Early in the morning yesterday, I called my mother and prayed the rosary with her. “It’s the best Mother’s Day gift I could have received!” she said. The cell signal was not perfect, and, at 88, Mom's hearing and enunciation are not what they used to be, so our rosary was a little ... irregular. It made me think that even our most articulate orations are “lisping children's humble pray'r,” but graciously received on this day by our Beautiful Mother. What a grace to still be able pray the rosary with her who taught me to pray it 50 years ago. In light of eternity, in God’s perfect time, it’s never too late.
Long Overdue but Never Too Late
On May 1st my archbishop released a pastoral letter, his first, on “the human dignity of the unborn, Holy Communion, and Catholics in public life.” The letter is precisely articulated, “following the science,” but also a heartfelt plea from a loving shepherd. He will suffer much from this prophetic utterance, but love proves itself through suffering. It is a clear beam of truth spoken into a world engulfed in falsehood, truth spoken in love. The letter, he concedes, is “long overdue,” but as Mother Teresa would say, “yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not yet here. We have only today. Let us begin.”
The same could be said for my dear earthly father, John Illo. Somehow he had never received the Sacrament of Confirmation, something my mother had often lamented to us children. When I called Dad a few weeks ago to offer him the Sacrament, he simply said “yes. It is time.” God’s timing is always mysterious, but always to be received with joy. I called the local pastor, who obtained delegation from the local bishop, and on Friday good Fr. Ben administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to my father. At age 95, and 68 years married, my father finally completed his Rites of Christian Initiation. I mentioned this to the good folk of my parish, both in the weekly email blast and in my Sunday homilies, and was delighted at how many people congratulated me and thanked God. One friend described Dad as a modern-day Simeon, who received the child Jesus into his arms as a very old man with the words “Now, O Master, you may let your servant go in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation.” This friend put “sero te amavi” as the subject of his email, quoting St. Augustine: “Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient ever new. Late have I loved you.” The people of my parish wonder at this, with me, that goodness, truth, and beauty come to us “long delayed, but never too late.” It is good to hope in the Lord, to wait for Him. As the Children of Israel expressed in Psalm 27, “I am sure that I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. Hope in Him; hold firm and take heart. Hope in the Lord!”