One of my sisters-in-law, who lives in Madeira, informed me about this.

A week from tonight, March 8 at 7pm, St. Gertrude’s is hosting a talk by David Mills, “Mercy Begins in the Mind.”

I worked with David some years ago when he was editing Touchstone and later First Things. He is a very thoughtful Catholic man. If I only lived closer than 8 hours I would go to St Gertrude’s next Tuesday.

Here is the parish’s announcement:

http://www.stgertrude.org/LentenReflection2016

The new Human Life Review (Fall 2012) is out. I have an essay in it, but it’s not online.  The rest of the issue is quite good.

no rotation fall 2012 cover copy

The video shows an excavator knocking down my grade school, Ss. Peter and Paul in Norwood, just a few weeks ago.  Sad, sad, sad.  Four Murray boys went through there in the 20s and 30s, and two more in the 60s and 70s.  The frieze over the arches on the front porch read “Pro Deo et Patria,” and that was what we were taught.  The view here is from the back, on the paved playground, looking up the hill, roughly to the east.

I can’t get too nostalgic about the place–but I do still dream about running through the halls and down the stairs every once in a while.  When I started there in 1965 there were about 250 kids.  The school itself after the usual mergers and closings moved out to St. John in Deer Park, and since moved to Sacred Heart in Reading.  The grand tour of blue collar suburbs.  I wonder where all the Catholics went.

The building to the left of the school in the video is the former Mt. St. Mary’s seminary.  From that side of the seminary, Cardinal Pacelli spoke to the interested in fall 1936.  My dad was there.

The school building was plain brown brick, with some Italian Renaissance ornamentation.  I think it deserved a better end, but a school without students can’t be a school.

I went to a Mass yesterday that had an interesting story behind it. I hope you won’t mind an extended description. I am so quick to gripe about What’s Wrong with The Church that I think a story about What’s Right with The Church shouldn’t be kept under a bushel basket.

The intention was for a colleague who died on Thanksgiving day. She actually taught for most of the semester, but the cancer became much worse quickly. For various reasons, in my reading between the lines related to Old World ways of doing things, her mother wasn’t called to make the trip from Italy until it was almost too late. Now the mother, racked with grief, is helping close up her late daughter’s affairs.

One problem is that the mother does not speak English, and my late colleague had no other family in the US. Two other profs, one of whom knows Italian, the other uses Google translate, have been helping a lot and generally keeping Mama (as she is happy to be called) under their wing. Luckily there is a younger Italian guy in my department who can translate and also keeps an eye on Mama.

Mama asked to go to Mass last Sunday, and so my Italian economist colleague got a recommendation from friends on which church to go to–one near downtown, staffed by Paulists. It is the kind of Mass, I gather, where people stand around talking afterwards. Some parishioners chatted with my pal, and tried to chat with Mama, and quickly pieced together what had happened. Now my late colleague wasn’t much of a churchgoer, so there had been no funeral Mass, although the burial was at a monastery. The parishioners, total strangers to Mama and my junior colleague, suggested to Mama to have a Mass said at that church, and they would provide flowers and a small choir, and a reader. So Mama was very pleased at the idea of a Mass.

The Mass was yesterday. Between the parishioners and College faculty, students, staff, and the president and his wife, the day chapel filled up and then some with 25-30 people, so we had to move into the rather grander main sanctuary. I guess that’s what we all want at our funeral, right–more people show up than anyone expected.

The priest, who as it turned out I had loosely known in grad school when he was a chaplain at Ohio State, gave a really nice Mass, by the rule book as far as I could see, and it was nice to see how many in the crowd went to receive Communion (which the Padre noted was for Catholics in good standing). The big book in the pew was an African American Catholic hymnal dedicated to Fr Clarence Rivers, which was the only Cincinnati connection of the day. Afterwards a line formed to offer condoglianze to Mama.

As if these parishioners weren’t kind enough to get the Mass organized, while I stood with the two senior faculty who had taken Mama under her wing, some of the locals came up and offered to take Mama out in the day to the local botanical gardens or other parks.  (She’s going to be here for a couple more weeks.)  These were total strangers to Mama, her helpers, and her late daughter, who were simply offering to take care of a fellow Christian who was in unbelievable pain, in a strange city, and unable to speak the language.

I felt humbled. You know how you read about some people who really ‘get’ Jesus and love their neighbor–it seemed like I was in their presence. That is some parish, the Spirit is with them. I just wanted to acknowledge them, that St. Patrick’s in Memphis has some wonderful Catholic people there. May God continue to bless them.

Our family went to St. Louis last weekend. Great city! I was raised to believe that Cincinnati was the greatest place in the world, but on the scale of Cincinnati-ness, St. Louis wasn’t too far behind.

On Sunday morning we attended a Low Mass at the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales staffed by the Institute of Christ the King. A really beautiful old church, well attended Mass. Priest had a French accent but sure knew his Latin. The size of the church and Gothic style reminded me a bit of de Sales church in Walnut Hills.

Made me wonder how things were going at St. Mark’s in Evanston. Can any readers report on how things stand there? I hope things are coming along well.

Last weekend I went to Phoenix, Arizona, for my aunt’s 90th birthday party. This is my mother’s last sibling and the only other one who came to America. The party was great, and I loved hearing plenty of stories from my aunt about the old country and what it was like coming to New York in the late 1940s. My aunt, happily, is very alert and capable, and still has her sunny demeanor and great sense of humor.

One highlight, for her more than for me, was Mass. We went to her parish church, and this was her first trip to Mass in several months. Her parish had recently built a new building (growing suburban parish) which she had not yet seen but was anxious to see. Auntie gets around in a motorized scooter and simply can’t make it to Mass on her own. A dear and conscientious shirt-tail relative takes her occasionally, but, that’s life when you have limited mobility.

The Mass began with handshaking, and had all that stirring show-tune music–it stirs up strong feelings–that we love so much. I am not writing to complain, except maybe about my own proclivity to complain. My aunt was soooo happy to *be there* at Mass, and not just to watch it on TV. She thanked me several times for taking her, but of course it was a privilege for me.

Just going to Mass with someone who wants to go but cannot very often really gave me a little spiritual insight into how lucky we are. We are obligated to go weekly, and for some it is a real trial to attend a groovy modern liturgy. But to think about not being able to go to Mass very often…just made me fell lucky (blessed, really) to live within walking distance of three churches.

Did anyone go to the Stand Up for Religious Freedom rally today?  I see on the SURF website they estimated 2,500 came to the event in Cinti.  They estimated 150 for here in Memphis; my wife and I looked around and thought it might be closer to 200.

The MC was a lobbyist of some sort from Nashville.  Speakers included a Catholic deacon, an Orthodox priest, a lady from a prolife pregnancy center, and a Muslim guy.  All hammered on the First Amendment problems with the HHS/Obamacare mandate.

I had been to prolife public events that involved prayer, and political events where we just listened to speakers.  The people at this “rally” seemed pretty reserved and polite–Southern, really.  Black and white, young and old, men and women, downtown workers and families from the ‘burbs.  A nice crowd, with a half dozen quiet, sign holding counterprotesters (“Birth control is health care”).  50 yards away were 3-4 tents with Occupy Memphis signs–don’t know where the people were.

Overall, very interesting.  I hope somebody gets the message.