Spending time at St. Bonaventure Church and Father Casey’s tomb was truly emotional for me. I cried so much my eyes were squinty but I laughed and smiled a lot, too.
Then, for two and a half hours Joseph Taylor, our young, charismatic, self-appointed guide, treated Steven and me to an unforgettable “pilgrimage” that concluded with the historic yet familiar depictions of the modern-day Beatitudes at the Solanus Casey Center.
Ask, seek, knock.
For more than three years I’d envisioned myself at Father Casey’s tomb, so imagine the sensory overload once there!
Oh, my gosh! How special to discover three very powerful words from one of my favorite Bible verses etched on the glass door leading to the Beatitudes!
Ask, and you will receive. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened to you. For the one who asks, receives. The one who seeks, finds. The one who knocks, enters. If you, with all your sins, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to anyone who asks him! (Matthew 7:7-8, 11).
While resizing photos for this post yesterday, I searched for Beatitudes online and found references to Matthew, chapter five, not only as verses one through ten, but also as one through twelve.
Hmm. I reached for my Bible to clear up the discrepancy.
Seeing the Beatitudes on the page, my mind went off on a tangent. Father Pat gave each of us in his high school CCE class a copy of the New Testament, so we became quite familiar with the gospel readings. But why did the title, the “Sermon on the Mount,” not ring a bell?
The ol’ pea brain suddenly exploded with a plethora of memories that included the women’s ACTS retreat, March 29 through April 1, 2012.
After I registered for the retreat, I pestered Steven off and on. “Is confession required? Why do I have to go to confession with someone I don’t know?” I was seriously, rebelliously, thrown aback by the notion of having to confess to someone other than our parish priest.
Steven was so tired of my whining that he finally said, “Look, if you don’t want to do it, don’t.” Of course, he also added, “Everyone else will do it, but you don’t have to.”
Hmm. I could read between the lines, but fine.
The retreat was too noisy for me. I wanted some quiet time alone to rest before our next group activity. The ice-cold temperature in our dorm the night before had kept me from sleeping, but napping was out of the question. I’d be wide awake again that night and even more mentally drained the next morning.
I’ll lie down and read the “Sermon on the Mount.”
Two months prior Father Xaviour had summarized the passage in one of his homilies. “For all the answers to all your questions just look to the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ in Matthew, chapter five, especially if you want to make a good confession,” he’d told us.
I’d been clueless— a tabula rasa— on hearing the title, so I’d vowed to read and find out what I’d missed.
Opening my Bible to Matthew 5:1-12, I smiled. There in all their glory were the Beatitudes, cherished nuggets, heralding chapters five, six, and seven, the familiar teachings of Jesus.
But the title… How could my eyes have glossed over the title all these years?
The team leaders began rounding up the group. Still immersed in my thoughts, I closed my Bible and walked to our meeting place. I felt refreshed and energized… until the unexpected happened.
Oh, my gosh! Confession time! Why? How do I get out of it?
I was angry. I was upset. I didn’t know what to do. Finally, I got up to look for one of the team leaders I knew. Quietly, I spoke into her ear, “If I’d known I had to do this, I wouldn’t have come.”
“It’s okay. You don’t have to do it. Just go sit down. It’s all right,” she reassured me.
It’s all right.
The words registered as a text tail on an electronic marquee.
My friend’s soft voice was so soothing that, without giving confession a second thought, I walked over to sit beside the woman who was next in line. I was cool, calm, and collected as I waited. Then, when my turn came, I simply walked into the makeshift confessional. I was so filled with gratitude that I didn’t even worry about what to say.
During our talk the SOLT priest and I had an amazing dialogue. We even gifted each other with heartfelt epiphanies.
“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” I exclaimed afterwards.
As I exited the confessional I felt empowered. Wholly exhilarated and light on my feet, I also had an open invitation to Our Lady of Corpus Christi for Mass and confession anytime at all.
For some time God had been whispering… Ask. Seek. Knock. Yet, my refusal to let go had kept me from opening the door.
Why I’d made a mountain out of a mole hill I have no idea, but God never gave up. He used a familiar voice to whisper his message: It’s all right.
Then, having been liberated from my misguided notions, I entered and received God’s healing grace.
