October 24, 2008

Seeking the Face of the Lord

Catholic faith is a stable and unchanging support for us

Seventy-five years ago on Oct. 24, my Mom and Dad were married at St. Joseph Church in Jasper, Indiana.

They were married at a 6 a.m. weekday Mass by the pastor, Benedictine Father Basil Heusler.

It was a simple wedding because of the economic conditions of the time. And if you wanted Father Basil to witness your marriage, it was at the 6 a.m. Mass because that was the pastor’s Mass.

Mom died shortly before the 50th anniversary of their marriage. It was a simple wedding, yet Mom and Dad’s commitment in marriage was profound and that was evident throughout the years.

Their life together was simple, even in their more prosperous years. They were only able to have two children, and that was a disappointment.

Once my brother and I were on our way—he in college and me in the seminary—Mom resumed teaching at Holy Family School, and Dad continued being active in the Boy Scout movement and in the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

They were active in Holy Family Parish. When all is said and done, both parents ended up serving a lot more children than their own.

I mention the simple way in which they lived. I was a senior in high school (seminary) before they bought a television.

I recall in their later years they loved to watch virtually all televised sports. They enjoyed “The Lawrence Welk Show” on Saturday nights.

Their Sunday treat was to go to a local restaurant for lunch followed by a Sunday drive.

In October, they would pick me up at Saint Meinrad and we went to the Overlook Restaurant in Leavenworth, followed by a stop at a nearby apple orchard. Their life was simple. They did trade Ford cars on occasion, but that was the big purchase.

Their lives were simple, yet they were content. My folks placed a high value on working hard. They provided a simple but good life for my brother and I, and they expected us to work hard as well. We both grew to appreciate their example and what they did for us.

Both Mom and Dad had a certain serenity about them which I always admired. And so did other folks who knew them well. All through the years I could count on their calm manner, even when times could seem tough or kind of dark.

This calm spirit was also true during the evening of their lives when illness began to set in.

I think of Mom’s determination to do the rehabilitation after hip replacement, despite the pain and slow progress. I have mentioned my Dad’s gentle spirit in old age before.

Faith in God and love for the Church had a lot to do with the demeanor of both of my parents. I don’t mean to imply that they did not have their ups and downs. They certainly did, but their serene faith would win out.

I think simplicity and serenity were true of a lot of married couples of their era, or at least it seemed that way to me.

Faith as a way of life in our German Catholic community was taken for granted. Maybe faith and simplicity were more feasible because the waves of materialism and secularism had not washed over our society to the degree that it has in recent decades.

I think it is fair to say that you married couples live in substantially more difficult times. Simplicity as a way of life is more difficult to sustain. It is certainly not fostered as a value in our society.

Faith in God is virtually privatized by our culture; that is to say that God is often dismissed from public life, perhaps acceptable for weekend piety but that’s about it.

The pressures on our children and young folks, including young adults, are certainly greater than what my brother and I experienced. It is not that there weren’t the usual stresses associated with growing up and maturing in our day, but society was more supportive of spiritual and moral values. Parenting today is all the more challenging.

I pray a lot for you parents and especially for you young married couples. Cultural values may have changed, but please keep in mind that our Catholic faith is a stable and unchanging support for you.

I encourage you to value the strength and support of the sacraments of the Church. Christ gave us those sacraments as a necessary help for the journey of life in any circumstance.

You may not always feel like participating in the sacraments because society doesn’t count them as important.

But, believe me, fidelity to the Eucharist and the sacrament of penance will make all the difference in your lives. I pray that you give them a chance. It works. †

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