No, TT, not from Fiddler on the Roof, although the message in that song is love is an action, not a feeling. No, now I’m quoting John chapter 21, and the passage I heard when we got back from Lourdes.
Before that, let me share with you a wise insight from my Dominican friend, Fr. Timothy Danaher. I’ve mentioned him before as he was just ordained and also shared with me such deep insights on many things. I love Fr. Tim, pray for him as he embarks in his priesthood.
This is his Ordination holy card. Normally, priests have cards of the last supper, or a saint, or Our Lady, but I’ve never seen an unfinished art piece as the holy card. He offered an explanation in person but I asked him to write it down so I could share it.
“I chose it for 3 reasons: the humility of God in becoming man, which we should notice and imitate; the incompleteness of the drawing, like our own lives, yet Christ is being formed in us; and the fact that Michelangelo erased the first draft of Mary gazing down on Jesus, and he drew her looking forward to the cross, knowing that it’s a part of his life and our life, and being unafraid to face it together with him.”
You all know of my inspirations, the Carthusians, and their motto of “The Cross stands, while the world turns”. In this artwork, Mary is purposefully looking to the cross, even knowing that it will mean suffering for Jesus and for her, suffering with Him. Thus, to us, we look to the cross ourselves as the anchor while the world is spinning. Mary is also protective of the infant, even while knowing the path he must take. To me, this ties into our own lives as well – we have a role to play, we have a path to follow. We will be protected on this path, but we have to follow it and can’t stay in the protective shell, our personal bubble. We can’t play it safe, nor choose the easy way.
Fr. Tim says it very well, I can’t embellish on his thoughts for this.
But how does it tie into the title? Ah, now we get there. So I’ve been thinking about this a lot, especially with all the political stuff going on. I live near DC, the political stuff flying around never stops and it’s hard to look through the haze to understand reality and news spin. When we came back from Lourdes, I was very conscious of the call I had in front of me – the call to ALS, and some personal understanding of that, which I can or have shared somewhere else, maybe. But the Gospel on Sunday we returned had this quote:
“Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.”
As a person with ALS (pALS), this has so many meanings. We lose our own control of our bodies. We lose our ability to speak, to eat, to move, eventually even to breathe. We become reliant on others to help us and even be taken where we don’t want to go or do. It’s not a happy thought, and to be reliant on so many others oftentimes is overwhelming to a pALS.
There is the possibility too that medically there could be decisions out of our control, and we lose our ability to do what we want. I will be controversial here (it’s my blog, after all), but the ability of insurance, hospitals, doctors, bureaucrats, to decide what is best for you and me will outweigh my own and my family’s decisions. If it isn’t happening yet, it will be soon, and I’m a historian, taught by one of the most discerning historians out there – I’m telling you I see the pattern. (I’ll share just one overt instance: when Right to try passed, I was overwhelmed with negative comments about how I or others would be fleeced by snake oil salesmen, so we should let the FDA decide. I welcome your comments.)
So this simple gospel passage, ostensibly about St. Peter, reaches out across 2000 years and taps me on the shoulder. It brought in Fr. Tim, who had no idea about this stuff, to share a supporting concept through his own witness and prayer. And the then political atmosphere in the world ties the bow nicely. A month or so of time for a single concept to form in a human head – why do we demand immediate satisfaction?
I’m going to write a follow up on this next, explaining what I mean. I’m going to blatantly steal from Catholic Stuff You Should Know for it.
Again, I welcome your thoughts.