Still, I have to wonder about God’s sense of humor in regard to his lovely favors. Even when we internalize the message, God checks for understanding. Through subtle hints or hard konks on the head he seems to say, “I still remember. Do you?”
Take yesterday, for instance. We arrived a bit early for the All Saints vigil; so Steven and I sat with our dear friends, Carmen and Carlos. We conversed as quietly as we could about Father Casey and the Solanus Center before Father Xaviour rang the bell for us to rise for the start of Mass.
Imagine my delight when Father’s gospel reading was the “Sermon on the Mount!”
I smiled for the remainder of Mass, then talked nonstop on our drive home about the timeliness of my blog post.
To God everything’s a teachable moment, impeccably delicious, perfectly timed. The Beatitudes are not only part of the “Sermon on the Mount,” but also a universal lesson and, certainly, a memorable anecdote in my book of life.
Moreover, the Beatitudes at the Solanus Casey Center are true-life depictions of eight extraordinary individuals celebrated for all time: Dorothy Day (Poor in spirit; 1897-1980); Jean Donovan (Mourn; 1953-1980); Takashi Nagai (Non-violent; 1908-1951); Clement Kern (Justice; 1907-1983); Teresa of Calcutta (Merciful; 1910-1997); Catherine de Hueck Doherty (Pure of heart; 1896-1985); Martin Luther King, Jr. (Peacemakers; 1929-1968); and Oscar Romero (Suffer persecution; 1917-1980), respectively.
Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-12)
When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Steps to sainthood
“When we commemorate the saints we are inflamed with another yearning: that Christ our life may also appear to us as he appeared to them and that we may one day share in his glory,” (St. Bernard of Clairvaux, 1090-1153).
October 10, 2013
Father, give me more of your spirit so that I will keep asking, seeking, and knocking for your kingdom. As I do, give me a revelation of who Jesus is and how much he loves all of us (the Word among us, October 2013, p. 30).
March 30, 2014
“Don’t forget that the saint is not the person who never falls but, rather, the one who never fails to get up again, humbly and with a holy stubbornness” (St. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer).
May 7, 2014
“You will become a saint by complying exactly with your daily duties” (St. Mary Joseph Rosello).
August 10, 2014
“It is indeed more through suffering and persecution than through eloquent preaching, that God wills to establish his kingdom in souls” (St. Thérèse of Lisieux).
November 15, 2014
“The greater and more persistent your confidence in God, the more abundantly you will receive all that you ask” (St. Albert the Great).
March 17, 2015
The saint does not view sacrifice as an executioner with a sword who will take away his life, but as a yoke that is sweet and a burden that is light. The devout do not hate life because life hates them or because they have drunk of its dregs and found them bitter, but because they love God more; and, in loving God more, they dislike anything that would tear him away (Venerable Fulton J. Sheen).
March 25, 2015
Overmuch sorrow makes the door of the confessional heavy to open, for fear that a voice inside will be as hard and cold as the shrill modern sirens that led so many to physical and moral death. But when the door is opened, there is “joy in the presence of the angels of God” (Fr. George W. Rutler, 2015).
March 27, 2015
All hope consists in confession. In confession there is a chance for mercy. Believe it firmly. Do not doubt, do not hesitate, never despair of the mercy of God. Hope and have confidence in confession (St. Isidore of Seville).
“Remember, every saint had a past and every sinner has a future” (Fr. Robert Barron).
May 4, 2015
Sin is a blazing fire. The less fuel you give it, the faster it dies down; the more you feed it, the more it burns” (St. Mark the Ascetic).
May 5, 2015
Do you really want to be a saint? Carry out the little duty of each moment: do what you ought and concentrate on what you are doing (St. Josemaría Escrivá).
December 10, 2015
“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less” (C. S. Lewis).
December 11, 2015
Whatever mission God gives us, no matter how common it may appear, carries within it our potential sainthood. What God asks of us during our lifetime is the most appropriate and suitable means to our growth in holiness— whether our lives remain ordinary or take an extraordinary turn (Julie Onderko, Discover Your Next Mission From God).
January 14, 2016
You must be willing, for the love of God, to suffer all things, namely labors and sorrows, temptations and vexations, anxieties, necessities, sickness, injuries, detractions, reprehensions, humiliations, confusion, correction, and contempt. These things help to obtain virtue; these try a novice of Christ; these procure a heavenly crown (Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ Challoner).
