had wanted to be sure that they weren't just running away from things in the Anglican Church that they didn't like, but that they were going towards the Truth.  It reminded me very much of my husband's journey towards the Catholic Church, and as he was preparing to enter it, one of his college roommates, who was leaving the Church, asked him why he was doing it, and my husband told him, "I came to believe that it was true."

There was a "fellowship" corn roast, I suppose with all the corn that people had had to bring in early because of the snow, after the Mass and before the Baptism, and then we had a party after the Baptism at my daughter's house, which was filled with family and friends.  My daughter, who is an extrovert, enjoyed it greatly, but my son, after several hours, asked if we could go back to the hotel, because the hordes of people whom we didn't know well or at all were beginning to overwhelm us.  We left Catherine in good hands, and promised to be back the next morning.

The Home Health Nurse came soon after we arrived, and when she left, Catherine came out crying because the nurse told her she had to go back to the emergency room.  So off we went again, though this time I spent an hour driving up and down in the parking lot until someone finally left as I was driving by.  We moved from one waiting room to another and the one where Catherine was waiting for an MRI was the nicest because we could actually get far enough away from the ever-present TV not to feel bombarded by news or cooking shows or house makeovers.  Catherine had an infection in the incision, with an abscess beneath the incision, full of streptococci and other invaders, and they gave her another round of antibiotics, prescribed a different way of bandaging the wound, required the nurses to come every day, and set up an appointment with a wound care clinic.  

By the end of the visit, we were able to go over to the hotel where we were staying and use the pool and the three story water slide.  Maria Rose, who was an inch too short for the slide, nevertheless went up and down the stairs several times, and then suddenly came hurtling out into the pool at the bottom of the slide.  When I asked her father how he had convinced her to go down, he smiled and said, "Oh, I just pushed her!"  She went down several more times on her own, but later drew a picture of the water slide, with a sign at the top saying, "Do not put me under water!"

After we left, Catherine had another appointment with the surgeon, who numbed her up, cut open the incision and took care of the abscess, and nearly two months after the surgery, Catherine is finally starting to recover.  My two oldest daughters are flying there tomorrow for a long weekend and I know their presence will help in the healing.

Gilbert and I were glad to go and be of so much help, but we were also delighted to be back at home.  I have been busier than I had ever imagined I could be trying to get my website live for my business, revising cards, and fighting with a phantom printer which has long since been returned to the store where I bought it, but which keeps showing up on the printer dialogue when I try to print out cards. I've had two funerals for former choir members that I played for, and today I played a duet with our organist that went well, but that was in between almost constant meetings in person or on the phone about the business, so I canceled one meeting tonight, and hope that tomorrow I can start to catch up a little.
It is such a luxury to be able to stay at home and work at my computer and look out the window at what the birds are busy at in the garden, to slow down for a few minutes and be grateful for all the gifts I have been given, especially for the two newest grandchildren born this year, one named for me and one for my husband.