Posted by: fvbcdm | November 22, 2011

Feast of Saint Cecilia (22 Nov 2011)

This date, November 22, in the year 1963 in Dubuque, Iowa, was a balmy day, much like today in Houston.  My classmates and I had been ordained to the priesthood just the previous April.  We had just finished lunch, and were talking together in our recreation room before the time for afternoon chores began.  The telephone rang.  It was one of the priests in the part of the building where our professors lived, telling us to turn on the television: the President had been shot in Dallas.  I didn’t even know that the President was IN Dallas.  Within a few minutes, though, the sad news was confirmed: President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was dead.  I went to the chapel to pray for his repose before the Blessed Sacrament, and found myself beginning to cry.  I wondered why; I was not particularly fond of him, nor was I especially interested in politics, but the horror of our President gunned down right in the heart of one of our major cities was so shocking and outrageous that it brought tears then and for many days afterward. That was forty-eight years ago.  Years later, I visited the sixth floor of the Texas Schoolbook Depository, the building from which the fatal shots were fired.  And I stood at the very window where the assassin lifted his rifle, sighted his prey, and murdered our Chief Executive.  When you are in that spot, it seems so terribly close to the place where the open car was passing slowly, on the street below.
Much closer to my own experience, this is the date on which one of our fellow Dominican priests died just seven years ago.  Father John Ignatius Reardon was a native of South Dakota, born in 1921.  He and I taught together at a high school in Dallas for four years.  Then later, we were together again in Saint Dominic Parish in New Orleans. His health was failing and he died in 2004.  That time gave us the opportunity to talk together and look back over our lives.  One of the surprising things he told me is that he never felt that he did anything very well.  He was constantly troubled by the feeling that he was a failure at whatever he did.  And that certainly was not true; he was a fine teacher, school administrator, preacher, and zealous priest.  But we all have our crosses to carry, and that was one of his.  He surely never gave the impression of feeling like a failure, and my heart went to out him when he spoke of that to me.  We all remember, I suppose, the wonderful words addressed by the businessman in Our Lord’s parable to the servant who had done well while his boss was away. “Well done, good and faithful servant,” the boss or master told him.  If I can venture to judge of these things, I would say that Father Reardon heard those wonderful words upon his entrance into eternal life. What a joyous relief and surprise for a man who had always thought of himself as a failure to receive this wonderful accolade from the lips of our Divine Lord! May we all get this kind of welcome into eternity. Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.



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