Sunday, November 4, 2018

Founder's Day: Waiting (2018-11-04, Sunday-31)

[__Founder's Day Mass,11:30 am]   4 November 2018    /  31st Sunday Ordinary Time, Year B

••   Deuteronomy 6:2-6  • Psalm 18   •• Hebrews 7:23-28 ••    + Mark 12:28b-34  ••

••       Title:   Waiting

[__01_]   This Sunday is Our Lady of Lourdes Founder’s Day, a solemn anniversary of our parish’s first Sunday Mass on November 8, 1914 at the original church at Cherry and Chestnut Streets.
          We also honor at this Mass – and in our luncheon reception to follow – our beloved pastor of 2001-2013, Monsignor Joe Petrillo, whose vision and vigilance were significant for Lourdes.  
          Just as Father Marnell had a vision and vigilance for the first Catholic family here, so did Monsignor Petrillo whose vision and vigilance were always on display in the Founder’s Day celebrations which he himself endeavored to get going together with Jack Healy and the Heritage Committee over the years.
          Monsignor Petrillo’s vision and vigilance were evident at Founder’s Day and at our Centennial in 2014 in which he played such an important role.
[*** PAUSE ***]

[__02_]   When I started here in 2006 as an associate to Monsignor Joe, and as a parish priest, I became aware of his vision and vigilance.
          He needed this, in particular because he was simultaneously pastor of Lourdes here in West Orange and an archdiocesan official in charge of assignments for priests for the Archbishop of Newark.
          One Saturday in 2006, we begin a series of weekly Saturday one-on-one meetings that started at 12 Noon and we would also have lunch together.
          *** I think he probably hoped these meetings would last for a few weeks or months and then taper off. Politely, he never complained. The meetings continued *** 
          Being vigilant, Father Joe came to the table with courtesy and no assumptions. This was evident in early question to me, “Jim, would you like to be the director of liturgy, so that you would work with our music director, lectors, Eucharistic ministers, altar servers, sacristan…”
          I said YES, pressing [START].
But, later, I pressed [ ▌▌PAUSE] at least in my head thinking, “why did he even ask? Why did he not just tell me… who else was he going to get?”
          This was Father Joe’s vigilance and simplicity.
          He also came to the table with his enormous binder, 4 inches thick. Old school.  I thought he might have all the bulletins since November 8, 1914 in there. Not quite. But, when I had a question, he indexed through that bad boy like a human algorithm and came up with an answer.
          Who needs Google? Facebook?
          Father Joe was a search engine and social media all in one.
          Also, if I gave him something, he always had some place to put it. His alphabetical file system was something to behold.
[__03_]    In the Gospel this Sunday, Jesus is asked a question. He has no binder of all the sacred biblical writings in front of him but he does comprehend the commandments.
          Jesus is also vigilant. He asked, “which commandment of the law is the greatest?”
          And, Jesus speaks about the 3 loves to which we are called. These are love of God, love of neighbor, and love of self.

[__04_]    By love of self, we are called to remember that we are called to be SELF-GIVING and in order to give ourselves away, we are called to care for the gift of the person and self we are.
          Sometimes, I might neglect this love of self by simply comparing who I am to others.  Or, I might neglect this gift of self by being convinced that I must add something to my personality or to my competency.
          I suggest that even in the admission or sins, repentance and forgiveness, we are not changing who we are, we are becoming who we are.
Love of self. We love ourselves and our gifts so that we may share them.
[__05_]    Love of neighbor. To love our relatives and friends and family. We do this so that we can learn to love others. For is not the love of family and friends the basis for all good relationships more generally…
          *** John Henry Newman sermon: Love of Relations and Friends **
          We are called not just to shop locally, eat locally, but also to love locally. It prepares us to love globally. Love yourself. Love your neighbor.
[__06_]    Love of God. Love of God teaches us that love is not simply a series of good decisions but also an identity. God is Love. And this love transcends situations.
          This is what a commandment is – for example, the commandments about personal dignity, purification, honesty, integrity – commandments that caution us about taking the life of another, or severing a relationship in any adulterous way, or deception … these are commandments that also teach us how far-reaching love is, that love is not simply about those things that make us feel good, but that love will also call us to make great sacrifices and even to endure pain and suffering.  Consider how we may be called to love those who cause us pain  - this is also God’s love.
          Love  God with all of your heart, mind, strength.     

[__07_]    The commandments to love remind us of our call to be present, to be vigilant.  Father Joe as a friend, priest, teacher, guide tried to live this presence and vigilance.
          And, one significant – every day way – was his attitude toward waiting and delays.
          Let’s say that you – or I – were 5 or 10 or more minutes late to see him. This happened more than a few times with me, because I run late.
          But, Father Joe was not going anywhere. He was both PUNCTUAL & patient, but he himself was rarely delayed or tardy, as they say in the Principal’s office and he was a school teacher and principal once.
          Father Joe was not delayed.  
          You were late … I was late. He was 12 to 22 minutes early. .
          And, when I would apologize or be contrite, he would either just smile or keep a completely straight face and then quote … “They serve who also stand and wait.” That was a personal motto of his. They serve – he serves – who also stand and wait. Beautiful. Vigilant
          Also, it was a statement of mercy toward the latecomer. He serves who stands and waits.
          One day, I was finally spurred to look up the reference. It was not in his binder. I needed Google.
          It is from a poem by John Milton, “When I consider how my my light is spent.”  (Sonnet 19)

When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
   And that one Talent which is death to hide
   Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
   My true account, lest he returning chide;
   “Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
   I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
   Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
   Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
   And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:
   They also serve who only stand and wait.”   (John Milton, Sonnet 19)

 [__08_]    Our Lady of Lourdes, our Blessed Mother also waits.
Our Lady of Lourdes, Pray for Us!

[__09_]     [__fin_]   

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