Thursday, August 28, 2008

All You, Holy Men and Women Pray for Us

At the 6 p.m. Mass on August 26th, this beautiful case was blessed and dedicated. The design was taken from the original altar in the first St. Genevieve Church built 150 years ago and torn down to make room for a bank.

The case was designed and built by Seminarian, Christopher Edward Williams during the summer. He also chaired our Retablo Project. The communion rail is also from the old church.

The case will hold the relics of 13 saints. Frank and I were asked to carry St. Maria Goretti's relic to the case during the dedication mass. I wish I could explain how having a small piece of this little one close to my heart moved me and the others who were honored with carrying a relic of another saint. I will publish the biographies of the saints we honor in this case at another time.

We have at the top a splinter for the cross. Relics from St. John Newman, St. Pope Pius X, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bartholomew, St. Jude, St. St. Maria Goretti, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Theresa of Avila, and a few others that I will present very soon along with their biographies.

The Mass was beautiful! I guess, because it reminded me that these men and women were alive just like me and had trials just like me, and yet managed to follow Christ to the end. Each one contributing to the faith in their own unique and marvelous way.

I believe that the real story about this case is that it was not planned in the mind of any person. That is to say, that events took place that put this project into motion and the project took shape, materials and talent was provided and finally became realized miraculously.

For one thing, Father Ricardo Bauza, our pastor, could not get his paperwork finalized for his visa; which in turn keep him at the parish instead of Norte Dame where he studies during the summer. Wood was provided by a parish member who found the tree knocked down on the side of a road and asked if he could haul it away. The owners of the property were thankful to be rid of it. It was dark walnut. Our Seminarian, Chris is an accomplished carpenter with a love for the historical. He found his inspiration in pictures of the old St. Genevieve.

Frank and I were asked to carry Maria's relic to the case. I had painted her last month. I spent at least 7 days with her and was sad when her image was completed. I learned about her and felt that the time I spent with her had taught me about forgiveness. To understand the lesson, you have to know Maria Goretti.

Born in Corinaldo, Ancona, Italy, on October 16, 1890; her farm worker father moved his family to Ferrier di Conca, near Anzio. Her father died of malaria and her mother had to struggle to feed her children.

In 1902 an eighteen year old neighbor, Alexander, grabbed her from her steps and tried to rape her. When Maria said that she would rather die than submit, Alexander began stabbing her with a knife.

As she lay in the hospital, she forgave Alexander before she died. Her death did not end her forgiveness, however. Alexander was captured and sentenced to thirty years. He was unrepentant until he had a dream that he was in a garden. Maria was there and gave him flowers. When he woke, he was a changed man, repenting of his crime and living a reformed life. When he was released after 27 years he went directly to Maria’s mother to beg her forgiveness, which she gave. “If my daughter can forgive him, who am I to withhold forgiveness,” she said.

When Maria was declared a saint in 1950, Alexander was there in the St. Peter’s crowd to celebrate her canonization. She was canonized by Pope Pius XII for her purity as a model for youth. She is called a martyr because she fought against sexual assault. However, the most important aspect of her story is her forgiveness of her attacker—her concern for her enemy extending even beyond death. She is the patron saint of Purity, Youth, and Rape Victims.
It is easier to forgive when a person is sorry and repenting, isn't it? I mean when you see the heart of the person sorrowful for the wrong that he has committed. But in Maria's situation, he was not sorry until she came to him after death in a dream. She has taught me so much about forgiveness. When we were chosen to carry her relic, I was stunned because very few people know about my fondness for this little saint. It was if she was letting me know that she knows my heart and that she is interceding for me. I truly felt her friendship and her grace.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Have A Heart

From today's readings: " I will give you a new heart and place a new spiritwithin you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you naturalhearts.... I will pour clean water on you and wash away all your sins....The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come....
"Have a Heart! The desperate cry to "Have a Heart!" is among the most tugging appeals one can make beseeching another to re-consider some cold intention orassessment. The appeal plainly and plaintively points out that the proposal under consideration appears heartless, and even inhuman. How touching to note that God uses this same appeal with all His people,entreating us not only to "have a heart," but more specifically, to have the heart that He offers to give us! At first, it might seem inappropriate for us to be saddled with the charge of having "stony hearts," since each of us would hasten to assure all that we certainly do love our God! Yet in all honesty, we must also admit that we have too often treated Him heartlessly. This is particularly true, according to Ezekiel, when the great Name of theLord is profaned among us. This refers not just to the ubiquitous profanity in our midst (which, tragically, is accepted so casually), but also to any ways in which God's rightful place in our lives is demoted or denigrated in any fashion. For example, if a man is too embarrassed to ever speak seriously about his faith (even in his own family!), or if a woman can find plenty of time for romance novels or soap operas, but no time for reading the Bible, then God's Name has certainly been heartlessly profaned in such households! Today, remember above all to have a heart for the Good Lord who gave you your heart!

I want my God, to love you face to face.