Mar 9, 2018
As a gift to my brother on the occasion of his ordination years ago, I told him that I would offer up all of my speaking engagements in thanksgiving for his vocation to the priesthood. This seemed an especially fitting and easy gift because I love speaking for groups and talking about our faith always brings me great joy.
At times, of course, my joy in this is strained.
One evening stands out as an example. I was scheduled to speak for an evening event, and I did not go on until 8:15 pm. I was tired, it was winter, dark, cold, windy, and one of those dreadful mixes of snow and sleet. I sat at my desk grumbling that I should be so put out as I printed out the text of my speech – the topic was, no less, praying through suffering. So, after a full day’s work, I bundled my body and braced myself for winter’s assault on the way to my car grumbling all the way.
But as I was driving to the gig, clutching the steering wheel, slumped over with brow furrowed, the Lord reminded me very clearly of my promise – to offer up in thanksgiving my speaking engagements on behalf of my brother, for the protection and flourishing of his priesthood. I immediately saw him the day of his ordination: he glowed like a perfect, brilliant sunrise. Another image flashed in my mind: little children running up to him after Mass, their earnest little arms extended to him with complete trust and affection. I thought of so many people who have been blessed to call my brother, Father, including me.
I immediately adjusted my attitude and went laughing into my talk, sensing God’s free rush of grace to give me stamina and sincere affection for the needs of my audience. The talk came off well and at the end, I was given a standing ovation. I wish I could claim that I am frequently the recipient of standing o’s, but I have to confess this was rather unusual. I laughed all the way home, even as I crept over the icy streets, making my way through the bitter winter’s darkness.