Sunday, June 7, 2015

Ut Unum Sint


Roy and Dorothy Dennis

I find, beginning around mid-May each year and persisting until the end of June, that I enter into a period of nostalgic reminiscence.  Both of my paternal grandparents were born in May and I was ordained a priest at the end of June.  As a result, I find myself considering from whence I come and toward what I might be proceeding.  

My grandparents would have been 101 years old this year.  Both lived through two World Wars, the Cristero Wars in Mexico, the Great Depression, and the Cold War.  They grew up using horses of necessity and before dying saw a man land on the moon (though my grandfather insisted it was a hoax created in a television studio).  My grandfather died just as the internet was arriving on the scene, and my grandmother died when everyone was buying cellular phones.  The 100 years since they were born have seen the most radical technological and cultural changes of any century in human history, but neither lived to see me ordained.  I prayed for the repose of both of their souls as I concelebrated the Mass the evening I was elevated to the dignity of the priesthood.

Grandpa and Grandma have been gone for twenty and ten years respectively.  With each passing year the sting of their loss subsides, metamorphosing into a mellowness of memory in which recollections of their flaws have largely dissolved into a vaguer, less acute sentiment of warm fondness. There are moments, however, when the memory of one or the other of them catches me off guard and a tear or two come to my eyes, and I miss them as I did the day they were buried.

These thoughts occur to me today as we approach the end of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi.  Preaching this morning, I found myself saying, "For the Catholic, 'goodbye' is a meaningless word.  We who receive the eucharist are bound to Christ, and we who are bound to Christ are bound also to those themselves bound to Christ in the Eucharist.  From the last supper until eternity, we are tied to one another."    Indeed, though absent in a certain way, my grandparents are not far from me.  They, who are caught up in the mystery of Christ's love perfectly in paradise*, are likewise caught up in the mystery of that love manifested on every altar and in every tabernacle throughout the world.  When I celebrate the Holy Mass, when I consume the Sacred Host and drink the Precious Blood, and I am with them still.  The union we share today is a union that transcends geography and time.  It is a union undiminished by even death itself.  The Eucharist makes us one.  

This union is one I share not only with my grandparents, but with every Catholic from St. Peter until now.  So, to those whom I have not seen for many years, or months or weeks, to those whom, by reason of distance and circumstance, I may never see again, I rejoice.  I will be seeing you in the Eucharist.

* One of the privileges of the priest is to offer Masses for those whom he loves, and to carry them to the altar with him.  This I did for my grandparents nearly every Sunday for more then three years of priesthood.  Then, one Sunday as I paused in the recitation of the Roman Canon to pray for the dead, the Lord spoke to me with great clarity:  "You need not pray for them further." I am not, of course, competent to declare saints, but both of my grandparents died having received the sacraments, and I think my hope is well-founded.  


2 comments:

  1. It is a great thing, to be a priest.
    I pray every day for souls especially my family members- brother, sister, parents. I think not knowing their eternal fate keeps me praying fervently.

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