Thursday, July 13, 2017

Conversations From The Sacred Liturgy Conference

The conference is in full swing, and I think I've talked more in the last two days than I normally do in an entire week!  So many conversations with old and new friends.  I haven't seen so many priests and bishops in one place since I was in Rome on my honeymoon.  While I didn't come down here to talk about the apostolate, that's what I've been doing.  I talked to Todd Cooper from the archdiocese about developments since we last talked and he invited me to the annual meetings on both prison and homeless ministry.  Meagan should also probably join me given her background.

I also briefed Archbishop Sample on our efforts as well as the revival of St. Paul Street Evangelization.  I was happy to pass on the news that street evangelization in Portland has more than doubled in the last year, in terms of people doing it as well as hours spent on the street.  Thanks be to God!  When he pressed me on why I don't evangelize downtown, I explained that we largely evangelize where we live (NE and SE).  Then I joked that I'll be evangelizing for thirty more years and I will eventually get to downtown.  He laughed and said that he'll be bishop here even longer, "Thirty two years till retirement age!"  I assured him "No, you'll get kicked upstairs."  He rolled his eyes and replied, "Not with what's going on in the Vatican."  I countered, "Pope Sarah will promote you."  He gave me a weary look as if to say, "We won't be so blessed."  Needless to say I didn't tell him that I had a prophetic experience of that fact a couple years ago.  If I told him that he would have marked me out as a loon!  Well, God bless the loons!

Then I gently lobbied Archbishop Sample (with the help of a wonderful Catholic psychiatrist) for him to extend an invitation to Mother Miriam (the former Rosalind Moss) and her sisters to re-locate to Portland.  Mother Miriam had e-mailed me a day or two before the conference to say that she was coming to the conference and that Portland was her "first choice" to re-locate her Daughters of Mary.  My friends and I were thrilled at the prospect, and we quietly sent word out for everyone to storm heaven with prayers for a favorable resolution.  The charism of Mother Miriam's community would be perfect for Portland.  They work to strengthen the Christian family, and they are active on the streets in their long flowing Benedictine habits.  We know many prostitutes and others who would be delighted to spend time with the sisters. I've been incessantly bugging their patron, St. Francis de Sales, to tickle Archbishop Sample's ear.  Mother Miriam is hopeful, and the signs are favorable.  Actually, she took an e-mail from me was a sign, because out of the blue I notified them that a reliquary of St. Francis de Sales would be arriving from Belgium.  I sent the e-mail right before she was slated to come here to Portland.  She thought, "Wow, that can't be a coincidence".  Well, I hope God is using me without my knowledge!

Mother Miriam holding her vows

The Daughters of Mary have promised to pray for all those we meet on the streets, and so have the Marian Sisters of Santa Rosa.  I first met them five years ago in San Rafael, and now again at the conference.  I'm sure they will remember to pray for our friends on the streets, because I gave their Mother Superior a relic and the postulator general's document of her namesake: Marie of Lourdes, that is, St. Bernadette Soubirous (Bernadette's religious name was Sr. Marie Bernard).  Only providence could have made me bring the items to the conference, and only the Holy Spirit could have convinced me to surrender it.  It's all in a good cause.  Relics freely given away are twice as powerful as relics kept for one's own devotion.  Mother Marie of Lourdes did urge us to commend our most difficult cases (the heroin addicts) to Mary, our Mother in Heaven.  I think Chris and Meagan have been doing that all along, zealously handing out Miraculous Medals and rosaries.  I was too dull-minded to fully grasp that until Mother Marie mentioned it.  Thanks be to God.  I featured the Marian Sisters in a photo in this old blogpost.

I enlisted yet more help in prayer by talking to Tom, a spiritual "son" of Blessed Charles de Foucauld.  I first met Tom at the Catholic Men's Conference last December.  I wrote in this blogpost how divine love gently burst from the relic on my chest when I saw Tom kneeling after communion.  Tom is drawn to the apostolate, and I practically begged him to offer prayers for our friends as he attends daily mass.  Tom also shared a heartfelt story of finding reconciliation with his parents before they passed on.  They had been estranged from each other for some time, and by God's grace the wounds were able to be bound up.  There's a lesson there for all of us.  Division is always of the Devil, and we must ruin the Devil's work.  It doesn't matter where the fault lies in a split.  The Christian must always be the peacemaker, even if they absorb more blows while making peace.  For my part, I regret the times in the past when I've been distant from my own father.  My three siblings have distanced themselves from Dad since Mom's death last year.  I'd sooner jump in a pot of boiling oil than join them in that split.  I love my siblings and we get along great, but Mom is not pleased with their separation as she rests in Christ.

Finally, we have some manly bishops at this conference.  Both Archbishop's Vasa and Cordileone communicate real strength and solidity by their very presence.  You can't fake that and you can't manufacture it.  They are simply men "who will not be moved", as the old Baptist hymn has it.  I expect both Archbishop Sample and Archbishop Cordileone will be cardinals in the next ten years.  Deo Gratias!  When I saw Cardinal Burke process into mass the other day, I was worried that age and work had caught up to him.  But he was merely jet-lagged and regained his vigor as the conference wore on. He is such a humble man, and one who is completely misunderstood by a hostile press.  As I watched him walk far behind the train of priests and bishops, as if a man forgotten, I was reminded of a passage from St. Paul:

"For it seems that God has put us apostles at the end of the line.  We have been made a spectacle to the entire world, both angels and men."  I Corinthians 4:9

Meagan and the great Marie B. from 40 Days for Life with their hero, Cardinal Burke.

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