Here I am, giving Bishop-Elect Robert Barron some spiritual direction last Monday night.
No, seriously, I attended the Vesper service at the downtown L.A. cathedral last Monday, the night before our three new auxiliary bishops were ordained, and it was lovely.
While there, I ran into Linda Dakin-Grimm, who is a corporate lawyer and big mover-and-shaker in the Church.
Linda and I first met a few years ago over coffee at the Casbah Cafe. At that point, she was looking to donate some spare change to the tune of well let's say I gather a considerable sum to a worthy cause.
I know an opening when I see one. I didn't think of the poor, the suffering, the war-torn, the needy, the marginalized, the hungry of the world and then discard them. I'm not THAT crass!
No indeed. In my usual selfless way, I didn't think of those people AT ALL. I went straight to my own personal favorite cause and suggested to Linda that she might want to support my blog.
Linda, however, had bigger fish to fry and went on to support several Catholic high schools in LA and I think just had a library named after her and is underwriting some huge project in Peru and I don't know what all else. She does good work!
Anyway, Linda, seeing me hang about the fringes in my usual misfit way after Vespers, took pity on me and "put me on the list" for the post-ordination dinner Tuesday evening at the Omni. That made me happy as I love a free meal and it is nice to be included.
Then, out in the courtyard of the Cathedral, I met these three nuns, from the Servants of Mary, who live in the West Adams neighborhood of L.A. and who go to the sick and dying IN THEIR HOMES and take care of them: clean the person (they are nurses), the house, feed the pets, water the plants. Pray of course. Bring the Eucharist to those who are Catholic.
This particular group their hours were 8:30 pm to 6 am. So they sit vigil in a sense ALL NIGHT. I asked, "How do the people find you?"
"Oh, they just call"...
They take no money for their services and they will go regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic status, age, or illness of the person in need. They were lively and vibrant and cheerful and had a sense of humor. They wore the full habit.
I was very moved by these unheralded, almost completely anonymous nuns, and their ministry. Before going to sleep that night, I thought about how different people have different watches, and that 24/7 in our crazy city (and world of course) someone with a heart is perpetually at the wheel...
At the Omni the next night, I knew absolutely no-one besides Rozann Carter of Bishop Barron's Word on Fire Ministries. Fr. John Muir of Phoenix who I had met for all of two minutes the night before, and Fr. Jarlath Cunnane, who is an A-1 human being and a bosom friend of one of the other new bishops, Bishop David O'Connell, and who I met when he was the priest at St Thomas the Apostle in Pico-Union and I was a lecter.
When cocktail hour was over, I thus had to approach a table of complete strangers and ask if I could join them, a practice I have come to see as quite valuable toward the formation of a grateful and humble soul.
A totally dear man with a large silver cross around his neck patted the seat next to him and said "Sit right down." Thus turned out to be (Auxiliary) Bishop Eduardo Nevares of Phoenix and he could not have been more welcoming or helpful. Also at the table were several sisters from a convent called Disciples of the Divine Master (I'm pretty sure), and a couple from Downey, CA.
Linda, ambassadress that she is, graciously came by my table to embrace me and introduce me around a bit.
,I'd serendipitously grabbed the table directly in front of the lectern and had a bird's-eye view of the short post-dinner talk given by each of the three new aux. bishops. One told Irish jokes, one sang part of "Danny Boy," and they all said "Pray for us." I consider that a very auspicious start.
I'm not big on crowds, pomp or circumstance but I also totally appreciated and enjoyed being there to welcome these three fine priests as they embark on the next leg of their journey. We're graced to have them.
And I can't stop thinking about those Servants of Mary, Ministers to the Sick, keeping their around-the-clock unseen watch.
|THE SERVANTS OF MARY AT THE BEACH|