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Arkansas Catholic
Little Rock, Arkansas
August 12, 2000     Arkansas Catholic
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August 12, 2000

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PAGE 14 AUGUST 12, 2000 ARKANSAS CATHOLIC BISHOP'S COLUMN .J he day my father, had he lived, would have been 98 years old --June 1, 2000 --- we had to close the deal on selling our family home. My sister Rosemary and I, the oldest siblings in our family of eight, found ourselves sharing memories of this home that our Dad bought nearly 60 years ago, feeling a bit depressed even as we knew we had no choice but to sell. It happens to a lot of families. A parent dies, and the remaining parent, aging, needs full-rime care. The major asset, the family home, must be sold to pay for medical care and a nursing home Our mom, nearly 92, The Bottom Une Antoinette Bosco unable to care for herself, is well cared for in a home liter- ally a block from our family house. She says she's happy we found a buyer. On the surface, all is well. But deep- er down, in the heart, all is not so blissffd. Rosemary and I keep remem- bering how excited Dad was the day we moved into our two-fami- ly dty house, across the street from Lincoln Park in Albany, N.E Almost in tmison we said, "Do you remem- ber how his eyes were shining, and how he walked from room to room, so excited that he had finally achieved his dream of having very own house for his family?" We were budding teenagers, not old enough, perhaps, to really understand what owning a house meant to someone who had come to America from Italy atage 16 without a penny, all alone. We shared a room when we were kids, but Rosemary and I have shared so much more. I think the expression "soul sisters" was created to describe our rehtionship. This house was our father's dream, and he always wanted to share tho6e dreams with us. I ne morning last week I had the privilege of celebrating Mass for the Missionaries of Charity and a large group of children who were com- pleting a month-long "camp" run by the sisters and volunteers at Abba House. We were joined by members of the CXM. from Christ the King, who had been help- ing that week. The children had been learning about Jesus, working on all kinds of crafts, and having great fun. After Mass and a snack, they were off to the zoo. Through the years I have had many contacts with the Missionaries of Charity, and I am always struck by their powerfully simple wimess of faith and reminded to keep my witness equally simple. Mother Teresa first visited Memphis in 1988 at the request of then-Bishop Daniel Buechlein, who had asked that she open a house there. The bishop and I took her to the inner dty to visit several potential sites -- he and I in the front seats of my Mazda 323, Mother Teresa and her companion in the back. We listened attentively to their conversation. Mother said, "We will open a house in Memphis, then one in Moscow, then one in Beijing, and then another in Rome..." After the list had continued for a while, the other sister interrupted, "And where do you expect to get the sisters for these missions, Mother?" "God will send us the sisters," was the response. That was that. At each site, Mother sized up the situa- tion in her own way, then pulled a mirac- ulous medal from a sack and pushed it into the dirt of the dosest flower bed. She said a prayer asking the Blessed Mother to help her make the right choice. She eventually chose a large old home owned by a parish in the inner city;, but there are several other places where, unbeknownst to the neighbors, she plant- ed a seed of prayer to know God's will. Here in Litde Rock the Missionaries of Charity care for homeless women and then" children. They also teach catechism and Bible school, visit their neighbors and clean their homes if they can't do it themselves, and pray. Do you know what they really do? They empty them- selves. In the lan- guage of the Bible, that means they give them- selves without expecting any- thing in return. In the letter Bishop J. Peter Sartain to the Philippi- ans (2:5-8), St. Paul invites all Christians to follow the example of Christ: ...who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness... Though he was God, Christ became incarnate to show us that the perfect expression of human and divine life is to put ourselves completely at the service of one another, thinking of others' needs before our own. We are to have the same relationship of love with one another that we have with Christ. Mother Teresa was a striking example of this kind of self-emptying. But you mothers and fathers do the same, you grandmothers and grandfathers, you sons and daughters, you aunts and uncles, you friends and neighbors, we priests, sisters, brothers and deacons. No matter who we are, the call of Christ is the same: to empty ourselves, to give ourselves, to give up self- ishness and think of others. Mother Teresa reminded us how to do that: one person at a time. Her ministry began years ago when she took one dying man off the streets of Calcutta and cared for him in his last hours. One person at a time her sisters play with little children, clean the houses of the poor, bathe the elderly, and clean the sores of lepers. One person at a time they give of themselves, empty themselves, and love others as Christ Jesus. Mother Teresa did not eradicate pover- ty. She did not negotiate treaties for wodd peace (though she held her own with the world's most powerful leaders!). She did not find a cure for AIDS. But she taught us how to empty ourselves, one person at a time, and thus bring Christ's healing to oth- ers. Cathofic SodM Teaching