Sunday, August 10, 2014

Summers Past

   I sat outside looking out into my backyard this evening, and this is what I saw. Memories of years past when life was at a hectic but doable pace. A time when the sound of laughter and giggles abounded. Where every corner was a stretch to get back to home while not getting caught while playing "7 Steps Around the House." 

   A time of chasing lightning  bugs and grabbing an apple off the tree to eat on a late summer afternoon. And checking the books to see what type of bird was visiting the bird feeders.

  A time of hanging flower baskets from the clothes line post and day lilies blooming around the flag pole.  A time of apple and cherry blossoms.  A time of dark clouds in the north producing the fantastic lightning displays and clear nights of northern lights flashing in the heavens. 

   A time of beautiful sun rises and sun sets. A time of lazy summer days watching the billowing clouds in a bright blue sky, trying to see what each one looked like. A time of lying on your back on the picnic table trying to count the stars and watching for satellites and shooting stars as they zoomed across the sky.

   A time of gathering friends and family for an afternoon of volleyball and just sitting around a campfire, eating hamburgers, hot dogs and roasting marshmallows. 

   A time of sounds of birds, crickets, and frogs filling the air. And the breeze blow through the rustling leaves. A time of colored leaves in the fall and frosted trees in the winter.

   Memories of what once was, and though some of those things are still there, it is not the same tonight. As I sit in the silence with darkness coming in, and the memory makers have moved on to make memories of their own. 

   Ecclesiastes 1:4,9 One generation departs and another generation comes,
but the world forever stays.
   What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun!

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Last Words.

Ronald Majewski October 19, 1944 - May 8, 2012

   Yesterday was two years that my brother Ron past from this life to the next. It was a tough day as I went 22 hours with out sleeping. When I got home from work I had a few things to do and finally got in a short nap on a very dreary day. 
   I slept for maybe a hour or two and then woke up feeling very, for lack of a good word, apprehensive. I just started walking around the house aimlessly, not quite sure what I was doing. It seemed like I was looking for something but didn't know what. 

   I began to think of my brother, and the last conversation we had. I always heard of others say they wish they could have said certain things to their loved one before they died. It was hard that day to see my brother lying in bed, just a shell of what he was just a few months before.

   It was at a point where he was still alert to the things around him, but he could no longer speak, except in quite whispers. I basically just sat at the edge of his bed and held his hand. 

   Then the words just came out. "Ron I am really jealous of you right now." A look of confusion came on his face as I continued. " You are going to see Jesus before me!" At that point he took his other hand and started to rub mine, as in a way to comfort me. 

    Here I am at his death bed trying to comfort him, and he is comforting me!  With that he motioned to me to come closer and he gave me a kiss on the cheek and in a faint whisper said "It's OK I'm ready." 

   I gave him a kiss on the forehead and told him I loved him and that he will always be my older brother. That was the last time I seen my brother in this world as he pasted to the next a few hours after.

   I feel so fortunate to have been able to have that time with him, as many are never able to have that last chance to say good bye.

   I love you bro, always have and always will, for now and forever. Rest in peace my brother.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Mama, is that Jesus?

          A few weeks ago a co worker of mine started to talk with me and ask me questions about the Catholic faith. I don’t know if he knew I am a deacon, but it is pretty common knowledge in my department.
One day as we sat in the break room he told me that at one time he worked as a clerk for a heavy equipment company. At that time he had long hair and a beard. As he was waiting on a customer at the parts counter he heard her little girl asked her “Mama is that Jesus? 
He told me he felt ashamed. He considered himself a practicing Catholic, though he said he didn’t go to church as often as he would like too. But he felt ashamed, not because he doesn't know or love Jesus, he felt ashamed because he didn't know if the little girl was asking the question because he looked like Jesus on the outside, or looked like Jesus on the inside. He was hoping that it was the things he did for others that showed the Christ in him, more than his physical appearance.
          I have been thinking about that for the past few weeks, and sometimes when I do my Night Shift Of Prayer, I get some different thoughts going through my mind. One thing that came to me was that because we are made in the image and likeness of God did Jesus see himself when he looked at others?
          I wondered if he seen the compassion of Veronica, as she wiped his face, as the compassion he had shown to others? Did he see the despair of the women, who were weeping for him, as the same despair he had, as he wept over Jerusalem?
          Did he see the sorrow in Mary and Martha’s faces as the same sorrow he had for his friend Lazarus? Did he see the same hurt in Peter’s face, when he asked him three times if Peter loved him as the same hurt he felt when Peter denied him three times? Did he see the same joy in the children’s faces as the same joy he had when they would surround him with their playfulness and innocence.
Then another thought came to me, when I started to ponder the question that Fr Bob asks at funeral wake services, of how did the deceased person bring you closer to God.
Have we ever thought about how people would answer that question at your funeral? If we are to be Christ to others how do others see Christ in us? How on this Good Friday can we die to ourselves, to be able to allow Christ to live through us, to be able bring others closer to him?
As Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen once said “It is so hard to admit that one is a sinner; it is so hard to climb the hill of Calvary and kneel beneath a cross and ask for pardon, forgiveness. Certainly it is hard. But it is harder to hang there.”
So I leave you with this prayer in the form of a song by the JJ Weeks Band

