Monday, May 19, 2014

Franciscan Flu

Outliving One's Parents

One expects to outlive one's parents. Indeed it is counted a tragedy for a parent to outlive their children. The first anniversary of my mother's death passed without comment on January 23.

Aside from not being Catholic, her death was such to make a person envious. Painless, peaceful, with her son reading her favorite psalm -- Psalm 91. She recited it every night before she went to sleep. Before she passed away there came a point where the only words she could say were "upon this rock." Perhaps she was signifying her desire to die with Peter.

There is another way to outlive a parent, however. My dad lived to be 56, a mark I recently passed. He died suddenly, without warning. He was a good man who delighted in helping other people. I was 19 years old. I had just been promoted to SGT at Defense Language Institute, where I was back for more Arabic training. In fact that was the last conversation I had with him.

I had always figured 56 was a ripe old age, and felt that my internal doomsday clock was set for the same year. As 57 nears, I think two things, three do I consider.

On Nearing 57

The age of 56 is by no means as old as I once imagined. I think of clients who will be going to prison until they are 35 and wailing that their lives will be over. I always get a mordant chuckle out of that.

I am not likely to go anywhere soon. In theory, I could be elected pope twenty years from now, and have an important and demanding job. The "sell by date" feeling needs adjustment. I need to become forward-looking again.

On the other hand, the fifties are a dangerous decade. A man hasn't quite outlived the more common causes of death, especially sudden death that become rarer in later decades. There's a new sense of urgency in spiritual matters. We all need to be ready, but 56-year-old men perhaps more ready than most.

I have been spiritually ravenous. Lent seems to have carried over for once. The good habits -- some of them -- seem to have stuck. There is a sense of perspective about things, especially about controversies.

Buenos Aires Ennui

I was reading St. Louis de Montfort last night. The Church in France was in terrible shape at the end of the late 17th -- early 18th centuries. I am not going to play the "the Church has always been in a mess" card, because I do not believe we have ever seen a heresy sweep the field as thoroughly from the very top to the bottom as Modernism has. But there is some truth to it. The Church has never been cared for as well as those who love her best want. The most ardent have often had to settle.

Those of a similar age to the Bear's current human incarnation have seen what can only be called a palace coup. Most Catholics cannot remember pre-Vatican II days. How can we so long for that we have never known? There is a holy instinct, I believe, at work. Perhaps the Holy Spirit has marked a remnant.

I don't think, however, the Holy Spirit wants us to constantly stoke the fires of indignation that power the element of the Catholic blogosphere to which St. Corbinian's Bear belongs because it doesn't fit anywhere else. Indignation is a valuable commodity because there is an insatiable market for it these days

We should comment occasionally, but it is, frankly, lazy to run a blog like that. The easiest thing in the world is to check out the Vatican website and write about Pope Francis' latest bizarro comment. Is there anyone reading this that hasn't heard it all before?

We never know how much time we have left. The Bear will comment on new developments, but somehow he has to get out of the Pope Francis Rut. And he's not just talking about the blog. What do you think? Do you suffer from a case of the Franciscan Flu? Argentinian Ague? Buenos Aires Ennui?


  1. Today I assisted at a funeral dinner for a 53 yr old man. He was recently remarried and was on his honeymoon. Both he and his new bride had lost their spouses to tragedy. He died when the scuba gear malfunctioned.
    I always thought that I would die young but now I will be 38 with 6 children and 1 grandson on the way. Young has passed me by :) As for Pope Francis, I am done with rdg about him. I will pray bc that is the only place I find any charity. Blessings :)

  2. Complimenti! "Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth."

  3. I am definitely suffering from the Franciscan flu. More goat pictures would be medicinal! So are your musings, even when I have heard the news already. You often give a helpful perspective.


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