At last weekend’s Mass, our celebrant was one of our retired priests. Our parish here in Mesa is large, and consists of a large number of retired people — many who are winter visitors coming from the Midwest states. In fact, in addition to our pastor and his assistant, we have five retired priests who help out the full-time priests. Out of the five, three are from Minnesota who moved to AZ for the same reason other retired people have — to leave the icy cold and snowy climes behind them. Given our huge parish, I’m sure our pastor thanks God daily for the help of these elderly priests.
The priest who said Mass is a monsignor, which is a step above a priest, and a step below a bishop. He’s one of the priests that comes from Minnesota. He began his homily with the words, “I come from a family of four, and our mother wasn’t an affectionate person. I didn’t get a lot of hugs or kisses from my mother.”
He had my attention, because he could have been talking about our family.
He went on to explain that his mother was one of 13 children, and she was born on a farm in Missouri. That, too, struck me because my mother was the youngest of 14 children. She, too, was born on a farm in Boone County, Nebraska.
Parallel universes, no?
The gospel was from St. John, and he told the story of John the Baptist. John was baptizing folks in the Jordan River and prophesizing about the coming of the Messiah. Many thought he was the Messiah, but while he could have taken credit, John was very clear to those who followed him that he was the one who prophets had indicated would come first and introduce the world to the Savior for whom they had all been awaiting.
I was curious to find out how (or if) Monsignor was going to tie the story of his mother back to St. John, and he did. He went on to explain that his mother, while not affectionate, took wonderful care of his family. Like my mother, his mother taught humility. At his ordination, one of his mother’s friends asked his mother, “It is so wonderful to have a priest in the family. Aren’t you so very proud of him?” to which his mother replied, “I’m proud of ALL of my children.”
It reminded me of when my mother would tell me, “Remember, no one is better than you, and you are no better than any one else.”
In yesterday’s blog post, I complained that customer service was becoming a thing of the past. I’m also inclined to think that parents are not as apt to preach humility to their children as I’ll bet most Baby Boomers will claim their parents did. I have absolutely no scientific research on which to base that idea. As a blogger, I claim literary license!
Later that day, I told Bill that when Monsignor began describing his mother, I thought about my mother.
“For that matter,” I said to him, “he could have been describing your mother.”
Bill agreed, as Wilma — who I loved with all of my heart — was not warm and fuzzy.
Bill added, “I think many people our age would say the same thing.”
We were loved, but not coddled.