Let them see You in me
Let them hear You when I speak
Let them feel You when I sing
Let them see You
Let them see You in me

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanks Giving 2013

   The reading at Mass today was about the ten lepers who were cured by Christ, and only one came back to give praise to God.

   I have always wondered about the other 9 lepers who were cured. They seem to be getting a bad rap, but weren't they following the instructions Jesus gave them? Maybe after they went to show themselves to the priest they came back to look for Jesus to thank him. Because the Samaritan didn't follow Jewish tradition maybe he thought it more important to go back and give thanks to the one who cured him.

   Today is a day we set aside for thanks giving but are we really thankful for what we need to be thankful for.

   Let me give you some examples: I am thankful that I have a job, but sad that I am not able to do something more satisfying. I am thankful that God call me to be a deacon but sad that I not able to minister to his people more than I am. I am thankful that I can help others in need but sad that I can’t do more. You see we always are thankful but we seem to always want more.

   I read somewhere that to be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of our existence is a gift of grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God.

   I have come to realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the open effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.

   I have also come to realize that we have not gotten to be where we are on our own. As much as we like to think we have there has been many in our lives that helped us on our journey.

   Stephen M. Wolf, was quoted to say “Each of us can look back upon someone who made a great difference in our lives, someone whose wisdom or simple acts of caring made an impression upon us. In all likelihood, it was someone who sought no recognition for their deed, other than the joy of knowing that, by their hand, another’s life had been made better.”

   We need to follow the example that the thankful leper gave us when he went back to Jesus This Thanksgiving lets take the opportunity to thank those that God has sent our way, who made a difference in our lives.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Chair

   It has been a little over two months since my youngest sister Lynn has gone to be with The Lord. I still miss her dearly. I miss the times I would go over to the house she lived at, and even though I knew she did not recognized me all the time, I loved to see her smile when she did.

   After the funeral I had the task of having to get her few worldly possessions. With the help of my wife, brother and sister-in-law we went through her things and decided what to do with them.

   Some of here favorite things, her hats and bead necklaces, we had taken to the funeral home and the next day to the church for anyone to take as a remembrance of Lynn. One of her "Bus Buddies" took some beads and then saw a piece of plastic mesh and a plastic string that Lynn would weave through it then undo it and do it again. When her buddy saw this she asked if she could have it, because, as she put it, "that was Lynn, that is how I want to remember her." She then ask if she took it would she have to put the beads back. I said no, Lynn would want,you to have both.

   One item I did bring home was Lynn's chair. A vinyl leather rocker recliner that she would sit in until she was confined to her wheel chair. The night before Lynn died the caregivers brought this chair in her room for me to sit and sleep in, as I kept vigil with her as she started her final journey.

   When we brought the chair home, my wife had good intentions when she moved my favorite chair and put Lynn's chair in its place. But I could not bring myself to sit in it. It stayed in that place until Joan realized that I was not ready to sit in it yet.

   I remembered her telling me one time when my daughter was over that she sat in it, because by doing so, it felt like she was getting a hug from Lynn.

   This morning I came into the living room and opened the blinds to let the warm sunshine in and saw the chair bathed in the light beckoning me to sit in it.

   So today November 7th, 2013 I sat in the chair and cried as Lynn hugged and rocked me in the warmth of her arms reaching me through the beautiful morning sunlight.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Talk To Them In Your Heart.

   Sometimes being a deacon has its draw backs, they are not all bad though. It has been a little over a month and a half since my sister Lynn passed away, and I really don't feel I have been able to grieve properly. I miss her dearly, but with working and trying to take care of her things that as her guardian I need to do, I haven't had the time to just sit down and think.

   The grieve counselors from the hospice place have called a few times while I was at work and I guess I really need to just talk with someone, but everything they have scheduled is on a day that I work. I am greatful that I have my brother and sister in law to talk to and that I have a spiritual director, whom I haven't been able to see yet, but there seems to be something missing. 

   I guess it is different when as a deacon I am asked to talk with others who are going through a loss of a loved one, or to explain to children about death. But it is harder to do when you yourself are trying to grieve. 

