A short Easter message
Whether you are religious or not, Easter and Passover coincide with a time of rebirth and renewal and this can be true both for the nature that’s around us and in our relationships with one another.
I am not a religious man. Raised Catholic, I have curiously researched many other beliefs. Although I am tolerant of most teachings, I’m not convinced of the supreme righteousness of any in particular or of the preponderance of their dogma.
However, this weekend touches a part of my childhood like no other.
My brother, Michael, is a Catholic priest, and up to last fall was living in Rome. He is a man of great faith and probably the most intelligent person I have ever met. He is not only tolerant of other faiths but of non- believers, as well. He describes himself as socially progressive and as a man who has a deep and abiding personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He is selfless, kind, compassionate, well loved and is abundant of love for others. He is a good man.
I’ve had many friends and acquaintances struggling with illness or hardship. Quite a few have asked me to see if he would remember them or their loved ones in prayer. Every time I have asked him, he has never refused. He never asks their denomination or even their religion, but he always lends his faith, in their name.
These days, I find myself asking him more and more often to do this. Times are hard and people are scared.
For almost two years, Michael prayed and dedicated masses for a friend of mine with cancer, even though he never met her. She passed away in February 2011, but he still asks after her family by name.
Lorraine was a devout Catholic and told me a number of times that she found great comfort knowing that Michael was praying for her in Rome. I cared deeply for her and her family, and found relief in her comfort.
Michael has presided at the marriages of our siblings and performed the funeral masses for our parents, for our brother in law and for other family members.
He has baptized nieces and nephews and he has had to commend the souls of two of them to heaven. He performs all these actions, both the joyous and the tragic, with immense courage and fortitude.
He is a solace and a source of happiness to all of us that know him.
I am sharing this, not to convince anyone of the power of faith, of religions or of their acolytes. I’m not convinced myself of any ‘broad brush’ approach to these issues. I am not sharing this as a counterpoint to those who rail against religion, faith and/or the Catholic Church and its priests. Religions are followed and practiced by human beings and all human beings are flawed.
I am sharing this, I guess, because I know a priest who I love and respect. He embodies what I think that all religions and in fact, all people, should embrace in their core values. I know that not all do, but I wish that they did.
And I’m sharing this because Easter makes me miss him and in missing him, I miss the humanity that sometimes is very lacking in this world where we live.
Happy Easter everyone. I hope that you will be surrounded by your family, in spirit, if not always in body. This is a season of re-birth following a long and hard winter and I wish you all the best. If we love and care for each other…If we spend more time recognizing virtues, in place of criticizing faults….we are going to be okay.
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