Monday, October 28, 2013

some b/w answers

I was recently told that it is wrong to be "too friendly" with sinners, gays and adulterers.  We can be "friends" but not "friends-friends," they said, and I struggled to understand.  Maybe they meant we could be "neighborly"..?
Hmm...I wonder if anything has ever been said/written/painted about that...
 "Tax collectors and sinners were all crowding around to listen to Jesus. So the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law of Moses started grumbling, "This man is friendly with sinners. He even eats with them."  (Lk 15)

"And who is my neighbor?" (Lk 10:25)

Monday, October 14, 2013

a funeral

Last Monday was the funeral for a very popular Franciscan who died at age 87 after serving 59 years in Navajoland as a missionary priest.  He had one of the longest running radio shows that our nation has ever known and it was bilingual, too (in English and Navajo).  Apparently it was so widely listened to, he would often meet people on the Reservation who, after exchanging a few words, would recognize him by his voice.

Once a week, until about a year and a half ago, he would come every Friday to say Mass in Navajo at the Missionaries of Charity's shelter for the homeless.  The Sisters needed a driver to take them to the funeral so I had an excuse to attend.  I wanted to at least be at the funeral ever since I came across this ten-year-old article about his life and work from the L.A.Times.

Fr. Cormac Antram

The funeral was in both Navajo and English and very well attended.  We sang "Amazing Grace" in Navajo and one of the superiors of the Franciscan order traveled from Ohio to officiate (in the absence of our bishop who was on pilgrimage in Israel).  It takes about twice as long to say things in Navajo and we listened to the homily first in English and then, for a long time, it was read again in Navajo. 

One of the highlights for me was a prayer that was first read in Navajo by the only Franciscan Brother in our area who is himself Navajo.  It is a Christian form of a Navajo blessingway prayer and I wish I knew who authored it.  The closest I have come so far to finding an original Blessingway (not Christian) is this one, and the brief explanation of what beauty means to the Navajo corresponds to what I have learned so far, too.

Yesterday I came across the Blessingway as it was read at the funeral in Fr. Cormac's own book, "Laborers in the Harvest," a published collection of some of the articles that appeared in his regular column for the Diocesan newspaper.  I am copying it here so I can commit it to memory though I wish I could learn it in the original, it was so beautiful.  There were many present who knew it and murmured along out loud as it was being read from the pulpit.

Jesus, God's Son, my older Brother, come to me!
From your home, from heaven, from there, come to me!
From heaven, from the sky hole, from there, come to me!
On earth where you were born, from there, come to me!
From the first view of my home, come and stand with me!
Along the trail leading to my home, come and stand with me!
By the fireplace of my home, come and stand with me!
My feet, you will watch over them for me, I said to him.
My body, you will watch over it for me, I said to him.
My heart, you will watch over it for me, I said to him.
My hands, you will watch over them for me, I said to him.
My lips, you will watch over them for me, I said to him.
My ears, you will watch over them for me, I said to him.
My eyes, you will watch over them for me, I said to him.
My mind, you will watch over it for me, I said to him.
May beauty be before me as I go through life.
May beauty be behind me as I go through life.
May beauty be beneath me as I go through life.
May beauty be above me as I go through life...
Jesus, my older brother, come to me!
Jesus, my older brother, come to me!
Jesus, my God, come to me!

Finally, the funeral concluded with the Franciscans present (there were many!) singing the "Ultima," which apparently is a Marian hymn traditionally sung at Franciscan events, whether joyful or sad.  I cannot seem to find a sung version right now (I will keep looking!), but here is the score, from the Benedictines who evidently also use it.

Eternal rest, grant unto him O Lord: and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tag: "Stuff I may not remember later if I don't write it down"

On Tuesdays I go help out at the soup kitchen and shelter run by the Missionaries of Charity here in town.  Lately I have been on "food pick-up" duty which means I drive over to the supermarket and collect their expired packaged food or wilted produce in grocery carts, load it up into a vehicle (hopefully one large enough to fit all the boxes of food) and then bring it back.  (The manager laughs when he sees me--he figures the Sisters must really be desperate to send puny old me to carry all those heavy boxes!)

The Sisters feed anywhere between 60 to 130 folks a day on reject grocery store items, themselves included.  So it is definitely worth the effort.

Today I had three cart-loads and was getting a little worried about being able to manage it all alone to be able to get it down the ramp to where I can load it up into the Sisters' suburban.  I was just about to leave when one of the workers notified me that I had overlooked some items.  "Those!  Those!" she pointed to a grocery cart full of roses. Not just a bouquet or two of drooping blossoms like we typically get, but about a dozen gorgeous bouquets of roses of all colors that were barely fading.  Plenty of red.

It actually took me a minute.  I started loading it all up and became distracted, wondering how I could manage an even bigger load than I already had...until I realized: it is October 1st, Feast Day of St. Therese of Lisieux! 


For any readers who might not be familiar, St. Therese is nicknamed "The Little Flower" and is known to "shower down roses" (her words) as a sign that prayers are being heard.  At any rate, I didn't have to explain this to the Sisters when I returned with my load of food for the day. 

"Guess what I have in the truck?" I said, as I pulled into the garage. "Roses! Lots and lots of roses."

"Ah, it is St. Therese!" they said, not at all surprised.  Okay, two of them did raise their eyebrows a bit and smile.  But really, I can't say that it was surprise...they just seemed happy.