|ST PATRICK'S CATHEDRAL.|
PRAY FOR US TOURISTS!
Whoa. Life is speeding by so quickly that I'm not able to quite catch up.
Last week at this time I was in NYC.
I was in town to accept an award from the Association of Catholic Publishers: Holy Desperation (Loyola Press) won first place in the "Inspiration" category and Best Book of the Year.
As I told them, the last time I won an award was in eighth grade. So the whole event was quite exciting.
Loyola put me up at a fancy hotel and I spent a good part of my time feeling like I was using up way too many "resources." Should I fast, for instance (even though I wasn't paying), in order to make up for the inordinate price of my hotel? I ordered room service the first afternoon, thinking to stretch my modest order over two meals, so ate half and set the rest aside, only to return a couple of hours later and find the whole whisked away, the curtains and blinds drawn, and laid out beneath my bed a pair of terrycloth slippers, embossed with the hotel logo.
I took two baths in the giant tub. Walked a ton as always when I'm in NY. Ducked into St. Patrick's the first early evening after walking to Rockefeller Center from the Bowery for an interview on Fr. Dave Dwyer's radio show. Went to noon Mass at St. Francis of Assisi the second day.
Had a nice moment that afternoon in a little pocket park across from Muji (where I nabbed four small notebooks for a buck twenty-five apiece!). There I sat with a Starbucks venti iced Americano and eating from a plastic bag of Rainier cherries freshly purchased from the corner fruit man. A moment of respite from the frantic pace and noise of the city. Felt the sun on my face. Happy to simply sit with a random microcosm of humanity. One older lady who'd arrived on a bike read a book. The teenager next to me played her music too loud. A couple of middle-aged guys pored over a chessboard. Did not look at my phone, did not check up on news, did not read even. Just sat. Said a few Hail Marys.
The other "moment" of my trip occurred at Newark Airport the next morning as I waited to board my 9 a.m. flight. Deafeningly loud. Banks of TV screens blaring bad news and hideous piped-in electronic robot "music." People swarming all five group lanes of the United gates. All of humanity (of which, again, I am a proud member) shoving, sprinting, jostling.
Suddenly I thought--Do I hear a bird? I checked my "personal device" as I have somehow managed (an ordeal of several hours) to install a bird ringtone on my iphone, but no. Still, the more closely I listened the more I became convinced that a songbird had found his or her way into this cacophonous madness. I looked around in all directions. I checked the faces of my fellows to see if anyone else had a look of surprised and delighted wonder--again, nothing. Finally, I looked way way up to the very top of the soaring glass and steel pod and sure enough, perched on a cross-bar several stories up, was a tiny bird--a sparrow perhaps--that had found its way inside Terminal C and was singing its heart out!
I hailed my little fellow creature from below, it acknowledged me with a return salute, and then, its job done in that particular part of the airport, it sailed away I'm convinced to greet the next passenger ready and open for a love letter from the universe.
Today is the feast day of Thomas the Apostle who, again like me, often, doubted. Christ invited him to put his hand inside the wound in his, Christ's side. "My Lord and my God!" Thomas said. To which Christ responded, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."
But what does it mean to believe?
In today's Magnificat reflection, ex-Pope Benedict XVI observes:
"Our relationship with God is first of all and at the same time also a relationship with our fellow men and women: it rests on a communion of human beings, and indeed the communication of relationship with God mediates the deepest possibility of human communication that goes beyond utility to reach the ground of the person...
The knowledge of God demands inner watchfulness, interiorization, a heart that is open and that in silent composure becomes personally aware of its direct links with its Creator. But at the same time it is true that God does not reveal himself to the isolated ego and excludes individualistic isolation: being related to God is tied up with being related to our brothers and sisters, with communion with them."
I'm thinking this morning of the Statue of Liberty that guards New York Harbor, where my paternal grandparents arrived on a boat in the early 1900's. What has happened to: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore."
How any follower of Christ could want to exclude a single fellow human being is beyond me. Can anyone possibly imagine the Son of Man, who said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me" approving of the unconscionable ripping apart of families, and the general greed-based meanness, that is taking place on our borders and in our interior?
Thank you, Archbishop Jose Gomez, who has said again and again that it is the duty of all Catholics to speak out against this rank injustice.
This blot on our national conscience.