Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Father's Day with Father

True to your nature, you came to me on Saturday and requested we go visit our good friend Fr. Courtney for Father's Day. You have known him since you were young. Fr. Courtney has wanted to be a priest since he was a young boy. The youngest of nine children, God placed that calling on his heart very young. He is a lover of all things beautiful and traditional. Our children have grown to love priests and are extremely fond of Fr. Courtney who stops by the house frequently. He always gives them a picture of the Divine Mercy and says, "Here is a picture of my friend." I love how they giggle. He gets a kick out of all the kids especially Zellie who has mutual affection for him. He usually gives each of them a quarter when he leaves.
John always says that we need priests and priests need families. It is important that we are present in each other's lives. So on this Father's day, we headed out to Steinauer, Nebraska to celebrate Father's Day with our dear spiritual father. The kids were so tickled that Father just fussed over them at mass. After mass, he took us into the sacristy and showed the kids all his vestments. After spending some time with Marge, we went with Father to the Pizza Hut.  I must admit that the Gospel of Life that Pope John Paul II preached about was very present this glorious day.  I watched from the end of our table, Father dressed in his clerics surrounded by six little faces laughing and joking.  So full of life.  So full of hope. 
After the beautiful hour long drive, we walked into St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Steinauer...population 73 people total in the town. In the middle of this little town, one can find this magnificent structure. Back then, people knew their priorities. The love put into their faith building such a structure back then was a testimony for us on Sunday. Across the street, we ate a light lunch at the Convent House. The House use to hold an order of traditional Benedictine nuns in full black habit. These nuns taught at the small school that closed down in the 60s. Father gave us a tour of the old convent. I was amazed again at the elegance and faith of this small community that once built a gorgeous church, a convent, a Catholic school, and had enough children attending to be taught by nuns. Our faith is so rich. Today, we met Marge. Marge was a woman in her 80s that was so tickled by all our little girls that she was beside herself with joy. She immediately came up to us after mass and asked if we could come over for fruit, sausage, and eggs that she had prepared earlier for out-of-town guests. The convent has since been turned into a bed and breakfast and Marge donates her time to running the B&B. I asked her how many children she had and she told me that she was never married because her mother was paralyzed when she was little so of course she wanted to take care of her. I told John later I loved how she told me her simple life story as if it were no big deal. She gave her whole life caring for her mother and now she helps Father run the B&B. We talked pie crusts and prime rib recipes. I think I enjoyed her most out of our day in Steinauer, Nebraska.
So once again John you have taught me that life is so much more full-filling when lived in service of others. You spent "your" Father's Day being a good friend to our spiritual father. I've said it before, you are a privilege to know just on a human level. You exemplify what God intended for the human race. Pure self-sacrifice. Our children will be different because of you. It is not that we won't struggle with them, but they will be different because of your reaction to life. My sisters want to marry "a John." My brothers want to be "like John." Heck, I want to be "like John."
You recently showed me these three videos that I want to pass onto others. Your strength and character match what these two men are challenging us to be. Thank you for the example. This is long, but worth your time. As we say almost every night, there aren't many things that beat listening to a good Marco Rubio speech. I have listened to this speech many times.