In the past three months a dear friend died and a dear friend of my mother's died. Neither one was a member of organized religion and I was asked to lead the memorial services.
It has put me in mind of death as a mystery. Another friend, a priest who has also died, Jim Krings, said to me once, don't try to explain death. Don't let yourself or anyone else think they can understand it.
That was my first point in my brief opening homilette: Death is a mystery.
Secondly, I am so aware for myself that I bring to every funeral all my own past losses. Brothers, friends, my father -- they are in the background of my mind. That word loss is so short and simple but it stands for holes in our lives, missing persons, unfinished conversations.
And in the moment of feeling loss so acutely, we also feel alive. Life is at least as much a mystery as death. How did we come to be and what is our meaning? And so we are grateful. We mourn the loss and we celebrate the life.
September marks at least two anniversaries in Catholic health care, both in California. For a look at "then" and "now," read this story about St. John's Regional Medical Center, founded 100 years ago in Oxnard by the Sisters of Mercy, or this one, about the arrival of the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael in Stockton 135 years ago.
In a talk delivered at a Spanish theological congress in early September, an Italian former Benedictine abbot said problems with implementing Vatican II began with Pope Paul VI.
It was he, said Giovanni Franzoni, who intervened at critical moments during the council to dilute various council documents, resulting in ambivalent interpretations and contradiction as to their true meaning.
Franzoni, who attended the council, said, "In many places...it is said that John Paul II and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger ... were the ones who put a stop to the post-conciliar ferment, imposing a restrictive, minimalist interpretation of Vatican II. However, in my opinion ... Paul VI set the premises so that the Council could be, at least in part, 'tamed' and the post-conciliar period 'cooled down.'"
Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW) says it has found more evidence of abuses that "went on unreported for years in Dutch Roman Catholic homes for the mentally disabled," including "sex offences, castration, secret medical experiments and possibly murder," according to this report.
I went to Guatemala last week for meetings with sisters there about several projects we work on together. The four of us from the U.S. attended a special presentation on Goldcorp Mining Company.
Goldcorp is mining gold (what else?) in the western mountains of Guatemala, in the San Marcos province. When the company bought the land, parcel by parcel, agents told the people a huge orchid farm would be established, offering jobs and the opportunity to work in beauty. The land is poor and people were glad to sell for modest prices – until one holdout was paid $40,000.
From the Connecticut Post:
By some accounts, the bishop was booed as he addressed more than 100 parishioners at Holy Rosary Parish on East Washington Avenue.
"This is nothing more than a money grab," said Chris Caruso, a parishioner at Holy Rosary and a former state representative. "We have the money and they want to grab it. I've been a Catholic for 52 years and I am praying that the bishop tells us what is really happening and be square with us."
And yesterday, from the Norwich newspaper, The Day:
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich will hold informational meetings tonight and next Monday on "clustering" parishes in the New London deanery.
On this day, 55 years ago, Babe Didrikson Zaharias died at the age of 45.
"'George, I ain't gonna die,' Babe told her husband just after midnight on September 27, 1956. But as the sun was rising over the Gulf of Mexico at 6:42 a.m., Babe Didrikson Zaharias passed away. George was by her side."
--Wonder Girl: The Magnificent Sporting Life of Babe Didrikson Zaharias, by Don Van Natta Jr., Little, Brown and Company, 2011, page 331. On the Amazon page is a short video. (And notice the enthusiastic Editorial Reviews.)
Springfield, Ill. -- Judge denies Catholic Charities' request for reconsideration. Department of Children and Family Services can begin canceling its adoption and foster care contracts with Catholic Charities
Diocese emerges from bankruptcy, The Catholic Diocese of Wilmington on Monday completed the transfer of more than $77.4 million to a trust fund for survivors of clergy abuse.
According to NBC affiliate WEAU Channel 13 News:
Brown County sheriff's investigators say the worker was accused of stealing the Fender Telecaster from the mausoleum at Allouez Catholic Cemetery. His employer, the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, says the grounds superintendent is on unpaid leave pending the result of the criminal investigation.
On Saturday, deputies questioned 39-year-old Steven Conard who is the Grounds Superintendent for the Green Bay Diocese.
While being questioned, Conard admitted he had the stolen guitar at his home. Conard said, "This isn’t something I normally do, I just have a respect for fine musical instruments."
Deputies were able to recover the guitar from Conard's home. The guitar is a Fender, Telecaster valued at two thousand dollars.