I write on the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady — a day which invites us to remember God’s good favor in the life of Mary and in our lives, a day meant to renew our hope and to remind us of our call to a fullness in the life already begun in us.
When Mary reflected on her experience of God’s intervention in her life she exclaimed to her cousin, Elizabeth, “The Lord has done great things for me and holy is God’s name.” She said this knowing full well the demands and the suffering to which her disciple’s “yes” would lead her. But, she did so in tranquility and peace because of her profound faith in God’s promises and her solid hope that God’s holy purpose for us all will be realized.
The wonderful thing about Mary is that she is not out there and far away. She walked the dusty roads with the Lord, experienced the ups and downs of his public ministry, and stood in courage at the foot of the cross when he freely poured out his life for our salvation. Nothing fragile or fainthearted about this Mary. She is strong, deep and gutsy.
Now she enjoys fullness of life. We are but on the way. I am grateful for the fullness to which God’s grace called her. I am grateful to the church for keeping alive and for making available to us all the power of her witness. It is a sign of hope for us and a reminder that we share her call.
I am also deeply grateful for the ways God has favored, with generous heart, people I see face-to-face in the course of daily living. I am thinking of people whose lives and activities give evidence that they accept their own call to discipleship, who give evidence of their love of the Lord in their service to others.
A couple of examples:
Mark Hare, columnist for Rochester’s Democrat and Chronicle wrote recently about Francine Calvaruso, a 16-year-old who has organized an effort to support our troops in Iraq. Francine, inspired by Cherie Barham of Sodus, decided to bake and send cookies to military personnel in Iraq and to purchase needed supplies from money earned through cookie sales.
Mark’s story would have interested me under any circumstances. But it held special fascination for me because I have known Francine’s mother, Joanne, since 1967 and her father, Ed, since my early years in Rochester. Joanne and Ed accorded me the honor of baptizing Francine. Based on all of that, I suspect that, though Francine was directly inspired by Cherie, her mother and dad’s way of life had much to do with the development of her generous spirit.
Last Saturday, Dr. Rick and Jane Constantino hosted a gathering in their Canandaigua home in support of Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes. In my judgment it was very successful and a most enjoyable event. It generated some financial support for the work of Catholic Charities. Even more importantly it introduced many people to its vital work.
In a note of thanks to Jane and Rick, I thanked them for all that made the event so rewarding — the beauty of their home, the food and drink, the music, the kind words of welcome to all and the presentation of the work of Catholic Charities.
But I also told Jane and Rick that what was at the heart of the event’s success was the gracious hospitality and spirit of service shown to all of us by them and their five adult children. The seven of them, I believe, gave unselfconscious and moving witness to their love of the Lord. And, they did it in easy, quiet and gracious ways. Had the event been held on a cold, rainy day in a rough barn, it would have been memorable because of their presence and witness.
My sincere thanks to Francine, Joanne, Ed and all of the Constantinos whose presence and actions enrich for me this beautiful feast of Mary.
Do you know anyone like the friends I have mentioned?
Peace to all.