   At the funeral home my daughter gave my youngest grandson to me and told me that he had a lot of questions for me. He asked if he could see Aunt Lynn and I said sure so we went up front to where she laid in the casket. He asked if he could talk to her and I said sure. Then the question I knew was coming, "Why doesn't she talk back to me? Doesn't she like me anymore?" 

   Not going though the whole conversation I told him that she still loved him very much but could not talk to him the way she used to because she went to heaven and that it was just her body still here. 

   He asked then how could he still talk to her and would she still hear him. I told him he could talk to her in his mind and in his heart and if God willed it she would hear him. And if he listened very closely he might hear her speaking to him in his heart. 

   This seemed to satisfy him as he gave me a hug and wanted to go down and go back by his mom. I guess it really didn't make an impact on me until the next day at the funeral Mass. 

   My daughter told later that while they were sitting in the bench at church she seen Matthew with his head down and seemed to be talking about something. When she questioned him as to what he was doing he replied, " I am talking to Aunt Lynn in my heart."

Monday, September 9, 2013

Things My Sister Taught Me About Preaching The Gospel.

The following is the homily I gave for my sister Lynn’s Funeral Mass on September 5th, 2013

   If you could give me just a moment to compose myself so I can get through this, otherwise Lynn will be calling me a turkey.

   For those of you who knew Lynn, you knew that she pretty much had her own language. And the words she used could have different meanings, as my sister in law would say; it depended on the tone of her voice.

   Being called a turkey wasn’t always a bad thing but being called a hotdog had a totally different meaning, you didn’t want to be called a hotdog. But as I looked back on Lynn’s life it wasn’t the words she used as much as the acts she did that formed her being.

   St Francis has been attributed to have said "Preach the gospel at all times -- If necessary, use words."
Now I know that you’re not supposed to use the homily as a eulogy, but I don’t think I am, as much as I am using examples of Lynn’s life and how they relate to preaching the Gospel.

   Over the past 6 months I knew this day would come and I started to put together a homily. But this Monday about 5:30 in the morning I woke up withthoughts going through my head so fast I had to get up and start writing them down before I forgot them.

   I thought of the story of Jesus in the temple and how when Mary and Joseph found him he said “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house? This reminded me of when I would go to see Lynn at her home she would tell me, “You go home I stay here.” She knew she had work to do there.

   When I thought of the compassion Jesus showed to the lowliest of people, it reminded me of how Lynn’s caregivers, her second family at her home, would tell me how she would calm some of the others there, sitting by them and telling them that they will be ok.

   When I thought of Jesus at the wedding at Cana it reminded me of how Lynn loved weddings and dancing. It made me wonder what would of Jesus look like doing the chicken dance.

   When I thought of Jesus and the children and how he told the disciples not to hinder them, it reminded me of how accepting Lynn was of everyone she met. Jesus loved children for their innocence. He taught that entering heaven is not about greatscholarly knowledge, admirable accomplishments, or social status. It requires simple faith in God.

   Lynn was the most welcoming person ever. No matter who you were if you met her you got a hug and a high five. She was the official door greeter at her home.

   When I hear of Jesus’s unconditional love for his people I think of how it was expressed through Lynn, and of how many of you here experienced, not only her love but God’s love with every smile and hug that Lynn gave. I believe it was that love that brought many of you here today.

   I remember how when I was younger and still living at home, and then again when Lynn came to live with us those short 5 years, how I would say night prayers with her. How I would say the prayers out loud and Lynn would follow along in her own words, which sounded more like mumbles. I could not understand what she was saying but you could tell she knew and God knew

   In Romans 8 26-27 we are told that In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches heartsknows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.

   A few years ago I came across a prayer by St. Ignatius Loyola that helps me to make sense of Lynn’s life. It is called Dedication to Jesus and it goes like this.

Lord Jesus Christ, take all my freedom, and my memory, my understanding and my will. All that I have and cherish you have given me. I surrender it all to be guided by your will. Your love and grace are wealth enough for me. Give me these, Lord Jesus and I ask for nothing more. Amen

Now it is time to say Lynn, go with God, to break bread with the one whose life and death has guaranteed the everlasting life we seek. May his angels lead you today into paradise, as you begin your new life, in which health replaces illness, youth replaces age, and certainty replace doubt; as you enter the company of those loved ones who preceded you and as you wait for those who are to follow.  And when you see Mom Dad Ron and Kathy tell them we love them.

I know when the good Lord came to take you, you stopped at the gates of heaven turned around and said You go home, I stay here, and I say No Lynn you go home, I'll stay here.