Monday, March 19, 2018

Prayer: Henri Nouwen

O Lord, how hard it is to accept your way. I am trying to overcome the feelings of alienation and separation which continue to assail me. But I wonder now if my deep sense of homelessness does not bring me closer to you than my occasional feelings of belonging. Come, Lord Jesus, and be with me where I feel poorest.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Photo: Patrick and Patron

Prayer: Blaise Pascal

Teach us, Lord, to do the little things as though they were great, because of the majesty of Christ who does them in us and who lives our life. Teach us to do the greatest things as though they were little and easy because of his omnipotence.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Three Weeks On

A little more than three weeks has passed since my mother’s death and today was my first day to slow down and move through a day with a normal pace.

I have had little time to grieve because my chemo-lotion treatment for catching pre-cancerous cells had burned my face and upper body and I was in great pain for three weeks. I am past the pain happily and I cannot believe how constant was the pain.

This has been an incredible Lent: three Nor’easters, the painful skin treatment, and far too many deaths – my mother’s, a community member at 96 years of age, a sixteen-year-old boy, and eleven others who are part of the BC High community.

This past weekend I gave a retreat to the women of St. Paul’s parish in Harvard Square at a monastery in New Hampshire. One of the sisters went to the hospital with the flu, but before she left, she gave it to me. From there, I went to Flushing, New York City to give a parish mission at a friend’s church for four days. After dealing with the quick moving bug, I had the time of my life with the parish. I was very grateful my words were well received.

I suppose I will reserve Holy Week as a time to write thank you cards to those who took time to write notes and to come to the wake and funeral. It is consoling to get them, and I can see that writing the notes is part of the grieving process.

I was amazed at the numerous graces the family received throughout the process. The wake brought together the extended family of cousins and friends, and we were amazed at the range of people who came from far distances to pay respects to my mother and to offer condolences. The number of Jesuits who came to the wake and the funeral pleased me. It was fun to pull people together and introduce them to each other. Everything seemed to come full circle.

A blessing was to say the funeral mass at St. Denis church in East Douglas. St. Denis is modeled after the church outside Paris, France where Ignatius and his first companions took their simple vows as lay men with Peter Faber as the only priest. The pastor of the church is my mother’s cousin, but he could not be there because of a medical illness.

The Jesuits from my community concelebrated the mass with me. Each of them took part, including the Jesuit brother and a deaf priest, both who are part of my community. It was quite a bonding experience to have the community stand up for me in solidarity. That’s what brothers do for one another.

I was honored to have my musician friends from Boston come to sing. High school classmates showed up; friends from various stages of my life’s formation appeared. It was as if I returned to my roots and found it to be joyful.

It was fascinating to learn various aspects of my mother’s life. Each of her children had a different experience of her with many different memories. I had seen photos that I had not seen before and it made me realize how little we know about significant people in our lives. We get glimpses into a person’s life and we form judgments that are often incomplete.

I also found the range of conversations about suffering and death to be fascinating. Among the most helpful comments are simply, “I’m sorry for your loss,” or “I’m glad to be here for you.” I was pleased to see people of various points of contacts sitting down and chatting with one another. Wakes and funerals are about coming together and sharing the beauty of life with one another.

Likewise, when I was in great pain due to my skin treatment and my face looked horrible, many people empathized with my pain. They certainly communicated that they felt my pain and that they hurt along with me. That was consoling. It was equally, if not more consoling, to hear the words of the 2% who said, “You look beautiful. You look great.” In a time when I was looking for hope and relief, those words elevated my spirit. It is odd how we can never know what will help a person who is suffering. I guess the best thing to do is to ask: What do you need? What do you want?  And make the person feel good.

So, I’m coming through these ordeals quite well. I look forward to Holy Week in trust and I know that Easter is on the horizon. I need Easter to come this year.