May 6, 2016
You don’t need to wallow in guilt. Wallow in the mercy of God. When you are guilty, say so to God through a confessor. Acknowledge your problems and sins. The moment you have stated them, God puts his hand over you and you are a newborn babe (St. John Marie Vianney).
July 13, 2016
“The confessional is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better” (Pope Francis).
August 9, 2016
Remember that, each time you pick yourself up after a fall, the feast of the prodigal son is renewed. Your Father in heaven clothes you again in his most beautiful cloak, puts a ring on your finger, and tells you to dance with joy. In a living faith you will not approach the confessional with dragging feet, but as if you were going to a feast (Fr. Jean C.J. d’Elbée, I Believe in Love).
August 30, 2016
“In our joys, in our troubles, in the contempt that others show us, we must always say ‘thank you, my God’ or ‘glory to God’” (St. Jeanne Jugan).
Links of interest… Beatitudes: according to Matthew / Bible / for kids / fostering love in the home / Jesus Christ Savior / man of the eight beatitudes (Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati) / New Advent / on film: love lifts us up / Tripod / way of life / Wikipedia / YouTube… Call of service: A witness to idealism: book review / preview / servant leadership / spirituality & practice / summary… Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph: ministries / weekly re:cap… Catherine de Hueck Doherty: about (more) / book / foundress / poem / poustinia: desert (book) / servant of God (videos) / sobornost: unity (video) / spirituality… Church of the Beatitudes (Josemaría Escrivá – Opus Dei)… Clement Kern: Conscience of Detroit (more) / “labor priest” / papers (more – photo) / priest & pastor (more) / statue… Confession: combating pride / easier than stepping on the scale / God’s healing mercy / light’s on for you / sacrament… Dorothy Day: about / saint for our time / worker movement (model for the church)… Franciscan saints calendar… Jean Donovan: about (more) / life & example / martyrdom (more) / movie… Learn to heal painful memories… Martin Luther King, Jr: about / center / civil rights movement / life in photos / peace prize / quotes… Oscar Romero: about / biography / last sermon (1980) / literature / peace hero (outspoken) / prayer / quote (homily) / saint effort “unblocked” (long tangled path) / seven sermons (Lent) / step along the way (prayer)… Rosa Parks… Sainthood: declaring someone a saint / ever wonder how a saint is made / odds on becoming a saint / patron saint list (more – more) / promoting / what is (more) / who is a saint / why we love the saints / why miracles should remain a requirement for canonization… Scripture speaks: Can we be perfect / Christ’s assurance… Sermon on the Mount… Solanus Casey Center: Beatitude people (videos) / home / shrine / virtual tour… St. Augustine’s commentary on the Sermon on the Mount… St. Francis de Sales’ guide to reconciliation… Takashi Nagai: about / all that remains (blog) / books / conversion & love / family / lessons / Nagasaki: memorial museum / no more / song (book)… Teresa of Calcutta: about (more) / biography (more) / center / peace prize / road to sainthood (more) / saint of light, saint of darkness… Tips on how to confess well… Vatican doctors approve the miracle to make Wojtyla a saint… the Word among us…
WP posts… Budding relationships… Call of service… Capuchin church stations… God’s master plan… Holy relics… Honoring Joselito (St. José Luis Sánchez del Río)… Mercy and justice… Quiet prayer time… Si quaeris miracula… Solano, Solanus, Solani (Venerable Father Casey)… St. Bonaventure Church… St. Felix… Then and now… Venerable Julia Navarrete (of the thorns of the Sacred Heart)… Venerable Margaret (of the Blessed Sacrament)
Filed under: Beatitudes, call of service, Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Clement Kern, Dorothy Day, Jean Donovan, Martin Luther King Jr., Oscar Romero, prayer, retreats, shrines, spiritual gifts, St. Teresa of Calcutta, Takashi Nagai, Venerable Solanus Casey | Tagged: building community, God's master plan, Our Lady of Corpus Christi (OLCC) Retreat Center-Corpus Christi TX, overcoming adversity, Solanus Casey Center-Detroit MI | Leave a comment »