Rest in Peace, Sandy

Just yesterday I told you about my granddaughter’s baptism this past Sunday.  It was a glorious day as we welcomed another new member to the Church.  Sadly, Morgan’s grandmother, my daughter-in-law’s mom, wasn’t able to be with us.  She was in the hospital fighting the good fight against leukemia and several other health issues.  She was greatly missed.

This afternoon I got the call to be with the family again.  Sandy had taken a turn for the worse and life support was going to be removed.  After waiting for family members to gather, the nurse removed all the tubes and wires that had been keeping her alive and she passed quietly into new life at 2:47.  Father Jim Grey, the hospital chaplain had anointed her just after 1:00 and offered very comforting words to all of us.  When I die, please call for an Irish priest.  They’re the best!

Sandy leaves behind two daughters, one son, and six grandchildren, three of whom we share.  They’re her legacy.  For those of us left behind there is sadness and emptiness.  We’ve lost someone special.  But, for Sandy, today marks the beginning of eternal life, eternal happiness, and eternal freedom from pain.

Farewell, Sandy.  Be sure to put in a good word for us when you meet God face to face.

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Baptizing My Granddaughter–Holy Orders Meets Parenthood

On Sunday I had the privilege of baptizing my third grandchild.  (Number 4 will not be baptized but that’s a subject for another day.  Suffice it to say that it’s very disappointing to her grandparents and other family members.)  There are many honors that are reserved for priests and bishops, but baptizing your own grandchildren is all the more special because it’s something that only deacons can (normally) do.  Of course there are exceptions.  There are a handful of married priests who may have grandchildren, but in the normal course of things, deacons are the only Catholic clergy who get to perform this wonderful sacrament on their own flesh and blood.

As thrilling as Sunday was, there was a certain amount of fear and trepidation, too.  Jesus told us that a prophet isn’t without honor except in his own town.  I’m no prophet, that’s for sure.  But family members know a side of us that others don’t, which makes it kind of hard to preach to them.  I was “Dad” first, long before there was any thought of becoming a minister.  In fact, when my kids were growing up, I’m sure they wondered if their father was even a Catholic.  I wasn’t the best role model.

So what do you say to fulfill your obligations both as parent and grandparent, and as ordained minister?   After a lot of thought and a lot of prayer, I did what I normally do.  I decided to let the Holy Spirit take over.  I walked into church with no notes and a minimal outline of what I was going to say.  As usual, the Spirit came through for me, at least I think He did.

I took a break on Saturday afternoon and took a look at my facebook page.  I posted that I was having a hard time with the baptism homily.  My daughter-in-law commented back “We’re counting on you.”  That was the answer to my prayer.  They were counting on me.  They had chosen me to be the minister of their daughter’s first sacrament.  They weren’t looking for a softball.  They wanted me to give them my best stuff!  All of a sudden, I saw this situation in a whole new light.   

I love my kids and couldn’t be more proud of all of them.  And there’s nothing Iwant more for them thanto spend eternity in the presence of God.    Jan and Ipray for that daily.  As I said, at their age I wasn’t the best Catholic in the world.  So I hope and pray that they will get back to regular reception of the sacraments eventually, just like I did.

So, what did I tell them?  Essentially I told them that I’ve spent my life trying to make their lives as easy as possible.  I’ve always tried to give them the best that I could afford, sometimes even better than I could afford, like twelve years of Catholic education.  (Four kids x twelve years = forty eight years total.  Ouch!)  But there’s one thing I can’t make easy for them, and that’s their salvation.  It’s entirely up to them.  Like I said, Jan and I pray for them every day, but this is one time when they’re going to have to do it themselves.

My son and daughter-in-law, along with another son (the godfather) were promising to see that Morgan would be raised in the faith.  They weren’t promising me, they were promising God.  And that’s not something to be taken lightly.  My kids have made a lot of promises to me that somehow didn’t work out.  I’ve done the same to them.  But when you make a promise to God, the stakes are quite a bit higher.

I admitted that I’ve been lax in following up on their brother and sister’s baptism, but that I would be much more vigilant in the future.  And I intend to keep that promise.

Being given the privilege to baptize my own grandchildren, is too great a gift to squander.  I have to be more vigilant in my duty to see that the sacrament is kept alive in their, and their parents and godparents, hearts.

Thanks, Jennifer and Mike for counting on me.  I hope I never let you down.

PS, I gave a homily on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord that I use as a handout for baptismal preparation.  You can download a copy of it on the Resources page of the blog.

New Links

I want to point out that I’ve added some new links for your reading and listening pleasure.  These are blogs and podcasts that I follow and that I think you’ll enjoy.

Health and Holiness.  This is just one of Father Roderick’s podcasts originating from the Netherlands.  It used to be called “Healthy Catholic”, but he changed the name to make it more inclusive.  Father records this show on a portable audio recorder while he’s out jogging or walking.  He has an amazing command of the English language for someone from Holland.  I think you’ll enjoy it, even if you’re already healthy and holy.

The Break. Father Roderick again.  This studio-based podcast gets into TV, movies, and lots of other interesting stuff.  He even mixes in a little theology.  It’s a fun show.  Check it out.

Deacons Today:  Dalmatics and Beyond.  Doctor Bill Ditewig is a professor of theology and the former head man of the USCCB diaconate office.  There’s nothing about the diaconate that the good doctor doesn’t know.  Check out his blog for the straight scoop on all things deacon.

This isn’t a new link, but one I want to point out in case you’ve missed it.  SQPN, the Star Quest Production Network puts out an assortment of shows.  Check out their web page and I’m sure you’ll find something you like.

The Holy Father has called on all of us to use social media to spread the Good News of the Gospel.  These are some excellent examples of exactly what he’s talking about.  I hope you enjoy them.