reminds us that we are also to work for changes in sys- tems that perpetuate poverty and injustice, and it is for that reason that our diocese offers a variety of programs aimed at long- term change. Those programs, and the way of Mother Teresa, are complimentary. Aren't there people we could love a lit- de more cheerfully, to whom we could talk for just a moment longer, to whom we could give a word of encouragement? Isn't there someone we need to call, just to see how she's doing, just to ask how we can help? Isn't there an errand we could run for an elderly neighbor, a note we could write to someone who just lost a loved one? We empty ourselves one person at a time. No doubt Mother Teresa also planted seeds of prayer in the fower beds of Little Rock. Her sisters continue to plant those seeds through their work. We all plant the seed of Christ Jesus whenever we empty ourselves and serve,just as he did. "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; butif it dies, it produces much fruit... Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be" (John 12:24, 26). _J summer ,n my think the one that affected us most was his love ofmusic. He recognized Rosenaary's great tag 1-AThat is it about these days ofrailings draped with beach towels drying in August the unofficial iced tea month. ent for music and right away found a teacher August that makes you want to the late day sun. course, to some it's simply "tea" for whO. for her, who to this day remains her friend. breathe them in and hold themAugust is hanging flower baskets overflow earth would ever consider drinking it win, Rosemary shared her gift with me, teaching just a moment longer? More mature than ing with cascading ivy. It is family ,v' cations for out benefit of ice? And is it my imaginad me the joy of opera, symphonies, concertos. June, more robust than July, for me, the those who save the best for hst. It s summer or does that sole can of cold beveragee And as we thought of Dad s birthday and the sights, sounds and smells of August have night curbside choice seem even colder yet in the hazy la i pending dosing on the house, we felt the always been the crownjewel of the summer chats for neighbor- of a late August afternoon happy~sad paradox we all encounter at times trilogy, hood kids still too Speaking of temps, while the sight in our life: remembering how happy we made Being born in January, August birthdays young to drive, yet miniature September calendar tucked Dad with our music in our house, ahousethat have always seemed enviably better than old enough to stay on the comer ofthe August page suhtlyl would now belong to others, those celebrated in the colder, tundra cli- out until the street- of crisp mornings to come, any thoughtS It took several months to find a buyer. But mates that characterize the first of the year. lights come on. cooler days ahead are all hut banished as the man buying it is a father, tie wants the My 36-year-old cousin's August birthday is August is open- August sun swells in the sky to strut its_s house for his son, who will be attending a something I covet to this very da) toe sandals, brown sweltering stuff. Then, just when you tlai ..i pharmacy college about a half mile away. They Gardens, for those who unlike myself freckled faces, and you can t possibly stand one more was have told our family that they love the house aren't soil and water-challenged, produce at little girls in sun conditioned August moment, brief, bleSSW and plan to do some major, beautifying work Miracle-Gro rates during August. From azal- dresses. It is shirt- relief drifts in on an easy evemn breeZe.. -- " air on it. When we heard this, Rosemary and l felt eas to zinnias, color abounds making August MlU" Ce|lant u$ less boys mowing .... Andyes, I know for manv of us thej ;_ r#u r lawns It s the our depression somewhat subsided. Could it a bee fest at its best. And the only thing bet- Ihe;ese Roh . of the school bell m just around the co bejmt a coincidence that it is another father ter than biting into a big, fat, vine-ripened splash of driveway bringing with it a whole new slew of sclaet ' buying this house that our Dad so loved? tomato ever so lightly dusted with a shimmer swimming pools and wails of wet footprints ules and commitments, but that doesn't. . ! We think Dad had a hand in this. We think of salt? Biting into it a second time. making swift tracks toward the siren song of minute change the gifts Au,gus. t has to ' he had something to do with seeing to it that Swimming too is at its finest this month, the ice cream truck. Call me loopy, but there siust some his house would notbe washedin anyway, that Be it of the chlorinated, garden-hosed, civiUy August is the blessing of attending week- special: almost golden, aboutt.his time it would be occupied by people who care for engineered, or spring4ed variety, lazily float- day Mass, lingering afterward to visit for a few year. It s as ifwe rejnst now beginning to it, as he did. hag in some August H20 (preferably in a minutes. It's taking a walk in the early our summer stride; just now beginning | It's the end of an era when the family blackinner tube) isthe %aycoolest." evening to the steady beat of the cicada winddown, toslowdown ever so sligh%i |, home is no longer there. But that's life, a August is drive-by lemonade standsdrums. It is heading out on the lake for a we but allow it Slow, deep, breath in. :i | journo/, where we're ah ys moving on, but ma ..ed by three-foot-tall, vendor. It is spectacular sunset ow. slow, breath out..Augmt--you are awesO : can,.our _with m. ..... ......... .vegetal . _eroponurt .. It !s If someone ham. t done ! vote Thenne .P, hr_um - from.. _ .......