On February 7, in our Dominican calendar, we celebrate Mass for our parents who have died.
I have noticed when hearing confessions that as people become more elderly, they are troubled from time to time by memories of things which they did many years ago—often things of no importance or consequence, and most frequently, of things having to do with their lack of respect or appreciation of their parents. It seems to be one of the characteristics of old age. And it’s happening to me. Every now and then, a memory will surface in my mind of something that happened when I was a small child and I wish that I could undo what I did or retract what I said so that it would be erased from reality. And, quite typically, these thoughts have to do with my parents.
Heaven knows, they were good people, and I am deeply indebted to them for all they did for me, especially in the very trying times of the depression in which I was born and raised. But my mother was a strong-willed person who tended to be domineering, and she and I clashed frequently. Since I was the only child, I was the one whose life she tried to control. In that ongoing war of wills, each of us had our little victories and defeats. And now, little events of those years come back to haunt me. All I can do is to apologize to the Lord for having said or done those things, and offer the little sufferings that these memories cause me as prayer for my parents, if they still need prayer.
I share these reflections with you in case you are bothered with reminiscences about the past and thoughts of regret for what you might have said or done back in those days. We can’t undo the past, but we can put it to good use by allowing it to make us truly contrite, truly humble, and we can offer those things to God in prayer for those whom we might have offended by thoughtlessness or malice. More than one saint has said that his or her past sins are the greatest motive for his or her present life of virtue and reparation. Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God Bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.