Friday, June 27, 2014

Homily for My Grandma's Funeral

4 generations - Grandma, Dad, Matt, and Olivia

Reading: Proverbs 31:11-15, 20, 25-26, 28-30
A Reading from the Book of Proverbs
When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls. Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize. She brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life. She rises while it is still night, and distributes food to her household. She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy. She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs at the days to come. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and on her tongue is kindly counsel. Her children rise up and praise her; her husband, too, extols her: "Many are the women of proven worth, but you have excelled them all." Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

In 1988, Saint John Paul II wrote a letter titled "On the Dignity of Women" which stated something that, in past generations, was quite obvious, but today is quite controversial.  St. John Paul II stated that men and women have different gifts.  Anyone who hears our first reading from today and thinks that it describes a life that is somehow subservient, weak or easy has simply never seen it lived out.

The gifts that men and women bring to the world were embodied in Grandma and Grandpa.  In fact, the two types of skill sets could be described as two different ways of "coaching" [Grandpa was a high school football coach for 50+ years].

Man's skill set involves toil, labor, defending the vulnerable, protecting the weak and needy.  It is embodied in soldiers, and, in times of relaxation and amusement, this spirit of sacrifice is embodied in games like football and so forth.

While Grandma knew more about "coaching football" than some men who coached state championship teams, Grandma "coached" in a different way, in a way that St. John Paul II called "The Feminine Genius."

This gift of the feminine genius is important, first of all, in marriage.  The Church says that marriage exists to help the man and woman who marry one another get to Heaven, and so the feminine genius helps counter-balance the rougher and less polished skill set that men bring to the table. 

It seemed to me that Grandma and Grandpa balanced each other out and inspired each other to holiness.  I'm sure Grandpa's love for Scripture and our Lord Jesus Christ undoubtedly inspired Grandma, Grandpa would also admit, in private moments, that Grandma's Catholicism inspired him as well, despite his razzing us about going to Mass on Holy Days and, as Cindy noted, despite Grandpa jokingly dodging sprinkled Holy Water at Mass in order to avoid "being captured by the Catholics."

The feminine genius is also important and can be tapped to help create a harbor and a safe-haven from the world.  First, this harbor is established in a climate where things and people are NOT torn down.  As Mom was relating to me today, she never heard Grandma utter ONE WORD of gossip.

The harbor is also established by building things up through love and care.  As grandkids, we experienced that harbor in what is probably, for most women, the crescendo of all their wisdom, love, and life…the home of a grandmother.  

Grandma's house was, for us, a magical cross between Alice's Wonderland and Narnia.  Hams, turkeys, cokes, ice-cream, cookies and candy provided nourishment between endless adventures outside, adventures on screen, slumber parties, presents, and hours and hours and days of board games.  Like any magical place, we never wanted to leave.  

In listening yesterday to Dad, Uncle Ty and Aunt Cindy talk, I get the strong impression that "Grandma's House" was not the first time Jeanette Hollowell poured her heart and soul and love into a home.

And finally a word on some of Grandma's last words - "The Hall's Y'alls"

Not everyone here speaks "Kentucky" and so the phrase, translated into Yankee, means "This hallway now belongs to all of you"

Grandma has left this hall, and, as Uncle Ty noted, we are the members of her team that she "coached"; we are still playing the game, and it is up to us to follow her coaching or not.  To love…or not.  To sacrifice…or not.

We are here to pray that she be welcomed into the banquet hall of Heaven where every tear is wiped away and there is no more sadness…only light and love.  Christ actually describes Heaven that way, as a great banquet hall for a wedding feast.  If Christ knows what He's doing, and if Heaven is a great banquet, then he'll do well to put Grandma in charge of the cookies!

May we live our lives in such a way that the King of Kings will one day greet us at the door of the great banquet hall with a plate of Grandma's cookies and say to us "come, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world!"

"See you when we see you!"

Friday, June 13, 2014

What Are You Doing On Vacation?

I'm currently out West for two weeks with a trip known as Summer Field Studies.  My Dad started it 35 years ago, and now roughly 100 high schoolers head out for adventure, Mass, friends, campfires, etc.  Prayers much appreciated.  Here's a video!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Best Quotes From the Confessional

Last night I went to confession with a priest friend who is heading off to be an Air Force chaplain in a few weeks.  The priest told me "The Devil is not a slow lumbering bomber, he is like the stealth bomber"

(before you call the chancery, the person GOING to confession can talk about the confession all he or she wants)

My question to you for the comment box, "What is a great line that you've heard in the confessional that has always stuck with you?"