Monday, August 02, 2004

Back from the Great Lake State

As those who are crazy enough to read this blog regularly know, I was invited to speak on the Immaculate Conception at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Coldwater, Michigan. When I arrived Saturday afternoon, I was fortunate enough to attend the Mass at which Bishop James Murray consecrated a new altar which had been installed as part of the Church’s refurbishing. He gave a most excellent homily, weaving together the readings from Ecclesiastes, Colossians and Luke to express a central message -- worldliness, the unwholesome fascination with created things, is bad. Godliness, expressed as involvement with and longing for the things of Heaven, is good. I thought, how typically Catholic. Here we are, celebrating the new altar, the beautiful tilework on the floor, a magnificent statue of St. Joseph, new pews . . . . and the Bishop gives us a homily on the vanity which attends the pursuit of created things. The Church is full of those curious moments; the incarnational paradox baffles non-Catholics to no end.

Hours before, the Church had been the scene of a wedding of two (so I’m told) beautiful and faithful young people attended by hundreds of family, friends and well-wishers. Fr. Stanley’s secretary had suffered a ruptured spleen on Friday, and on that same Saturday the Rev. Mr. Alvin Provot, the parish’s deacon, had passed away after a serious illness. As a guest of a family so relentlessly tossed from one extreme to the next, from they joy of a wedding to the grief of loss, the happy celebration of a refurbished church to sorrowful concern over a serious illness, I could only marvel at the cheerful, frank, and charitable way in which everyone handled all of it. Especially Fr. Stanley, who gives the impression of a blur traveling at great speed who suddenly stops, gives someone his absolute and undivided attention, and then whirls into motion again. An energetic, faithful pastor with an energetic, faithful parish is a very attractive thing to experience. Everyone there is much holier than they think they are. I’m glad I had the chance to visit St. Charles Borromeo.

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